drift peak - 13900' - Villa ridge class 2
Josh and I went after a sunrise summit on Drift Peak the weekend after our trip to Kneeknocker Pass to try to summit Drift Peak at sunrise. This would turn out to be a trip I will remember the rest of my life. Josh's dad drove us all the way up into Mayflower Gulch and up a very steep rough road to the crest of the ridge coming down from Drift Peak. I was terrified the whole way up since this was the first time I had ever been in a car in such a place! I never realized people drove on such roads since I had grown up in Washington where no roads like that exist. It was however dark so I didn't see anything on the drive up. Josh and I waited a couple hours in the dark before starting out. Amazingly we were already above 12,000 feet in elevation which meant we only had 1,800 feet of scrambling to do. Around 3am we started up the ridge. I had never done anything in the dark before and was excited to give it a try. The freedom of being away from home was so cool. We scrambled all the way up Villa Ridge and arrived on the summit about an hour before sunrise so we located a nice spot out of the wind to wait. Soon the first red glow of sunrise hit and I noticed there were some clouds which was going to make for a perfect sunrise. I photographed the entire sunrise and it sure was one to remember. Vibrant red, orange and yellow colors as Quandary Peak and Fletcher Peak framed the sun perfectly (see banner above). Josh scrambled down to some rock cave just below the summit but that freaked me out so I waited on the summit. We hiked down in the morning sun back to the 4-Runner where Josh's dad was waiting. After we loaded back up we spent the day off-roading in Mayflower Gulch to which we drove a side road which quickly ended and the truck began sliding off to the right and into loose rocks almost tipping over in the process! I got out as fast as I could. When we got it leveled we realized we would need to move a couple very large rocks to be able to move and drive back to the main dirt road. Without much tools though we had to improvise to move the two big rocks. Once we managed to do that he drove through open bushes and around other rocks to get back to the road. By this point I thought Coloradans were crazy but I hadn't yet realized that Washingtonians don't know what they are missing! We spent the day exploring Mayflower Gulch before heading out to Fremont Pass and driving up to an unnamed basin above the Climax Mine at the very headwaters of the Arkansas River below Mount Arkansas. We drove up a very rough road past some old mining ruins, then over a bridge consisting of two boards onward to treeline and beyond until the road ended at a small marshy area which Josh said was the true beginning of the Arkansas River. This basin was really pretty and Mount Democrat across the way was striking. Josh's dad brought his 50 caliper hand cannon along for us to shoot for target practice. Now I really was shocked! People in Colorado are crazy...they shoot hand cannons in the mountains! So we set up a target, and shot the thing. We had to lay on the ground as we didn't want to hold it since the kickback was so great. As the afternoon progressed, we noticed a small rainstorm over Climax coming our way so we started back down the road. Once back to the highway at Fremont Pass we watched the sunset glow the mountains in a vibrant orange light with storm clouds overhead. What a sight! Mount Arkansas and Mount Democrat were especially beautiful. We stopped for some dinner in Frisco on the way back to Golden.