Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ajax Peak

Even though Wilson Peak is my favorite mountain, I definitely take more photos of Ajax Peak. It's the perfect backdrop to anything you do in Telluride. Jay hiked Ajax last summer on a day that I was stuck at the computer working, and Monday of this week I decided I was ready to hike it with him. The hike begins at the house at the top of Bridal Veil Falls. From there you have to hike up Black Bear Pass to the Ajax trailhead which is next to the steps.
Here is Jay on Black Bear Pass with the Black Bear Mill behind him.
We couldn't have asked for better weather. It was sunny and a great temperature.
There are three mining cables above the steps of Black Bear Pass. The trailhead for Ajax is between the second and third cable.
There is a "swing" from one of the mining cables that someone has taped duct tape on and apparently you are really a Tellurider if you have been on this swing. I definitely did not want Jay to do it, but what did him in was me saying, "You're almost 40 years old!" He tried it out first by hand.
Then of course he decided he would try it on foot. I had my cell phone and was prepared to call for rescue if necessary.
I do not in any way endorse swinging from 100-year-old mining equipment. These photos are for entertainment purposes only.
This is what the trailhead for Ajax Peak looks like. There is no sign, but watch for the cairn on the left side of the road.
The poor wild flowers are withering away. These actually looked like they were crying.
The house at the top of Bridal Veil Falls is in this photo. Can you see it? You might have to click on it to see the larger version.
I think it's autumn above timberline.
There are two Jeeps on Black Bear Pass in this one. Again, you might have to click and view a larger version to see them.
Silver Lake was across from me here, with Lizard Head Peak, Mt. Wilson, El Diente and Wilson Peak above. Silver Lake is another difficult hike I would like to do sometime.
Looking down on Imogene Pass and the ghost town of Tomboy.
Are we there yet? No, seriously....
This looks like a scary and difficult trail, but this part was actually easy. It was the steep switchbacks before we got to the rocky part of the trail that were the hardest.
Mt. Sneffels is just right of center here.
Right before the summit there is a huge grassy area. Jay even mentioned it looked like we should run around singing, ♫ The hills are alive with the sound of music! ♪ I was a little bit dizzy, so I refrained from running and spinning around for fear of falling off the cliff.
The view of Telluride from the summit is amazing. You have a nice view of some of the ski runs on the left above town and the large green patches on the east side of town are mine tailings that have grass grown over them. The mine tailings look bigger than town from up here.
The summit of Ajax is 12,785 feet. We had an elevation gain of almost 2,500 feet in just 2 1/2 miles. I'm still breaking in my boots and my feet, so I had some blisters by the time I got to the top. On the way down, I had severe knee pain to look forward to! I think a steep hike is somewhat like childbirth. You forget the pain you went through because the sense of accomplishment and the reward was so great at the end that you're ready to do it again before you know it. Jay thinks Ajax is a good practice for doing something harder like Uncompahgre Peak. Maybe next year I can try it.
There is a yellow bottle at the summit with scraps of paper stuffed inside that you can sign as an unofficial register. The pen in the bottle is out of ink, so if you happen to be hiking up Ajax, please take a new pen to leave in the bottle!
My favorite red spot is to the right of Jay, the summit of Imogene Pass. Ajax isn't high enough to see the "sea of mountains" like Jay and Garrett saw from the summit of Uncompahgre Peak. It would have had to have been a 13er or 14er to see that.
It was really strange to be able to see Imogene Pass and Black Bear Pass at the same time. You may have to click on this to see a larger version, but both roads are visible at the far left and far right of the photo.
Time to go back! We had to pick Maralee up from school by 3:10 and we were on the summit at 12:30.
That's Trico Peak left of center. This part of the trail looks easy, but it's so steep in places that it becomes slippery. We were side-stepping and using our hiking poles a lot. Ajax Peak is a pretty significant hike in the Telluride area, and I couldn't find very much information about it. If you are interested in seeing many more photos of the trail, click HERE.
Autumn colors above the timberline.
There is a lot less water flowing down Ingram Falls now that the time of snow melting has slowed down. It was no problem finding rocks to step on to keep from getting our feet wet.
The Black Bear Mill is the last photo I took on the way down. Having to hike back down Black Bear Pass after hiking Ajax Peak is totally exhausting and was killing our knees. I was ready to hitch a ride with whatever vehicle might pass by. Going up and down three flights of stairs to do 10 loads of laundry today has been awesome for my knee recovery.
We keep losing friends to various parts of the country, and just found out about some that won't be returning this winter, but Jonnie is back from Australia working for the Marshal's Office and his wife Katie will be back soon and wants to go hiking!! Maybe we can make it back up to Blue Lake before the winter weather is here to stay.
Here's a video of Ingram Falls, much calmer than it was when I stood in the water earlier this summer.


leynasmom said...

Good for you Lisa! I'm impressed! Great pictures also; looks like fall is coming soon.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Ah... splendid photos! What a wonderful trek! I would love to have joined you on that journey!! Magnificent!!

julie said...

Very nice! Great journey! Lisa... did you notice that it looks like the walking pole stabbed you in the head on top of Ajax?! ;)