Saturday, January 28, 2012

Green Mountain, Bald Mountain & Blue Mountain

The unexciting Green Mountain.
The plan for the morning was to hit five summits, four of them ranked, with the centerpiece being Blue Mountain. 

A map would have been a good idea. 

The frigid pre-dawn jog to summit 7,335' (Green Mountain) was easy enough. It was 700 feet straight up Green Mountain Road from Pinewood Lake in a little over a mile. Unfortunately there was a big house perched right on the summit. And the lights were on. I quickly ran to what looked like the highest point - maybe 100 feet from the house - turned around and headed back down the way I had come. 
Back on Pole Hill Road, I jogged eastward for a few hundred meters and then made a right onto another private road, which forked left (hop gate) for the quick jaunt up to my next peak, Bald Mountain (7,098' - not ranked). This one was home to a communication tower. Hmm. It did have some nice views of Blue Mountain and the Divide from the top though, and I wasn't in danger of scaring the crap out of someone enjoying their first brew of the morning from the comfort of their cozy home. But, yeah, more trespassing.

Despite the excessive trespassing, my mental map of this unfamiliar terrain was so far serving me well. Next, if memory served correct, was a retrace halfway down the service road and a spot of cross country before picking up a jeep track that would trace a line around the northeastern flank of Blue Mountain. 

Coming down off 7,098'. Longs/Meeker and Indian Peaks with west flank of Blue Mtn in the foreground

After what seemed like more cross country than I had remembered planning on, there was still no sign of my forest road, but I had a decent view of what I thought might be the northerly and highest point of Blue Mountain's three tops. Nonetheless, I kept forging on around the side of the mountain because I remember thinking it should have been a good mile and a half before the planned cut to the top. And then I found an old jeep track. I followed that and ran too far, eventually cutting steeply up the hill once I came to yet another gate with an intimidating KEEP OUT sign. 

I gained a slight plateau at 7,500 feet, cut across some pretty nasty terrain with plenty of thigh-deep snow drifts before seeing what looked like a summit hill across a gully which dropped a few hundred feet before its steep rise to the top. It seemed totally wrong, but I headed that way anyway. The grunt up was filled with a ton of deadfall, multiple mega posthole punch-throughs, and mental certainty that I was barking up the wrong tree ... er ... mountain. 

Blue Mountain from Bald (with another communication tower foreground). True summit: nearest; middle summit: behind; my eventual summit: not in view.
The Continental Divide from top of Blue Mountain.
That was confirmed once I was on top and had the lie of the land. Although my Highgear was reading right at the 7,888' I wanted for the Blue Mountain summit, I was clearly on the southernmost summit, which I would later find out was 14 feet lower than the northern summit (FAIL). The wind had really picked up and I was in danger of a late return home, so I decided not to bother picking my way across the ridge for the true summit, and instead cut a sketchily steep line down the cactus and mountain mahogany infested southwestern slope of Blue.

Cold and pissed off on top of Blue Mountain.
I decided not to bother with point 6930' or 7383', both of which would have required blatant bouts of trespassing with little to no cover. Rather, I put my tail between my legs and ran back to Pinewood Lake on the private ranch road that skirts Blue Mountain's westerly flank - jumping four gates along the way.

Couldn't be bothered with 6,930'
I learned two things today: 
  1. Bring the bloody map.
  2. This Larimer County peak-bagging project might just be a bit more trouble than it's worth with all the trespassing that it will evidently require.


  1. 1. Yes!
    2. Likely so.

    I still think it's a cool blueprint for having an excuse to explore, so thanks for sharing. Maybe people do the first 100...150...200 "more accessible" peaks first and then decide how much to continue. Kind of like saving Capitol Pk or Sunlight Mtn. after the easier 14ers.

    Good luck on the paddock tomorrow!

  2. Nice, looks like List of John is really rubbing off on you.

    Yes, maps/compass are definitely good for this sort of thing (as would be a GPS).

    Regarding trespassing, there is always night (preferably with a full moon), earth tone clothing (avoid red), always have a good excuse/play it dumb line ready to roll, but most importantly, rely on your speed and cunning and just don't be seen or get caught. Not that I am advocating any trespassing, just some tips if one were to do so. You could always just ask a land owner as well, often times they don't mind. Good luck!

  3. JV - thanks for the tips. Coming down off Blue Mountain with a big ranch house below, I was certainly thinking to myself that if anyone happened to be looking up that I'd be sticking out like a sore thumb in my bright red jacket.

  4. Seriously, ask the landowners -- most times I've asked, I've gotten a "sure, go ahead, make sure to close the gates after you" response. Trespassing just creates more problems down the line, either for you or for future users.

    /steps down off of soapbox

  5. Fair point, but problem is that it's not always clear who or where the landowner is, especially when there are multiple parcels of land to be crossed.

    I'll probably just be sticking to public land for the time being anyhow, but thanks for the thought.