Escaping The Nutshell
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This was an incredibly nice morning at Upper Beaver Meadows. It was a free day in RMNP, but there was only one car in the parking area when we got there at about 10 am, and it left within a few minutes. We had the trail all to ourselves as we headed southwest on the Ute Trail. There was only the sound of woodpeckers, Steller jays, and chickadees as we passed the ponderosas on the edge of the meadows.
On the way to Windy Gulch on the Ute Trail there are some really nice views of Moraine Park if you hike just a few feet to the left of the trail on the top of the moraine. At one point on the trail, just before entering Windy Gulch, there is an amazing view of Notchtop, Knobtop, Gabletop, and the Little Matterhorn. Following the Ute Trail up Windy Gulch, we stopped at Ute Meadow which is a piece of paradise, although a bit soggy this time of year.
We hiked up the Ute Trail until about the 9,800 ft level then turned right heading up the steep slope of Beaver Mountain. It was slow going with brush and talus. We finally reached the top of the Beaver Mtn west ridge near the saddle of Point 11,338 and Beaver Mountain, at an elevation of about 10,316, reaching it at 12:42.
From the saddle we followed the ridge east to the summit of Beaver Mountain. There are greats view of the Flattop Mtn area, as well as Longs Peak. For the descent, we headed east along the ridge, but to minimize travel on snow we began heading southeast, which was fairly easy going with not too much brush. This was helped by following the Iron Dike down. We finally reached the Ute Trail again at 13:59, just at the point where it branches off for two alternatives to reach Beaver Meadows: to the left is 3.5 miles, and to the right is 1.5 miles. We took the right branch.
|Place Name||Elev [ft]||Accuracy [ft]||Position (lat,lon)|
|Intersection of Ute Trail and Iron Dike||9169||33||40.35931,-105.63418|
|On saddle west of Beaver Mtn summit||10316||30||40.37054,-105.65190|
|Beaver Mtn summit||10513||20||40.36854,-105.64503|
|Beaver Meadows parking area||8462||16||40.37302,-105.61417|
© 2012 Stefan Hollos and Richard Hollos
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