After finishing Quandary and Evans I headed down to the San Juan Range with the intention of climbing a few peaks on my own, but I got a last minute text from my Minnesota Partner In Crime–she was game for climbing with me! We met up in Buena Vista, got dinner, and headed to what we thought was a passable road to the trailhead for Handies. When we got to the Alpine Loop near Ouray we both decided our small 2WD cars weren’t up for the trek, and we weren’t about to walk an extra 20+ miles to climb Handies. Our only option was to drive a few hours back to Lake City. At one point we slept in our cars and then kept driving. We got almost all the way to the trailhead from our new approach, much to the surprise of the tricked out jeep drivers we encountered along the way. The road was rugged, but doable at this point for both Minnesota and me. We parked, put on our packs, and got to hiking.
The day was clear and the sun was shinning, there wasn’t one cloud in the ultra-blue sky. There was a gentle breeze now and then that made the flowers dance. Some flowers were still colorful and vibrant, while others had began to ready themselves for a new season–a new season that I still can’t believe is almost here! The path to Handies was pretty straight forward and it wasn’t what I would consider to be difficult, but like any 14er it was enough to get my heart pumping. Every now and again I’d catch myself out of breath or feeling the burn in my legs. When Minnesota and I reached the final leg of the climb, we decided to run! It was fun, I always like running up the last little bit when it’s possible, I don’t know why.
At the summit there were a lot of hardened older hikers who gave Minnesota and I tips for the more difficult peaks we have coming up. There were a bunch of sweet labs at the top too, they were all well behaved and respectful. There was one in particular that I liked. He was so sleepy and calm and happy to be laying against his owner in the bright warmth of the sun, so I took his picture!
On the way down, Minnesota and I paid a visit to a little lake. I looked at it, took pictures of it, contemplated its existence, then I went for a swim in it! It was cold but fresh, it took my breath away but made me feel more alive, it was perfect. I couldn’t tread its turquoise beauty for more than a few minutes, but I was glad I took a dip. After I was done with my shenanigans it was time to continue along the descent. Minnesota and I talked and laughed and told each other stories, it was so fun having company again!
When Minnesota and I got back to our cars, we were ready for a nap! I put down my tarp and sleeping bag near some happy-dancing flowers, and then fell asleep.