Belford - Oxford - Missouri
September 6 - September 8
3 Days - 2 Nights
Total Miles: 18.5 | Duration: 13.5 Hours | Ascent: 7800 ft
The Missouri Gulch Trail is one of the steeper trails I've hiked so far in the Colorado Rockies. From the trail head, I walk nearly 2000 vertical feet in 2.1 miles, reaching base camp in a little under an hour and a half. Though the smog was still around from fires burning in the west, it was a comfortable evening with temperatures appropriate for climbing steep hills. I could not have asked for better weather making my way to base camp for night one.
While I was awake around 6:15 am, I did not hit the trail before 8:00 am. Drinking coffee, eating breakfast and figuring out what I wanted to pack up to the top of Belford and Oxford took some time; I rushed to take care of some smaller duties as well before leaving base camp.
Near the top of Mount Belford, the first peak of the day, the wind started to pick up but the sun was warm and I found a nice spot out of the wind to have a snack on the summit. The view this morning was quite incredible. With some smog still around, there was a nice warm glow to the sunlight which I enjoy.
I worked my way across a saddle to Mount Oxford and was there by 11:30 am. With a comfortable "shelter" at the top to keep out of the wind, I talked with a gentleman, Bob, who I had met in the parking lot yesterday. He and I held the same strategy for this 3 day adventure. After our conversation was over and Bob had left, I ate some more food and stretched a little before the long downhill to base camp.
My body was feeling good on the downhill and the weather mostly held off, but I did have some snow and hail showers (as seen in the video). Back to base camp by 1:00 pm, my afternoon consisted of eating, washing things, making drinking water and sleeping. Not necessarily in that order. I was definitely asleep before sunset.
With it having rained on and off all night long, I was slightly concerned with my chances of making it to the top of Missouri Mountain. I performed a similar routine to yesterday morning and was on the trail a little earlier, 7:00 am. There were fewer hikers going up Missouri than the other two. Having more rocks and a steep grade to hike up, I would suggest it's the most physically demanding of the three.
Nearing the top around 9:15 am, the ridge turns into a very lose mixture of sand, dirt and rock; put on a rather steep slope, I was questioning every step as to whether or not it would stay put and not slide out from under me. I can't say if the trekking poles helped or hindered the process as they were slightly in the way when my foot would slip and I would need to use my hands to hold onto sometime a bit more secure. At any rate, I reached the top of Missouri and with the smog having moved away from the area, the view was spectacular and worth every step uphill and every step downhill I would soon need to take.
At the summit, I ate some food and chatted with Vicki, who had two dogs which were full of enough energy at the top, it seemed as though they could have hiked up another 14er from there. I departed the summit first and on my way down, Vicki took a few pictures of me from a distance. It's a rare thing for me to have, as I'm usually solo or those I'm with are close by going through the same challenges as I am.
At base camp, the clouds darkened as I ate lunch. I rushed to pack up. I would rather walk in the rain with dry gear, than carry wet gear down the steep trail leading back to my car.