Mount Yale

July 11, 2011

Last year I got the opportunity to meet some of my wifes family. I had a great time talking with Adam and Laura Bush, Anne-Marie's cousins. I offered to show them around Colorado some, and they were excited to do so. This summer they took me up on the offer. They are fairly avid hikers (but from Missouri) and wanted a hike that would challenge them, I thought Yale would be a good fit. It was. They did well, though they did experience some bad altitude sickness having only been at altitude 3 days.

The day started cloudy which had me keeping my eyes on the sky all day long. Fortunately nothing looked threatening until we were back below treeline. We did finish the last mile of the hike in a thunderstorm, but by then we were well down into a protected valley.

Distance:9.6 miles
Elevation Gain:4,200 vertical feet
Time:9 hours

When taking others it is sometimes hard to get them to agree to a predawn start, however Adam and Laura had no problem with this though they weren't used to doing it much.

The creeks were still flowing strong due to the high snow year this year, which also makes for some excellent wildflowers.

The CFI had just redone a large section of the trail which made travel a lot easier.

Our pace was decent and we got to treeline fairly quickly.

The clouds were low clouds and were moving and changing quickly. Nothing looked threatening though. It was weird though cause you'd look at some mountains and things looked fine.

Then you look at others and it looked scary.

Overall though they were thin broken low-level clouds. Not posing any risk, except to keep a close eye on them building up. Which I knew they would in the afternoon.

As we came in view of the steep section to gain the ridge, Laura struggled to keep her motivation up. She pushed on though even as the altitude continued to make the hiking harder and harder for her.

She began counting steps. Trying to do 200 or 300 between each rest. This helped us reach the ridge at a nice pace.

Once on the ridge though we entered the banner clouds that had been forming there all morning. The wind was 25 miles per hour and the temperature was 44, making for a wind chill of 38 degrees. It was here that the altitude seemed to hit Adam pretty hard too and his pace slowed. The problem was that since we were now in a banner cloud I could only watch the developing weather when the wind blew hard enough that we were breifly outside the cloud. So I pushed Adam and Laura to go a little faster which didn't help their altitude sickness at all.

They did make the summit though and we did manage to get some brief views of the scenery. It was beautiful. Unfortunately we could not stay long. Though the clouds were still broken, I could see a couple to the north that were begining to grow.

We descended the ridge as quick as we could, but it's a lot of bouldering and that takes time to navigate.

As we began to descend the ridge though I could once again see the skies and things didn't look bad. I even had hopes of getting all the way to the car before the storms rolled in. However Adam had a very bad altitude headache and every step exacerbated it so he had to take a slow pace.

The flowers above treeline were blooming everywhere, so I took the opportunity to take some photos as we went.

We entered the trees with no signs of rain in the skies, however as we got lower I could tell we weren't going to get out of this without some rain.

A little over a mile from the trailhead it began to lightly rain on us so we put on our shells.

When we reached the final Denny Creek crossing the ran began to pick up.

By the time we reached the final switchbacks before the trailhead it was an all out thunderstorm. We were very glad to be where we were when the storm did hit. Lots of people were still much higher on the mountain than us. We threw our gear in the car and headed off to Coyote Cantina in Johnson's Village for some food before heading home.

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