Collegiate Loop Day 5 – Yale Side Trip

While not part of the loop, this side trip was a highlight. It was our first 14er, and the conditions were perfect, and emphasized by the previous evening’s weather. While it was less than 5 miles, it took nearly 7 hours. I found the boulder hopping particularly tiring, but otherwise this route was fine. It is the East ridge route, and the various guides give a broad range of “advice” for how difficult it is (e.g. 14ers, Alltrails). While it was fine for us on this day, I can see how different weather would make it a very different challenge. The hopping-over-wobbly-rocks is an accident waiting to happen, which would also make things more interesting! We both suffered some minor bruising, but fortunately nothing more. Our pants filled with rocks from sliding in the rubble, with mine getting ripped! The following text and photos will attempt to describe it:

Up at four. With a temperature just below 40. S had slept well. P had been restless and cold for the first half of the night and then slept well. Both of us were ready to get up and get going so we packed our packs as day packs left our tent closed, hung our food and hit the trail at 4:50 with head torches. Beautiful sunrise but really can’t describe the beauty as we looked over to Mount Princeton and its partial snow covering and up the valley towards Yale. The first .7 mile of the trail was a well-defined path along the ridge but then we started having to scramble around rocky outcrops on the ridge through either loose rock or gravel. We left our poles as we used our hands a lot for the scrambling. With a clear blue sky the sunrise continued to impress as we made our way up the ridge. Dropped off ridge a couple of times to avoid large outcrops including one particularly loose gravely area at around 12700 ft. but we made it. The rock hopping was tiring both physically and mentally and we had to skirt around some snow patches but never needed our micro spikes. It was a long slow tough climb. We arrived on the summit shortly before 9:00 joining some other hikers who had come up the other easier trail. While all the views were impressive the most impressive mountains were Princeton, Harvard and Colombia and to the west of Yale the whole valley was still full of clouds. We chatted to a couple of guys from Texas who were on their 30’s and 40’s and advised S to do more of this hiking when he is young. They strongly recommended the Belford-Oxford hike and convinced us the Harvard Colombia traverse was too much of a commitment. We ate our Three Musketeers which was hard as rock which reflected the below freezing temperature. At the top the rock had frosty crystals on it. We hung out for around 30 minutes in a hole shielded from the wind and started making our way down as clouds were already forming. We spotted someone else coming up the East ridge and chatted to the lone trail runner for awhile about his experiences. Going down was tiring especially for P and he had to concentrate the whole time not to slip. Both P and S had minor falls with minor pain but were ok. We both slid down the gravely slope for quite some distance which filled S’s pants with gravel and tore P’s pants. We made it back to the hiking poles where S’s handles which had been laying on the ground had been significantly chewed up by marmots. But P’s had been stuck upright in the dirt and were fine but had risked being blown over. From that point back to the tent both S and P were imagining how much damage the marmots inflicted on our tent but everything was actually fine.

GPS Hiking stats:
4.73 miles, 6 hours 39 minutes
Ascent 2618 ft., Descent 2687 ft.

The trail immediately leads you above tree line and the views open up.
There is something special about hiking up a mountain at sunrise.
Good morning! The foreground shows one of the early rocky outcrops on the ridge that is best to navigate around.
Gotta love iPhone’s panorama mode!
A photo of our shadows is a hiking tradition. This shows a clear trail on the ridge.
Looking North towards Harvard (middle) and Columbia (right). We had planned to hike the ridge between these two, but advice from other hikers on the top of Yale, coupled with this view, persuaded us it would be unwise.
There was a great view of Mount Princeton.
Small puddles of ice indicated the low temperature.
We could see the route to the top, which avoided most of the snow.
The frosty rocks show the cold! Fortunately, most rocks were not covered this way as it was slippery.
This is why a father goes backpacking with his son!
It doesn’t get much better than this!
We make a canvas panorama print for Samuel’s bedroom wall from each of our trips. This is one of the best!
I love how the wildflowers even thrive in this hostile environment.
Some of the wobbly rock hopping!
Looking back down our route up. While some of the terrain is easy, the two humps were best avoided, yet still included steep and loose gravel.
The views continue to impress.
The handles of hiking poles left on the ground do not survive the marmot interest!

This page is linked to from my Collegiate Loop home page.

Published by Peter Ireland

I am originally from England, and my wife is from Louisiana. When we started Geocaching in 2002, we needed a name, and the Cajunlimeys were created, and that is the name I use for my blog. Even though Janet has no Cajun blood, her cooking is excellent! We live in Houston, Texas, with Bailey and Samuel. We love adventures and wanted to be able to share the experiences with others. When planning trips, I have found other people’s sites very useful, so I want to give back and add a different perspective.

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