I reached Guanella Pass around noon on August 22nd, 1998. Not a very propitious time to start climbing a fourteener. With no signs of thunderstorms, however, I intrepidly set out towards the summit of Bierstadt--the rounded dome to the right--Evans is the small hump to the far left and left of Sawtooth Ridge.
The trail to the summit of Bierstadt begins in a tangle of willows--difficult to follow, particularly if you want to avoid tromping through mud.
the willow morass, the well-defined trail climbs steeply to the final ridge
leading to the summit. I ran and quickhiked past streams of climbers--at
this late hour mostly returning from the top.
An hour and fifteen minutes after leaving my car I was on the summit.
|Looking towards Evans, the normal route of traversing Sawtooth Ridge didn't look too promising--I was worried about Sam, the wolfdog on the loose exposed rock.||
|Although it turned out
to be quite a distance trek, I opted to descend all the way into the basin
to the west of the peaks and then gain the Evans ridge.
We ran down a huge meadow towards the drainage. At one point I lost Sam and looking down into the basin saw a coyote waaaay down there--yipping his short barks followed by a brief howl. At first I thought it might be Sam!
Eventually we were down in the vicinity of the coyote, but he was long gone by then.
the ridge, it is quite a distance to Evans. Along the way were quite a few
goats. Sam was curious, but didn't harass them.
Clouds began to gather ominously as the afternoon progressed.
|Sam tried to "herd" these
mountain goats, but wisely gave up his pursuit after pushing them to the
edge of a cliff where they faced off.
He is just barely visible to the right of the goats, marked by his white tail.
|A road leads to within
200 feet of Evans' summit, so the final approach was crowded. Lightening
was visible on surrounding peaks, and when I stood on the summit my hair
stood on end and I felt a distinctive tingle throughout my body! The air
Not a place to hang around for long, I quickly began the long descent back.
Two miles or so of boulder
hopping brought us to the northern edge of the basin. Rather than immediately
drop into the basin, I stayed high on the ridge, aiming for a pond just to the
west and slightly higher than the basin. This turned out to be a good move.
After reaching the pond, I circled around to the opposite side, finding a trail
that would ultimately lead all the way to the road just north of the trail to
Bierstadt. This trail also went through willows, but was not nearly as muddy
or as difficult to follow as the trail up Bierstadt.
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