After a nice-and-easy day we were ready to hit the ground running—well, hiking—on Day #12! With another early morning wakeup we found ourselves at the Missouri Gulch trailhead before 4am and the parking lot was already full! Luckily, we didn’t have to park too far down the road.
We began hiking in the dark, which made the ascent up to treeline pass by quickly. These early morning starts are great for seeing alpenglow lighting up all the huge peaks! As we made our way up from the valley floor the frigid winds picked up considerably. It didn’t take long before we both had on all of the warm clothes we packed.
A few hours into the day and we found ourselves hunkering down on the summit of Mount Belford—the 11th 14er of our project!
The cold wind motivated us to get moving again. So, we began the windy hike over to the 2nd 14er of the day and 12th of the project—Mount Oxford. On the way we ran into a YouTube fan who recognized us. So, we stopped for a quick chat and a selfie with Sam.
Again, we didn’t linger too long on the summit of Mount Oxford. It was cold, windy, and we still had a long ways to go for our descent. First, we had to go back up-and-over Mount Belford before we could start heading down. Once we got to Belford we started jogging a little to get out of the wind quicker. The hike below treeline was all lit up now and revealed pretty pine forests and aspen groves.
With two 14ers under our belt we still had a lot to do today. Next, was the 11th Scenic Drive of our project—County Road 390 between the Winfield ghost town and Highway 24. This is a pretty drive with mountain views, creeks, access to trails, pine and aspen forests, and more.
Next, we made our way towards the town of Twin Lakes, but first stopped to check out the namesake lakes—our 11th Water Feature. There are some great views looking down at the lakes with several high peaks in the background.
We were starting to fade a little bit from our early start to the day and the big hike. So, it was time for some caffeine. In the town of Twin Lakes there’s an unassuming looking VW bus on the side of the road. This is Perkolated Peaks—the 11th Coffeeshop of our project. We stopped here for a few Americanos to keep us going for the rest of the day.
Feeling a little more awake, it was time to head up Independence Pass—our 12th Scenic Drive. From the east, it’s a gorgeous 23-mile drive on Highway 82 up to the 12,095’ pass. You’ll see some of Colorado’s highest peaks along the way! There’s plenty of access to hiking, camping, and other activities. For cyclists, the ride up-and-over Independence Pass between Twin Lakes and Aspen is one of the classic climbs in Colorado!
The road up Independence Pass is closed seasonally from some time in October until late spring. Any time of year is great for this drive, but the month of September brings gorgeous fall colors!
After a long, exhausting day it was finally time to head back to Little Bear, have some dinner, and collapse in exhaustion…
So, here’s to 2 more days exploring Colorful Colorado…
14er 11/14: Mount Belford
14er 12/14: Mount Oxford
Coffeeshop 11/14: Perkolated Peaks
Water Feature 11/14: Twin Lakes
Scenic Drive 11/14: CR 390 to Winfield
Scenic Drive 12/14: Highway 82 to Independence Pass
Distillery 12/14: NONE
Brewery 12/14: NONE
Wildflowers 9/14: NONE