19 January 2010

Handies Peak

Handies Peak3 July 2004

We arrived at the Handies and Redcloud/Sunshine trailheads on the Cinnamon Pass road by about 9 a.m. After healthy portions of day-old Cinnabon rolls smothered with fresh caramel frosting, we decided the weather looked promising enough to warrant a summit attempt.columbine

We were on the trail to Handies by 10 a.m., and I was on my second memory card before we reached the summit, thanks to prolific fields of alpine geraniums, sunflowers, anemone, globeflowers, marsh marigold, columbine, cinquefoil, monkshood, sky pilots, larkspur, Jacob’s Ladder, bittercress and gorgeous firecracker-like sprays of purple scorpionweed.

En route, we were passed multiple times in both directions by trail runners training for the Hard Rock 100. Their pace was awe-inspiring and discouraging at the same time.

Handies would be my 13th 14er, and I’d long planned to save that specific designation for a special peak because 13 is my favorite and lucky number. Wildflowers, playful marmots and glistening waterfalls made the impromptu peak special, but so did being able to hike again with The Lizard. He never complains about my lack of speed and how many times I stop to take photos.

gentiansAll that mushy stuff aside, imagine my surprise when upon the summit I had the pleasure of meeting in person Quade Smith, second oldest of the famed Climbing Smiths. Not only is this guy STILL climbing, he’s a photographer, too. !!!

In 1974, the Climbing Smiths (George and sons Flint, Quade, Cody and Tyle) climbed all the fourteeners in Colorado in 33 days. Tyle Smith had climbed them all in 1968 at age 8. Quade and Tyle went up all the peaks again in sixteen days in 1990. Their speed records have been shattered several times over since then, but at the time, their accomplishments were mighty. It was truly an honor to stand on a beautiful mountain peak with Quade and The Lizard.

After identifying surrounding 360-degree views of peaks partially obscured in smoky haze – Rio Grande Pyramid, Jones, Niagara, American, Sunlight, Windom, Eolus, Arrow, Vestal, the Trinities, the Wilsons, Sneffels and peaks of the Dallas Divide, Wildhorse, Coxcomb, Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, Uncompahgre, Redcloud and Sunshine – we headed back down, stopping to shoot yet more wildflowers and marmots.larkspur

1 comment :

  1. WHat a beautiful spot! Love the flowers and critter you found too!


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