Mount Lindsey
(Sangre de Cristo Range)

30-31 Aug 2003 - by Bill Stafford

The 10,660' Huerfano River Trailhead is about a 4 hour drive from Littleton. I donned my 45 pound backpack and set off on a Saturday afternoon, at about 1:45 pm, for a high alpine campsite. Rainfall began about 15 minutes into the hike, and plagued me for the next 2 hours on this steep climber's trail. I pitched my tent at about 12,100', amongst a copse of small trees, just prior to the point where the trail starts heading SW and into a small basin. The rain had finally relented, allowing me to unpack without getting my things much wetter. The clouds continued to clear and by nightfall, my earlier uphill battle was rewarded by a crystal clear view of the Milky Way, the occasional blur of a meteor, and the steady coursing of a few satellites. (I wish to thank Bibler for the "Ahwahnee II". The ability to unzip the entire side of this single wall tent allows excellent star-gazing opportunities from the warmth of a snug sleeping bag.) Nary a ruffle of a breeze occured all night.

I awoke at 6 a.m., had a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and instant coffee, and was off for the summit an instant later. (That is, 45 minutes later.) The temperature was about 45 F, not including the wind chill, which was not uncomfortable, but also not insignificant. I followed a sometimes faint trail to the saddle connecting Lindsey with the Iron Nipple. On the east side of the saddle, about 4 small marmots scampered for cover, obviously disturbed by my rude intrusion on their morning sunbathing. I utilized Gerry Roach's guide to maneuver most of the way, getting off-trail only occasionally. I summited at about 9:15 a.m. and paused for about 1/2 hour for a little mid-morning snack (appreciating the cover of the rock shelter, since the wind was still blowing not uncomfortably, but not insiginificantly.) I signed the summit register and headed back down the ridge around 9:40 a.m. I met my first set of hikers at the bottom of the rubble-filled chute, and passed about 8 or so others on my way back to my tent. At one point, I spotted a someone lounging in the grassy 12,000' basin on a large boulder, about 500 feet below me, aerially maneuvering a careening green kite. Seems like a long way to go to play with a kite, but he was probably thinking I had traveled far to simply tag a summit.

I arrived at my tent at 11:20 a.m., packed up, and headed for the trailhead at 11:55 a.m. The day was now quite sunny and pleasant, with the wind starting to die out. I was better able to appreciate the trail, which had recovered well from the previous day's rain. The hike back was, oddly enough, as steep as it was when I came in, only downhill this time. (I have GOT to lighten my backpack load.) The going was slow but I was in no hurry, and the Huerfano River provided pleasant company. I arrived back at the trailhead at 1:35 p.m., almost 24 hours to the minute from when I had signed in at the trailhead register. A most excellent 24 hours.

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