Mount Evans - 14,264' - Class 2 via Chicago Lakes
Spalding Peak - 13,842' - Class 1+ via Chicago Lakes
This was my first hike in Colorado after moving to Golden to start college. I think it was the second weekend of my first semester and I was a complete noob! The friend I invited was looking at the route I had proposed and was concerned about the possibility of thunderstorms but since I had lived 18 years in western Washington, that thought never even crossed my mind! Regardless we gave it a go and since I did not have a car yet he drove us out early in the morning to Echo Lake where we parked. The plan was to hike up the trail to Chicago Lakes and then take a boot path steeply to Summit Lake and then continue up the ridge to Mount Spalding. That part of the trip we executed perfectly and we made it to lower Chicago Lake in great time and I really enjoyed the high alpine lake setting. Everything was still bright green and some of the alpine plants were beginning to change color. We continued to the upper lake where we noticed more red and yellow. This hike to Chicago Lakes along I will remember for a very long time as the first alpine sight I saw in Colorado. It was a perfect bluebird day out and we started hiking up the steep slope towards Summit Lake. When we arrived I was shocked to see a paved road, cars, babies etc. and Alan finally decided to tell me oh yeah there is a road to the summit! All I could do was laugh but at the time I really didn't care I was just out to have fun. We took a nice break here and started up the fairly easy ridge to Mount Spalding which upon reaching the top this was my very first Colorado peak. I didn't even know it was unranked or what that even was at the time. I can also recall I was wearing cotton! From this summit the views down to Lake Abyss was beautiful but I was slightly disappointed at the lack of alpine ruggedness I was used to seeing in the Cascades. We decided to try and climb both Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans by traversing over the Sawtooth and back. This is where the trip started to get behind schedule. We walked across the large flat area towards a point that years later I realized was called "The Sawtooth". This high plateau was a very strange place for me. Upon reaching the summit of The Sawtooth the whole traverse lie in front of us. I looked for a way down and I saw a nice ramp descending to the ridge below and we began traversing over one rock and around the next until we reached the saddle. It was here I checked the time and realized it was about 11am so Alan and I talked it over and decided to turn around and just get Evans. The traverse back wasn't so bad and we made a long walk to the summit of Mount Evans where we were greeted with hoards of people and a giant parking lot! Since it was Labor Day though the road beyond Summit Lake was closed. On the summit we were not looking forward to the long hike back out so we met a nice couple who had hiked up from summit lake and they agreed to give us a ride down the road to Echo Lake. We enjoyed talking with then on the way down the road back to his truck. Once back at Echo Lake we were able to drive back to Golden. Although I had lots of fun on this trip I had mix opinions about the quality of Colorado's Mountains right away. I was used to seeing lush alpine lakes, rugged peaks with glaciers and many rock spires in the Cascades which wasn't seen here. I would have this feeling for about a year until Josh took me to the Gores that next fall.