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There is a stream and an avalanche chute near 10,800ft, about mile 1.1. Cross a crude bridge made of plenty of large, fallen trees and continue to rise. Colorado Fourteeners Initiative has done extensive work on this area including restoring the trail, installing steps, and mitigating erosion. Thank them if you see them!
There are remains of an old cabin near 11,000ft. Not long after this the trail forks. Ultimately, this is a loop. To get directly to Missouri, take the fork on the right. You’ll enter a talus field and a steep few switchbacks. Just beneath the crest of the ridge the trail tends to hold snow for much of the season. There is typically a bootpacked trench for this 100ft or so.
The ridge itself is about .7 miles long and of of the longest runnable sections of trail over 14,000ft that we know of. The trail has a gentle upward slope and is quite buffered most of the way to the peak. Return back the way you came. Note that immediately beyond the summit, the terrain becomes subject to cliffs and loose rock.
Climbing your first mountain or 14er is an exciting and rewarding experience! You’ll get the achievement of seeing the world from above and the feel-goods of the endorphins from the exercise. However, the mountains aren’t a walk in the park, and getting down is mandatory. Some situations require extra caution and a little know how. With a bit of preparation, you’ll be able to get to the summit and back safely.
Whether you are training for a race or simply indulging in all the wilderness has to offer, there are a variety of factors, some constant, and some changing, that are likely to have an impact on your journey. Knowing these factors can help ensure your safety and get you back to the trailhead safely.