Shrine Mountain Hike (Aug 30)

Susan and I mostly hike in our "backyard", Rocky Mountain National Park, but because we have family in other Colorado locations, we sometimes hike something totally new.

In late August, we were staying in Breckenridge and learned about the Shrine Mountain hike, so we decided to check it out. The morning of this last day of August greeted us with a rainbow, so we waited until the afternoon to start.

The morning view from our digs in Breckenridge

The trailhead wasn't far from Breckenridge on Shrine Pass Road, near Vail Pass, and was off an easily navigable gravel/dirt road along I-70. The Shrine Mountain summit is at 11,888 ft and the hike totals about 4.2 miles long with about 650 ft of gain.

The pink line was our track for the hike, starting at Shrine Pass

Even though the skies were cloudy and there was a chance of rain in the forecast, we decided to give it a try, hitting the trail about 2pm.

Hitting the trail

Sure enough just 10 minutes into the hike, the rain began to fall. Rather than turn around, we just put on our rain gear and kept going. Since it was late in the day, there was a steady stream of people returning from this popular hike, and we got some funny looks and comments as we headed on up the trail into the rain.

Mike was happy to have his rain hat on this somewhat muddy hike

The rain was variable and we enjoyed having the trail to ourselves. Mike enjoyed using his new pack, designed for hiking with photography gear, and the waterproof rain fly got its first deployment, keeping the camera gear dry. Since the SLR was packed away more than usual, most of our early shots on the hike were shot with the iPhone.

iPhone panorama from along the trail

We really loved the unusual red rock formations near the summit and some of the late summer wildflowers along the trail.

Along the trail

Mike on the summit

Susan exploring a little beyond the summit

iPhone panorama from the summit

After the hike, we returned to Breckenridge where we went to an Art Festival where Susan's Djembe drumming teacher, friend and musician was playing. It was fun to listen to their excellent instrumental guitar music in Breck.

Skanson & Hansen rocking out in Breckenridge

We enjoyed this hike so much, Mike saw the potential for this hike and summit as a sunrise location, and since the weather the next morning was forecast to be nicer, we planned to get up super early and be on the summit for sunrise.

When the alarm went off about 3 a.m., Susan decided to sleep in, and Mike ended up going back up the mountain alone, hitting the trail in the dark and at the summit was treated to some beautiful light, but not many clouds to add interest. No complaints though. It was a gorgeous morning.

Eastern sky with a couple of stars; viewed from the summit at 5:54am

The hike is so-named because it affords an excellent view of the Mount of the Holy Cross.

Mt Holy Cross, the next morning

View from the summit with the sun coming up

Fireweed at the summit

After the sun came up, I noticed a backpacker had set up his tent on the rocks a little ways north of the summit and I watched for him or her to come out and pose for me. :-)

Can you see the tent and camper standing outside? What a spot to wake up!

Back on the trail

A little ground squirrel gets off the ground for breakfast :-)

The Shrine Mountain trail is said to be one of the finest wildflower hikes in Colorado, and we look forward to proving this to ourselves next summer.

Indian Paintbrush and Lupines were in full bloom everywhere

On the way back to the trailhead

After Mike's sunrise hike we went into town, taking the free gondola up to one of the lodges and had a snack before returning back "home" so Mike could take a nap.

This might be the first time we've done the same 4+ mile hike two days in a row. Very fun way to burn some calories. :-)

Photographic evidence of why getting up early is often worth it!

No comments:

Post a Comment