Thursday, October 24, 2019

Excelsior Pass attempt

Today's group hike towards Excelsior Pass
This picture was taken by a new hiker, Steve, who joined us on the Relaxed Group's attempt to make it to Excelsior Pass. First, we tried to gain access to Church Mountain, where we expected to make it to the meadows, but the road was in bad shape where it crosses the creek.
This is where we turned around
A couple of guys were in the process of assessing the viability of making it across this spot on the Church Mountain access road. After studying it ourselves, with three cars needing to make it across, we decided instead to turn around and hike up the Excelsior Pass trailhead, just a few miles down the road.
Trail shot
This hike is 4.5 miles long to the pass, with more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Although we didn't know if we could make it the entire way, it was a nice way to spend the day. We had no snow for the first part as we ascended towards the pass.
Recently cut log
The Forest Service has been out trying to clear the trail, and I saw this log with sap coming out of the recently cut bark. These trees fell, probably in a recent windstorm, and now the trail is in very good condition.
Snow made its appearance on the trail
We ran into snow at about 4,200 feet elevation and realized it would be much slower going from this point to the pass. Just before 1:00pm, we decided to stop for lunch and, afterwareds, to turn around and head back down. Because of the short days, we didn't want to be caught out in darkness.
Pretty mushroom in the snow
Dianne caught this lovely picture of an unidentified mushroom in the snow. Our new friend, Steve, knows mushrooms and probably identified this one, but I have already forgotten its name.
Some of our group heading back down
I asked those hikers ahead of me to stop for a minute so I could get their picture. Steve, our newest member, is third from the left. This group was led very capably by Donna, the woman at the front. Although I have hiked with the Relaxed Group before, most of the people were new to me.
Hikers surrounded by green and gold
It was only 3:00pm when we returned to the trailhead. (It was much faster going down.) We probably only hiked around just under or just over seven miles, but we did ascend and descend around 2,900 feet on the way to the pass. It just keeps going up. It didn't rain but was overcast the entire day, but until you reach the high meadows just below the pass, there isn't much of a view. No matter, everyone was happy to have had such a good day in the High Country, probably our final one for the season.


  1. It sounds wonderful and looks it too.

  2. Not much incentive to continue when conditions are poor. and sometimes it's wise to turn around before somebody gets hurt.

  3. It looks and sounds wonderful - and seven miles sounds pretty damn good to me.
    Love that snowy 'shroom too.

  4. Nothing like being outdoors, hiking with friends, new and old. I'd be starved by 1pm tho. Need nourishment about noon. Lol

    Love those photos.

  5. Goodness that was a road?? Smart move. That mushroom was a bright surprise and nice that the new guy knows his flora and can help with identities.

  6. Interesting that you see greenery at first, then suddenly you see snow. What a contrast.

  7. That was quite a climb but as always great scenery and company.

  8. That didn't even look like a road! Being adaptable, you all ended up having a good day, regardless. Love the red mushroom in the snow! :)

  9. It has become cold so soon this fall. I am not ready yet for the dark, wet, cold days of winter. I'm hoping the sun stays around for a while when it comes back tomorrow.

  10. snow...that is a pretty mushroom. Hope you like the relaxed group! :)

  11. I am always so awed by those hikes that you do. I love all the gorgeous scenery and being out in nature, BUT so many miles and elevation? I'm happy to see your photos from my potato couch.

  12. Having just walked the hills of Gettysburg, including climbing up a seven-story observation tower, I have a new appreciation of what climbing 2900 feet must feel like. Good for you!

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