Another weekend meant another opportunity to get outside and explore a new trail on a new mountain. With all of the fire bans that are still in effect across Colorado our options for a new peak that would allow us to camp near the trail-head and still have a campfire were limited. We ended up choosing Huron Peak which is one of the shortest fourteeners in Colorado. Having hiked many mountains of all sizes in the past we knew that the overall height of the mountain would have very little to do with how hard it may be to get to the summit. Although all of our research indicated that this would be an “easy” hike we knew that “easy” is a very subjective word so we went into this hike expecting to have to work for the summit and we were not disappointed in that regard.
After a very peaceful Saturday evening (we camped about a quarter mile up the two mile 4x4 road that leads to the four wheel drive trail-head) we crawled in the tent early so we could get an early start the next morning. Having two dogs (Cooper and Trekker) and myself and Brecka in the tent ensured that there was a healthy amount of sleeping bag pulling and confusion over whether a dog or a human is really more deserving of a pillow. I am not ashamed to admit that I lost the fight with Cooper over the pillow, he ended up using it as a bed and I ended up using him as a pillow. So in the end our 5:30 alarm found us somewhat rested and eager to start the hike.
We finally ended up at the trail-head a little after 6 am, the four wheel drive road is very manageable but it takes some time especially in the dark. Even at that early hour the parking was scarce at the trail-head and we were happy to find a spot and get started. We decided to take the standard route, so from the parking area we went back about 50 feet until we hit the true trail-head and turned left to begin our approximately six mile round trip hike of Huron Peak.
We started the hike under headlamp but soon turned them off and put them away and just enjoyed the constantly changing shades of the sky and the forest we were in as the sun began to rise. The trail was gradual and offered many opportunities to stop and take in surroundings, so we ended up taking our time to just soak in the scenery. The trail switchbacks up and up and it wasn’t long before the forest started to thin as we approached the point where we would break out of the trees for good. Right as we were getting above tree line the sun was lighting up the surrounding mountains so that they glowed orange, with the perfectly clear blue sky as a backdrop those mountains were just about the most beautiful landscape that I had ever seen in my life. For the first time that day and the millionth time in my life I thought about how lucky I was to get to see such amazing things and even more how lucky I was to experience them with Brecka and our two pups.
Above tree line we worked our way up to a section where the trail levels out for a bit and the remainder of the hike was laid out in front of us. We had been hiking for about an hour and we could already see the summit, or at least what we assumed was the summit. From there it looked like the trail was going to get a little more rocky and challenging than it had been so far but we felt strong and the weather was perfect (cool temperatures and low wind) so we began to make our way up the slope. The trail gradually switchbacks up to within maybe a quarter mile or less of the summit before it begins to get steep and you have to start paying more attention to your footing. Even at its trickiest this trail was never too
challenging and the only issue the dogs had was waiting for us humans to catch up. At 8:30 am, a little over 2 hours after we started we were on the summit taking in amazing 360 views and soaking in the first of the day’s sun. The summit had been just past where we had assumed it was and it was big enough for the multiple parties on top to be able to move around and enjoy a few minutes of rest and relaxation before heading down.
We took our time hiking down enjoying the views and stopping to chat with a couple of groups still working their way up. The scenery on the way down was almost unbelievable and we found ourselves stopping every few switchbacks to marvel at what we were seeing and try to take a photo that could possibly do it all justice. Even taking our time we hit the trees after what seemed no time at all. Typically the hike out in the forest is my least favorite part of any hike but this hike we were just having too much fun. We both still had plenty of energy to tell stories and joke around and I was successful in getting “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen stuck in Brecka’s head. She was not as happy about it as I was but I thought it was a perfect song for the day. We got back to the truck at 10:30, two hours after we summited and less than four and a half hours after we started.
It was another challenging but rewarding day in the mountains. A day that reminded us why we love being outdoors and going on adventures in the first place. It was a reminder for why we drive hours for the opportunity to hike with little to no sleep, start in the dark and the cold just for the chance to stand on the summit for a few minutes. It is a day that I will remember for a long time. It is also the day that will fuel my plans for next weekend’s adventure!