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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, this thread might take me all evening. 53 pictures with stories to boot!

After several hundred miles of fairly intense training this spring, it was time to put it to the test. For two weeks I scrutinized hiking forums, weather radars and CDOT traffic cams trying to find a reasonably dry hiking route. As the weekend approached, my list of six different trails quickly whittled down to Mt. Audubon (being able to see it from my house played a key role in that decision too). Weather forecasts made the final call on the day, Sunday. I was so super excited that I had the van loaded by noon on Saturday. The last item on my list was to go to bed early and that was that. Three snooze button whacks later I was up at 4:00am. This is when Ridik KNEW something was up. That idiot dog was begging for his own demise with howls and screeching whines that pierced the walls like a trailer without wheels being dragged down the street. Anyway, a cup of coffee and a gas stop later we were on the road only 15 minutes behind schedule. As usual, Bubba's doggy grandma gave him part of her breakfast sandwich. Needless to say he looks forward to the ride the most. The drive was uneventful and quick. We had to park about a mile from the trailhead because the top roads in the park were still snow covered. Hindsight being what it is, there were many signs of the coming challenges...




From what I had seen of pictures in hiking forums, we had prepped for some mud and snow. So as we approached the trailhead, the amount of runoff didn't surprise me...


Sure, there was some snow. But we had just spent a mile getting there so there was no turning back this early...


(cont.)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Heh, I don't think I have ever been on a trail that didn't have this sign...


Just out of sight of the trailhead we came around a bend and BAM! Admittedly, we took five and discussed what was in front of us...


These drifts ranged from rock solid to complete crystaly collapsible and from a foot to over 12 feet. The amount of energy required to move through this was several levels beyond sand...




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Discussion Starter #3
There were so many different tracks through the trees that lost the trail several times. This wasn't the best place to go gallivanting about the forest. The pine beetles have ravaged the mountains and fallen trees are strewn about everywhere. When a soft drift gives way to hidden logs, there's obviously more chance of injuries. Coco at one of our off track excursions...






More trudgery...


(cont.)
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Sorry about the so-so picture quality (ETA: It's because of how I resized the pictures), I spent over half the day on the wrong setting. These two pictures ended up interesting...




Once we started up the main incline, the snow appeared to be thinning...


Or was it? This monster was about the most difficult part of our journey. With a bit of planning and some (don't tell) off leash dogs, we finally struggled around the blockade...


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Discussion Starter #5
The view was beginning to open up at this point...


Ahhh, tree line at last...


See those little whispy clouds there? Not a good sign...


The turnoff at 10,500'. We had covered three miles in an hour and a half through snow...


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Discussion Starter #6
I've seen some big cairns before, but these things were massive...


Bubba bringing his doggy grandma along...


Long's Peak was finally visible...


Zoom...


(cont.)
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Our goal. After the excruciating trek through the woods, the summit looked a long LONG way away...


Here's where things turned. My mom took a longer break while I went just a bit further. When she caught up to us, I could see her eyes were bloodshot and then I noticed the dogs were showing signs as well. The eyes, the gums and heart rate were all telling me the journey up was pretty much over. For those of you who haven't read my baseline information posts, this hike proved how vital that info is. Make sure you know what's normal for your pets, at rest and active. If I had been alone, I probably would have soldiered on and possibly gotten very sick...


It was time for a long break and food. These two pics are probably the best from our trip. Next time I will spend the extra time to figure out scenery shots (oh, it's how I resized the pictures that screwed the quality)...




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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I truly love experiencing Bubba in his natural environment. For the most part, around here he's furniture. But when he gets out on a mountain, the sled dogs have a hard time keeping up. It's just what he does best...


One of his numerous (and annoying) snow rolls. I swear we couldn't get five minutes of movement before he collapsed to the ground in a snow roll...


Those little clouds were gaining strength. You could almost see the moisture being sucked up through the valleys. It was apparent time was starting to run short...


After a good break and a lightening of symptoms, we decided to make the ridge just below the main ascent to the summit...


(continued after dinner)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
There were plenty of runoff streams where doggies could soak up and cool off a little. It was hot and cold at the same time up there. The sun beat down and made things hot but the wind was brutal chilly...


Finally made the ridge just over two hours from starting out. Excellent views of Rocky Mountain National Park...


Looking northwest past the continental divide with the Never Summer range in the distance...


My crazy mom goes around to the edge for a valley shot...


(cont.)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Continental divide just behind Mt Audubon...


A full zoom on Long's Peak. The trail up wraps around from the left and comes out on this side before heading up. I'm not into that kind of climbing, where there are obstacles you need to step out over the edge to get around. Nope, not for me...


The curl and color was clearly defined, and it was time to hoof it back to treeline...


Looking back up at the high point we made. Time and weather didn't give us an opportunity to rest and try for the summit (13,223'). This point is 12,645...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Our blistering pace was our undoing. Well, that and not leaving early enough to beat the weather. We really should have taken more breaks on the way up, but something about the snow made us keep moving. Oh well, that's why it was a warm up hike...


One last stop to snow roll before there's no more room due to trees...




This is what Bubba did every time my mom was not within line of sight...


(cont.)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Finally back into trees, and just before the snow and lightning. The way back was quite frustrating since the snow was no longer solid. But at least we were past the single file part around the ledge...


By here my legs were dying. It was unending jumps up onto the drifts and slides back down. Over and over and over and...


Forgot the entry to treeline shot...


It's kinda hard to make it out, but Bubba is looking back at my mom to make sure she's still visible. It was starting to rain...


(cont.)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
At last, glorious pavement!...


We really did just make it out of there in time. Some folk love hiking in that crap, I'm not one of them...


Group shot...


...and how they spent the day...


I knew that was gonna take a while.

Fin.
 

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Wow, beautiful place for a hike!
I miss having mountains nearby. Nothing but scrub brush, cactus and flatlands here.
Anyway, thanks for sharing the pics. Now let me go daydream.....

Jihad
and the pound puppy crew.
 

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Lovely pics and very beautiful scenery!
 
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