Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hiking Scarp Ridge West Trail

Sept 5th, 2014

Today we spent the day recovering from our last hike.   : )    We did a few chores in the morning, refilled the propane tank, restocked and repacked our day packs, and wrote on my blog. Around noon, we drove into Gunnison for a bite of Mexican food, then spent some time just strolling around and shopping / browsing. Gunnison is a cute little town. It doesn’t have quite the appeal of Crested Butte, but it is nice (and close by our campground).

Sept 6th, 2014

This morning, we went to the Farmer’s Market in Gunnison. I just LOVE Farmer’s Markets where they sell fresh baked goods as well as veggies……We bought a loaf of Rosemary-Olive French bread, a cinnamon roll for tomorrow morning, a couple of pieces of fresh peach pie for dessert tonight, and fresh peaches and fresh tomatoes and a cucumber……We are going to eat well!

After stopping by the camper to put up all our ‘goodies’, we headed towards Crested Butte and the Scarp Ridge West Trailhead.

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The Scarp Ridge Trail was an out-and-back trail (meaning, we were NOT getting lost this time!) and it followed an old, rutted 4x4 road. There were several turn-around points mentioned in the guide book and we felt that we would hike about 2.1 miles up to a scenic overlook, and then on to the point where the road ended (the trail continued up to Scarp Ridge, but we were not going that far).

Total mileage round trip should be about 4.2 miles. The starting elevation was at 10,500 feet and we would gain about 1,000 feet over the 2 miles, finishing at 11,500 feet. Our guide book described this hike as ‘moderate’ and does a good job of rating each section of trail based on the number of feet of elevation gained, on average, per mile. This section fell into the 400-600 feet / mile elevation gain.

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As promised, the trail just followed a VERY rutted gravel and dirt road. I was glad that we were not trying to drive up this road!  There were a few signs of civilization at the start….a few cabins and a few snowmobiles parked until Winter. But shortly there was nothing but wide open spaces with not another soul in sight…….

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The scenery was breathtaking! Wildflower meadows…..

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Rocky hillsides…….

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Streams and waterfalls…….


And a lovely view of Lake Irwin whenever we stopped to catch our breath (which was often!)


The road continued up…..and up…..Not steep. It was truly a ‘moderate’ grade. But, this altitude! It is a humbling experience to find ourselves out of breath with such a modest effort. We walked slowly, stopping often (actually, every bend in the road), making steady, if slow, progress.

The good thing about going slow and stopping often is that you get to really appreciate the beauty of the day. The air was cool when the breeze blew, warm in the sunshine. The sky was blue with just enough clouds to look pretty. The company was good (it always is when Fred and I are together.) Red heart


And before long we were at the overlook…..It was beautiful…….and exhilarating……IMG_1011

And, yes, a bit dizzying!


It was the perfect place to have lunch…….


With our lunch break finished, we got ready to hike the last tenth or so of a mile to our turn-around.

That is Scarp Ridge in the background. The trail would continue around and up a slope (noted as only moderate) to the Ridge, then across the Ridge to the summit. One could continue on to make this a loop trail. But, not today……


The road ended at a lovely alpine meadow.


The end of the road……..but who would have guessed that we would see a truck there!

After savoring our time here, we turned and headed back down hill. It was downhill all the way….and pretty easy walking. Much easier on our lungs! Before we knew it, we were back to our truck……

Total hiking time (including breaks) about 3.5 hours.  A wonderful hike and an afternoon well spent…….       : )

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