Today’s training hike took us into the Pike National Forest and then to the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area as we hiked Forest Service Trail 636, Tanglewood Trail. The weather report was temperatures in the 50’s with a cold front arriving in the late afternoon. We decided to get an early start, but by the time we stopped for a sandwich, etc. it was 9 AM before we arrived at the trailhead. There were two other groups who arrived just before us and we let them go ahead of up the trail.
The forest service describes this trail as follows:
The Tanglewood Trail begins in the southeast corner of the Mt. Evans Wilderness and climbs north into a saddle on the boundary between the Pike and Arapaho National Forests. From that point the trail continues north as the Roosevelt Lakes Trail and eventually ties into the trails on the east side of the Wilderness. Immediately east of the saddle (towards Rosedale Peak) are a series of pointed rock outcroppings called “Pegmatite Points”. The upper portions of the trail are above treeline.
The trail follows narrow but fast flowing Deer Creek from the trailhead at 9280′ elevation up to a saddle east of Mt. Rosalie at 11960′. Our goal was to make it to timberline, at approximately 11,000′. As you can see from the above photograph, the trail can be quite steep and rocky, so constant attention was needed to avoid twisting ankles and knees.
One of the most beautiful observations on the trail was the unbelievable ice forms the flowing stream, freezing temperatures and overhanging branches created. We literally stopped about ten times going up the trail to admire these natural works of art. As I mentioned earlier, the trail closely follows the creek. At times the banks were less than a foot away from the trail. In addition, there were 8 water crossings along the way. The crossings range from nicely constructed bridges with rails, downed trees, stepping stones and ice bridges. It made for quite an adventuresome hike.
As we made our way up the trail, we noticed the groups ahead were losing their way, as their footprints in the 2″ snow were often wandering away from the trail. The snowfall made it really difficult to locate the trail at several locations. One group unnecessarily crossed the creek and unfortunately we followed until we noticed their footprints ended at an old campsite. We then went back and re-located the trail and a short ways up encountered a different group who were lost and circling, looking to regain the trail. At this point I remembered I had my son’s GPS which I used to track Tanglewood Trail the last time I climbed it in February of 2013. I turned it on, acquired satellites and bingo, the old trail tracker overlaid the topo and we were back in the game. Within about 200 yards we were back on the trail and once again climbing.
We reached our lunch spot at 11,444′ right at 1 PM. We took in the views below Pegmatite Peaks and were amazed we were so comfortable in November at such an elevation. How lucky to be able to drive just a few miles from home and be in such an incredible environment.
The hike down the trail was a bit difficult on be knees as we slipped and slid on the snow and icy spots along the way. But we made it back in one piece, albeit a bit sore, but with some amazing memories and hopefully a bit more fit.
Hike distance = 7.2 miles, Elevation gain = 2,244′, Time on the trail = 6 hours