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Michael K
(chinookhead) - F - M
Aztec and Kennedy Mountain in Colorado's Weminuche Wilderness with a video (south of Chicago Basin) on 07/28/2013 18:05:08 MDT Print View

Most of the following was posted on 14ers, but I thought that some here may also find it useful.

The Lime Mesa trail into the Weminuche Wilderness is very remote and sees very little use even though it is close to many of the most popular backpacking areas in Colorado like the Chicago Basin and the Ice Lakes Basin. Ryan and I only saw 2 parties for the 3 days that we were in this area. One party (6 people going for a 1.5 week adventure), had actually chosen this trail in order to access the Chicago Basin without the train. This place sees such little use because no where is "close" to it. You have to drive about 1.5 hours down a good dirt called Missionary Ridge Road (North of Durango off the Million Dollar Highway) in order to reach it. However, IMHO, the effort is worth it because on top of the mesa you are treated to constant views and the options are endless in this wide open country. This is a great place to see Elk. We saw 4 large herds of elk (2 numbering at least over 2 dozen).
elk


Day One—We made it a bit up the 4wd trail until it was too much for my Subaru Forester. Then, we did a bit of bushwacking to connect with the main trail. This is not very thick (not Gore Mountain like) or tough bushwacking and there are several unofficial trails with which we connected before hitting the main trail. On our way to setting up camp at Ruby Lake, we put down our packs and hiked up Overlook Point.

Day 2—We followed the ridge lines to the east of Ruby Lake in order to hike up Kennedy Mountain (13,125 ft) and Aztec Mountain (13, 310 ft.) Kennedy’s false grassy flat summit that you see in the distance from the east tricked us.kennedy
The actual summit seems to be a rocky summit just past this one. Then, as you continue East towards, Aztec, we were confronted by a ridge that Ryan called “hard class 3”. Unfortunately, I did not get a video of this area b/c at this point, I was way behind Ryan. Here, a person has to negotiate 3 rock towers. You pretty much have to go around the 1st two, but the 3rd one, you can go over (Ryan went over it). Initially, I was a bit intimidated (an inexperienced climber), but I was usually able to find relatively easy lines by looking at each obstacle one at a time and several times dropping to the south side of the ridge that was much less steep than the sheer drop on the north side. Once, I just looked at each obstacle, one at a time, I really started enjoying myself.

Then, there is an easy and wide platform to walk on the ridge. Next, there is a class 2 ridge walk with brief narrow sections with a steep drop-off on the north and south sides. Ryan was way ahead of me by the time we reached the 1st hard class 3 section and I think that he did not know if I would continue past it. He is a very fast hiker, in much better shape than me, and a more experienced climber. Plus, I usually like to stop and take pictures etc. He coached me and encouraged me through this final summit walk, since he was excited to see that I did not turn around.
Ridges of Aztec

This was an exhausting but rewarding day with lots of up and down and ankle straining walking on the sides of hills. On the way back, we got to see 2 goats directly above us.
goats
goat 2

The Marmots at our base camp at Ruby Lake were extremely aggressive and chew on everything. They chewed on my foam sit pad and my fishing rod handles. I knew to prop up my hiking poles, but I did not expect my fishing rod handles to have enough salt to attract them.
Ruby Lake Base Camp
During our 1st night, somebody pooped in my bowl in my frying pan that I had outside of our tent. Out of all places to choose to go to the bathroom.....somebody chose my bowl! Do you think that it was a marmot and what do you think is the white cloudy stuff all around it?
poop

Here is a link to a youtube video of mainly the final class 2+ ridge to the summit of Aztec Mountain.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy0YfQ5JQ14

[urldecode]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy0YfQ5JQ14[/url]

It would be great if someone could show me how to post the above youtube video or you could just post it in a comment.

Edited by chinookhead on 07/28/2013 19:07:23 MDT.