Posts Tagged ‘Payne Benchmark’

It seems our 4 pitch climb of the Second Apron on Mount Evans might have beaten up Pete’s toes again. So our plans changed at the last minute (which by now I’ve decided is standard operating procedure) and I took off to the Lost Creek Wilderness on my day off.

Starting from the Brookside-Payne Trailhead right at 6am I marched up the trail enjoying the cool morning and trying not to push too hard. Today would be a 17+ mile hike with over 5,000 feet of gain, and the weekend was just starting.

Sunrise came and illuminated the few remaining clouds from last night’s storms, then poked at me through the trees and teased with the warmer temperatures I knew would arrive eventually.

The trail ducked out of the sun’s view for a bit and crossed a small creek. Well-watered raspberries provided a second breakfast while a squirrel scolded me for raiding his stash.

For over two hours I worked on gaining the 3,000+ feet to an unnamed saddle on the Brookside-McCurdy Trail.

Along the way I was disappointed to see that all the wildflowers were well past their prime and fading quickly. However, the mushrooms were starting to take their place.

Once I reached the 11,240 foot saddle I left the trail for the bushwhack to “No Payne” – the day’s highpoint at 11,789 feet.

On the summit I rifled through the register and recognized a lot of familiar names. I also enjoyed the view southwest towards Peaks X, Y and Z and remembered the Alphabetizer hike I’d done almost two years ago.

Turning back I soon descended back to the saddle then started climbing up the north-facing slopes on the other side to reach Payne Benchmark, my second peak of the day and only 9 feet lower than the first.

I decided to definitely head for a third peak today, the weather was good and I had plenty of time. Descending and continuing south I worked my way lower and through a lot of trees towards the Payne Creek Trail and a much lower saddle at 9,890 feet.

From the saddle I had an annoying bushwhack up through really green vegetation and fallen aspens to towards the summit of “Lost Platte Peak” (10,657 feet).

I found a shaded spot on the summit and started a sandwich while signing the register. Been a few months since anyone was on this peak.

Even with a 0% chance of rain in the forecast, I didn’t completely trust the clouds, so I hustled back to the trail and then the remaining 3.8 miles of trail back to my car. Round trip was completed in just under 9 hours and now I’ve only got 5 of the 37 peaks in the Lost Creek Wilderness to go.

This post was written while enjoying, really enjoying, Mikkellar’s Beer Geek Brunch.

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