First Attempt at Old Baldy

My goal for the hike this weekend was to really test myself, not only physically, but also mentally, as I prepared for my 2019 14er. To accomplish this goal, I knew I needed to get into elevation and I needed a fairly steep climb. I chose the hike to Old Baldy, for two main reasons. First, it was far enough away from town that I thought I had a chance at avoiding Fourth of July tourists. Second, Old Baldy is a Class 1 13er, which I figured was enough to test me, but also not be too crazy. I couldn’t find a track for Old Baldy itself, but using the trail track for South Arapahoe Peak, it looked to be about 6 miles round trip, with about 2500’ elevation gain. Perfect little test.

When I got to Fourth of July road (perfect time to go), it was way later than I planned, about 10:30am, and I was warned by the rangers that there wouldn’t be any parking, but I could go wait for someone to come down. I decided to take my chances. Fourth of July road is pretty rough, and I’m glad I had my Outback, though I saw several sedans making the journey. I wasn’t worried about clearance, but it was rocky enough that I worried about a flat tire. It was about 4 miles of bumpy, rough road before reaching the parking areas and trailhead. There were a few parking areas along the side of the road, and miraculously I found a spot in one of these.

This photo doesn’t do the road justice on how bumpy it was to this point

I would guess there were maybe 20 road spots. At the trailhead, there were another 30 or so spots, which were all full. Parking along the street added another half mile, each way, to my journey.

Starting up Arapahoe pass trail, there were several small stream crossings, and it was rocky terrain. There were certainly no “easy” steps. The views were spectacular, and Old Baldy looked ready to be conquered!

The snow melt from our late summer snow created quite a few streams and waterfalls that had to be crossed. I have to imagine later in summer, a lot of these may be dried up. I only had low top hiking boots, which said waterproof on them, but I wish I would’ve had something more waterproof for this hike.

Most of the people there were going left to Diamond Lake. Will have to check that out next time too!

There were several small patches of snow along the way, which were well packed from other hikers, but were also very slippery from the sun melting them. Hiking poles would’ve been a plus today, but I didn’t have too much trouble traversing them.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking for a little while…

Needless to say, the views were absolutely spectacular. There’s not much I can say that could come close to describing the beauty. It was truly one of those moments where you just stand back in awe.

The snow wasn’t too bad, until I reached the turn off for Arapahoe Glacier trail, which split from the Arapahoe Pass trail.

I started encountering pretty deep snow, post holing up to my hip a couple of times. This, combined with the several streams I had walked through, created quite the puddle inside my boots.

Sinking in this deep wasn’t fun in shorts..
I kept telling myself if I could just make it through this little snow, I would be clear up there…

Due to the snow and the lack of other hikers, it was incredibly difficult to follow the trail. At one point, I found myself just scrambling to try to find footprints. Shorts and a t-shirt was not the proper attire for this trek.

Looking back on my route up. Not sure if this was the trail or not… Probably not…

I stopped at one point on a rock I found, in the middle of a snow field, to take them off and try to dry my feet in the sun. It quickly became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to make it through with my current gear. Not only was every step a challenge, with the threat of sinking three feet down looming, but I knew that I was going to have to come BACK through all of this on the way down.

Perched on my rock, surrounded by snow. This was as far as I made it before turning around
Struggling to find the trail on my way down, but it made for some spectacular pictures
Perfect shot of the dry and snowy trail all in one
Afternoon storms on their way to make life fun for those that are going up at this time..

I ran into a little (I think) marmot on my way down. I got as close as I could, before he scampered down the mountainside.

Hey there little guy!!
Aaaaaaaand he’s gone!

It was disappointing that I didn’t reach my goal of conquering Old Baldy , but my journey was far from disappointing. I personally think this is, overall, my favorite hike I’ve been on in Colorado thus far. It had off-roading to get there, waterfalls, stream crossings, snow, wild life, and spectacular views. I couldn’t have asked for any more!! You can rest assured that I’ll be back to finish this hike.

Summiting Carpenter’s Peak

Carly and I have started a small “Colorado Bucket List”, which consists of things that we really want to do while we’re out here, and it’s meant to be a list that is continuously updated as we complete things and think of new adventures. It’s a way to keep track of ideas when they spring up, so we remember them when the inevitable “what should we do this weekend?” comes up.

One item on our list in particular has been there even before we moved out here: climb a 14er. A 14er is a 14,000ft peak, and there are numerous hikes that reach this elevation in Colorado. We have read and have been told by friends that Mt. Bierstadt is the first fourteener that you should do, but we decided we should test ourselves a little bit before we jumped right into such a challenge. The Mt. Bierstadt hike is about 7 miles round trip, so we were looking for a hike that was similar in length, but at a lower elevation, so we could work our way up.

After a little bit of searching, we settled on the Carpenter’s Peak trail in Roxborough State Park, about 20 minutes south of Denver. The trail was an out and back, at about 6.3 miles round-trip, according to AllTrails. A good challenge, but not something that was going to be as rough as a fourteener. It was also at a much lower elevation.

We arrived at the parking lot around 9:30am on July 4th, and the parking lot was pretty full already. We didn’t have too much trouble finding a parking spot, but I would recommend getting there a little earlier if you don’t want to worry about waiting.
We had filled up both of our backpack reservoirs the night before, so we had sufficient water. We also had packed a couple of sandwiches, trail mix, and some other snacks in my backpack for the trek. Feeling prepared for what was about to come, we set off on our adventure.

The hike started off pretty steep at first, with a series of stairs to climb, but the sign did warn that this was the strenuous trail. The trail was nice though, and we expected to be tested. It leveled off a bit after the first mile or so, to where it was at least a gradual climb and not stairs, which was definitely easier to manage.

It was an extremely hot day, with full sun baring down, so any time we came across some shade, it was much appreciated. Unfortunately, the shady spots were few and far between. We had plenty of water and sunscreen, though, so we journeyed onward.

We were certainly exhausted by the time we finally reached the summit, but the views were absolutely gorgeous, and made the hard work worth it.

We spent some time taking the view in, and taking some pictures, but it was time to get into some shade in order to eat our sandwiches we brought. Just below the summit, there was a nice shady spot under a tree, and, since neither of us wanted to hike very far before eating, we decided this would be the place.


We ate our lunches and relaxed in the peace that nature brings for a little while longer, but eventually it was time to make our descent. I think both of us underestimated the toll that the downhill portion would take on our legs, and knees in particular, but it was painful. I think it was at this moment that we both decided maybe we weren’t quite ready for a fourteener yet, and made me glad that Carly had talked me out of doing it today.


All in all, it was a great hike, and gave us a good idea of where we were at physically, in terms of whether we would be able to make the Mt. Bierstadt hike or not. While we both made it without any issues, our legs are both going to be sore for a few days I have a feeling.