11,270 Feet (Ranked 1,655th in CO)
Long Gulch Trailhead (10,080 Feet)
February 22nd, 2009
5.2 Miles Roundtrip
Elevation Gained: Approximately 1,200 Feet
Pt. 11,270 is a ranked 11er that lies just outside of the boundaries of the Lost Creek Wilderness in the Pike National Forest. The peak is as anonymous as its name would indicate; most of its visitors are obsessive peakbaggers. I never made the conscious decision to climb Pt. 11,270, but I wound up visiting the summit by a happy set of circumstances.
GPS track of the route to Pt. 11,270
I set out on the morning of the 22nd intent upon tackling a nemesis peak, “Peak Z.” The standard route calls for taking the Colorado Trail to 10,760 feet and following the south ridge to the summit. Even with this season’s dearth of snow, I expected that trailbreaking would be a miserable chore. The Long Gulch Trailhead had plenty of snow, and it only got deeper as I entered the forest on the Hooper Trail. Snowshoes were not necessary on the well-packed track.
I followed the Hooper Trail for 0.2 miles to the intersection with the Colorado Trail. I expected the trailbreaking to start at this point, but I was surprised to find that a pair of hikers had traveled the Colorado Trail within the past few days. I was able to continue on the packed trail without snowshoes.
The Colorado Trail was easy to follow and the altitude gain was gradual. It’s a nice segment of the trail, and it would be worth hiking it just for the scenery.
Snow cover on the trail was sparse on the south and southeast-facing slopes. Trail conditions allowed me to move more quickly than I had anticipated.
The trail wound through a nice stand of aspen trees. This is a nice trail in late September and early October when the aspens are in full color; the Kenosha Mountains area great place for viewing fall foliage.
Snow cover on the trail increased as the trail turned north on a west-facing slope. Hiking was easy, because I still had the benefit of a packed trail.
My plan to summit “Peak Z” fell apart on a pair of switchbacks in the trail. The trail is supposed to pass to the west of Pt. 11,130 and loop around to the north side; I followed the packed track, which diverged from the Colorado Trail and headed east to the saddle between Pt. 11,130 and Pt. 11,270. I didn’t realize this until I was nearly on the saddle. I checked my GPS and my Trails Illustrated map, and determined that the track probably led towards unnamed Pt. 11,270. Turning around and getting back on the Colorado Trail would have involved an undetermined amount of difficult trailbreaking in snow that ranged from two to three feet deep. Following the packed trench to the summit of Pt. 11,270 seemed like the most viable option.
The saddle was heavily wooded, but the forest thinned as the ridge rose to the southeast from the saddle. There were several vantage points along the trail that gave spectacular views of “Peak X,” “Peak Y,” and “Peak Z.”
Wind and snow had erased the track near the summit, and knee-to-waist-deep postholing ensued. Fortunately, the deep stretches of snow were not very long.
The summit was a small flat area with a pile of boulders off to one side. It was not an impressive summit compared to others in the Kenosha Mountains, but it still had a wild, seldom-visited feel to it. There was a Mike Garratt Grey Poupon jar summit register under a pile of rocks on the summit boulder. Mike Garratt, of course, was the first person to sign the register. The Roaches and the usual cast of Lost Creek Wilderness characters had signed it, as well as a group of Colorado Mountain Club hikers. All told, not many people had signed the register.
The views of “Peak Y” and “Peak Z” were partially obstructed, but they were still a welcome sight.
This was one of the best views of “Peak X” that I had seen. Familiarity usually breeds contempt, but the more I know “Peak X,” the more I like it. All of my experiences with “Peak X” have been excellent, and it has become one of my personal favorites.
I had no problem following the track back to my Jeep. It was a short hike, so I was back in plenty of time for lunch. Sometimes it’s nice to have a hike that doesn’t entirely wipe me out. Hikers who want a nice half-day hike close to the Metro Area should keep Pt. 11,270 in mind.