Date Climbed: July 6, 2018
Elevation: 14,003 Ft
The week was an arduous one. After having completed a the roughest road march I can think of up to Lake Como in scorching heat just two days previous, and knocking out the Little Bear-Blanca Traverse with the Ellingwood triple crown, we opted to pack out that very same day. All this had taken place just the previous day; from here I had driven well into the night to reach a private camping spot just outside of Leadville (for those of you unfamiliar with the area, the Sangres are about as far south as you can get, while Leadville is well north).
After setting up the tent, I immediately passed out and woke up to my obnoxious alarm which came all too soon. The sun was just beginning to rise. Time for coffee! I'm sure the shops were thrilled to have a smelly backpacker enter their establishments, but I'm sure I was hardly the first. After grabbing a map and some coffee, I took the road north over Tennessee Pass and up into the Holy Cross Wilderness where I soon arrived at the remote trailhead therein.
As my friends had promised, the hike in was spectacular. Green lay in every direction, and the day was beautiful. Granted, my pace was extremely slow from the previous weeks exertions, but my feet were healthy overall, and camp was not far-off.
Once on the other side of Half Moon, I descended 1000 feet into East Cross Creek. Campsites were abundant and uncrowded, offering an early camp. I took the one closest to the river, wanting to rest as much as possible before the next day, and not wanting to do too much hiking to reach water. I was a little nervous camping alone in bear territory, yet the steady stream of hikers made me feel a little more at ease.
Having arrived so early, the day passed slowly, yet when night came, I rested soundly, lulled to sleep by the rushing water just a few yards from my campsite. Early the next morning, I awoke refreshed and ready.
I pushed hard, yet my legs still lacked the power from my previous hikes. Although within a week, I'd be a much stronger hiker, I was still worn out from the previous days, so the going was ultimately slow. Soon, I caught up with another lone hiker who wanted to team up for the summit push. Agreeing, we encouraged each other onward and upward, sharing about ourselves and any other adventures we'd been on.
To be honest, I remember little about him, I just remember the topic of Aconcagua coming up, which he had a lot of questions about. I shared everything I could, including the emotional recovery it took from such a long journey. Soon, we reached the summit and took a few pictures to celebrate the moment.
My friend decided to leave early, and went on his way. I stayed on top, savoring the sights and beauty of the creation around me. I was a little sad I had taken the standard way up. For a few years now, I have wanted to ascend the peak via the famed Cross Couloir; a sight I would never see (and still have not seen) on this trip as the face was hidden from view on approach. One day still, I intend to ski the thing, God-willing my leg returns to normal.
In that moment, I had not a care in the world. I was just glad to have another down. On the descent, I took my time. Saving my legs for the inevitable 1000 foot gain of Half Moon Pass, I stopped a couple of times to take in water and food.
Once at camp, I refilled one of my bottles and broke down my site. By this point, I was very efficient at setting up and putting away gear, and I was out of the area within 20 minutes. A quick stop by the river to soak my feet, and up the pass I went. I'm sure there are some details that elude me as the years have passed, but from what I can remember, the ascent to the top of Half Moon was nothing exceedingly difficult. Not nearly the challenge some of my friends had made it out to be (though some of them had completed the whole trip in a single day).
Once at the top, the remaining mileage tumbled and soon I was at my truck. On to the next one!