Thursday, July 13, 2017

Excelsior Pass 2017

Our Excelsior Pass hikers
Eighteen Senior Trailblazers showed up this morning for our scheduled hike to Excelsior Pass. We tried this hike twice last year and were turned back by snow before we reached the pass. But the first order of the day was to get our number down to the required no-more-than-twelve in one group. Six people offered to change their destination to Welcome Pass, which the rest of us went up last week. Bob, however, decided to go again, so he went with the others, meaning he's in MUCH better shape than I am. I couldn't have done it again today. The rest of us headed off to the trailhead for Excelsior Pass.
Our beautiful trail today
The twelve of us knew that if we made it to the pass, it would be hiking more than four miles uphill and 3,500 feet of elevation. Although last week's Welcome Pass hike was less elevation gain, it was over much less distance, meaning today's switchbacks seemed tame by comparison. And it was so cool, perfect for hiking, since we had cloud cover that was supposed to clear off later in the day. More about that later.
Almost to the pass
Here we are, much farther than we ever made it last year, on our way to the pass, the final push to the top. It was already past noon but nobody was ready to stop; we did take a quick break for a snack awhile back so we could keep going, however.
First big snowfield almost at the pass
And then, there we were, almost able to look over to see the Damfino Lakes area and beyond to the Canadian border, but as you can see, those pesky clouds were still hanging on. A few glacier lilies on the right show that the area has only recently become free of snow. Lots of plants ready to bloom, too.
We made it!
And there it was, the top! Looking over to the other trailheads, you can see the dark clouds that obscured our view, which we thought would be gone by now, but no. See the other hikers just sitting down to have lunch in the distance?
Our lunch spot today
Yes, we mostly put on more clothes so we could hang out and enjoy the views, what there was of them, that is. Clouds came and went, giving us some sunshine and then more clouds. We fully expected they would be gone by this time, well after noon, but no such luck. However, it was pretty wonderful, cool and pretty much a delightful place to replenish ourselves.
Chris and Sue
Although it wasn't at all what we expected (it almost never is), we were not in a big hurry to leave and start back down. We had climbed more than 3,500 feet and now had to descend back to the trailhead, so we lingered for quite awhile.
Excelsior Peak and Jim settling in for lunch
If there had been a real view, we would have climbed to the top of the peak in the middle of the picture, Excelsior Peak, which has a great 360-degree view, but with all the clouds and snow, it just didn't give us much desire to ascend any further. If you look carefully, however, you can see that there are a couple of people right on the peak.
Our peaks hidden mostly by clouds
As we started our return journey, this was the best picture I could get of our wonderful mountains that showed themselves in such glory last week. I realized that the other group would do all that work and have obscured views, but I hoped they had a good time anyway. We certainly did.
About a mile from the trailhead, we stopped to admire what we call the "flue," which seems manmade (but I really don't know its history) and asked if anyone wanted to take a short cut by sliding down. Nobody did, so we finally made our way back to the cars and a short trip over to Graham's for some ice cream before heading home. It was a LONG day, as it's now way after 7:00pm and I'm just now finishing my daily duty, the blog post, before taking a shower and soon getting horizontal.

I did have a great day, and I made it to the top of Excelsior Pass, even if I didn't make it to the peak, and after eight-and-a-half miles and all that elevation, I'm feeling a little bit crispy. I hope the other group had a good day, too.


  1. I am always awed at your stamina and persistence - and delighted you enjoy it. I hope dinner and wine oclock were wonderful.

  2. Mountain meadows are the best with spring flowers. It 's better with snow as you had today.

  3. You will sleep well tonight, Jan. You are in amazing condition!

  4. It must be such a different experience hiking in the mountains when you get up to snowline in July! All that uphill effort balanced by those spectacular views!

  5. That's a large group of hikers.

  6. You have to enjoy the traveling of the path more than the end results because so often the clouds are in your view. You guys obviously do enjoy the trip. :)

  7. You really have great turnouts for the hikes. So much that you have to split up. Glad you didn't have to do a repeat of your last hike though. This one certainly was challenging enough. Long day, know you will sleep well.

  8. Whew! That's quite a bit of elevation gain! Good job for climbing so much. The views looked to be worth it.

  9. It's nice to have so much beauty over there. I envy your fortitude.

  10. That was a strenuous hike - lots of miles and elevation! Good for you!

  11. You are such an inspiration to me. I hope someday I can find some beautiful places to hike! I've got to get in better shape, but this fall my husband and I are going to look for pretty places to hike.

  12. Lunch, by a snowbank, in July! Whoa.


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