On the weekend of the summer solstice we set out on our first backpack trip in the mountains with no goals other than to get up out and soak in the scenery with good friends. With easy access post work we picked the Beaver Creek area with our first night spent just three miles from the trailhead at Beaver Lake where we arrived shortly before sunset. On the second day we hiked on to Turquoise Lakes at the head of Beaver Creek and set up camp at the lake's edge perfectly situated at the base of a beautiful cirque in meadows carpeted with marsh marigolds.
Here Grouse Mountain towered above to the east and to the south the first of several false summits that eventually lead to Mount Jackson, 13,676 feet high. Being it is the 101st highest peak in Colorado, and relatively remote, it does not see much traffic. Greg, Twyla and I thought however, it would make for a very fine climb and having pitched our tents we set off past Upper Turquoise Lake and scrambled up a cleft in the rocks to exit the cirque.
Upper Turquoise Lake still harbored ice on it's northern edge:
Once we were above the cirque it was a pleasant stroll across the tundra dotted with granite boulders. We scared up ptarmigan and marveled at the little blue Forget-Me-Nots and other alpine flowers already blooming. Can you see the ptarmigan, well camouflaged amongst the boulders?
Flowers at 13,000 feet with the rugged sawtooths of New York Mountain and Gold Dust Peak in the background:
When the north east face of Mount Jackson came into view I was wishing I had my skis! That's neighboring 14er, Mount of the Holy Cross to the left:
On the north ridge we had a couple of Class III moves which kept us entertained:
The final walk along the summit ridge:
We topped out at 5 p.m. and enjoyed spectacular views of Many of Colorado's mountain ranges including the Sawatch, the Gore, and the Elks. I could even see my beloved Sopris off in the distance.
Cause for celebration - beautiful views and our first summit of the summer:
With plenty of daylight on one of the longest days of the year we made it back to camp well before sunset.
Round trip, Mount Jackson is about 20 miles and 5,700 feet from Beaver Creek ski area. Doable in a day but I think it pays to spend a night at least up the lakes but then again I'm always looking for an excuse to go backpacking.