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Mt Belford + Mt Oxford = 2 Mountains in 1 Day!

Posted Jul 12 2013 2:37pm

We got ambitious this past weekend and decided to push our limits a bit. Initially we were just going to hike two 14ers – Mt Belford and Mt Oxford – in the same day. That is a pretty big deal of us, giving us a total of 11 miles on the mountain. A little research made it pretty obvious that it would be a great idea to backpack a few miles up the trail, camp and start hiking early.

While we have gone car camping in the middle of nowhere we have never actually packed our gear into the wilderness. The trailhead was only 1.5 miles from the tree line {the highest we could safely camp with the stormy forecast} so we could pull this off, right?! We had all the gear so we decided to go for it!

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We arrived at the trailhead on Sunday evening and started our hike up the mountain with the rumble of thunder overhead. Not ideal for camping but we had checked the forecast and were prepared. It drizzled a little as we set up camp but for the most part it was just a lot of thunder and not a lot of rain. Until about midnight…we woke up the lightning, thunder and pouring rain.

Luckily all of our gear did its job so we didn’t get wet but sleeping wasn’t exactly possible as the lightning lit up the forest and thunder literally cracked all around us. It was incredible. We were in dense trees that we weren’t at risk and there was no terrified cat to make me feel guilty. I just laid in my sleeping bag enjoyed the impressive storm!

When the alarm went off at 3:02am I did not want to get up and hike. I made Chris check the sky as I secretly hoped it was still clouded over. No such luck for sleepy me. Where I’d hoped for clouds Chris found thousands of stars. I really couldn’t complain; the forest was so peaceful and the sky so beautiful!

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We were on the trail by 3:45am. It has been a long time since I have actually wandered around in the darkness without city lights and it was rather surreal. I kept turning my headlamp off to just be in the darkness. The trail started out with a gradual climb but within a half mile we were trucking our way up a long stretch of switchbacks. I am so incredibly thankful it was dark and I could not look up and see how much more elevation we had to gain!

After the switchbacks the hiking got easier and we hit the Mt Belford summit before 7am. It was an odd looking summit. A long stretch of the mountain top was fairly level with this big pile of spiny rocks just sitting there. That pile of rock was the official summit. A very windy official summit. Layers were added and photos were taken before we were on our way.

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On the hike up we had gone back and forth about whether or not we would hike Mt Oxford as well. It was our original plan but it looked so far away! The fact we would basically have to re-summit Mt Belford if we saved Mt Oxford for the future kept us going. The hike along the saddle looks daunting but it isn’t too bad – the Mt Oxford summit is definitely the easier of the two.

When we were at the top of Mt Belford I just wanted to give up and go home. I was cold and very annoyed with how much my legs resisted the climb. Chris had to do some crafty reasoning to get me across that saddle and I’m so glad he did. We ate on our way to the saddle and the more gradual climb to Mt Oxford put me in a completely different mood! Hiking mountains became fun again, the tiny mountain flowers were cute instead of stupid and we found a toaster on top of Mt Oxford…not sure how that wouldn’t put someone in a better mood!

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We got to the Mt Oxford summit before 9am and spent some time just taking it all in. The clouds were being silly – the low hanging clouds in the surrounding valleys were rising and just disappearing. Eventually we made our way back toward the saddle and Mt Belford. The hike back across the saddle was a challenge with a big climb back up Mt Belford – essentially the 3rd summit of the day. As we trudged our way up the saddle we were entertained by some of the fattest marmots I have ever seen!

On 14ers.com only one route is listed for both Mt Belford and Mt Oxford – the standard route which is an out and back. A little research and a few trip reports later it became obvious there is another route off the mountain – Elkhead Pass. This route goes out along the end of the basin above Missour Gulch, drops down into the valley then follows the creek back to “the cabin”. It is a longer route but it is a much more gradual descent which makes it a lot easier on the knees.

We got onto the Elkhead Pass at the top of the saddle, just before the trail headed back up to Mt Belford. The trail looks like it was going the wrong way but it loops around and our knees thanked us profusely for hiking the extra 1.5 miles or so. We were able to really scoot along the trail and before long we were at the split for Missouri Mountain . For about 3 seconds we considered hitting up another mountain than quickly came to our senses.

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We arrived back to “the cabin” around noon, packed up camp and headed out for the last 1.5 miles to the car. I completely forgot how much climbing we did to get to our campsite and the last stretch of switchbacks did a number on my quads and feet. The first thing I did was drop my bag and take off my shoes and socks – sweet relief!

The car was all packed up and we were headed home by 2pm, the earliest we ever completed a 14er hike! I think we will be leaving at very early hours more often. Maybe not with 3am alarms, but darn close. It was refreshing to hike in the dark and not having a “beat the storm” rush was a nice change!

The post Mt Belford + Mt Oxford = 2 Mountains in 1 Day! appeared first on run.around.aroo .

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