I took off from Colorado Springs around 9 AM on Friday, October 9th, 1998 headed for the San Juan Mountains--my first trip to this range. Driving Hiway 50 through Canon City and then over Monarch Pass I made it to Gunnison around 1 PM. The drive from Gunnison down to Lake City is gorgeous. Wide open country with occasional hoodoo formations. Just south of the attractive town of Lake City I turned to the right on Forest Road 30--At right is Lake San Cristobal from the 30 road.
Lake San Cristobal
Grizzly Gulch
The road climbs steeply, but is okay for non-4-wheel drive vehicles--at least up to Grizzly Gulch where I made my camp. Hunting season started Oct 10th, so I was just a bit leery. Luckily hunters are usually lazy and don't venture very far from their vehicles. I saw plenty of hunters on the roads, but only a grand total of three in the backcountry--and even they were all within a mile of the road.

I quickly set up camp and then struck out for Handies Peak around 4 PM, running most of the way, hoping to make it up and back before dark. I made it up to the final summit ridge by 5 PM, but was way too far north to realistically make it, so I turned back.  Cooked myself a big spaghetti feast and watched the stars until it got too cold and I turned in for the night.

When I left on this trip I had ambitions to climb as many as seven 14ers in three days, but with the snow still remaining from a storm 2 weeks before, the going was more tedious than I had counted on. I normally take the guide book's estimate for time required to summit and divide it in half for the time it would take me. Today Handies would take me the entire five hours estimated by the guide book. I postholed up the snow field directly below the summit, angling right up to the ridge. Once on the ridge the wind was fierce and cold.
Handies from basin
Handies Summit
I reached the summit by 830 AM, greeted by a temperature of 20F and winds of 25 MPH. I didn't spend a lot of time on the summit.

I was back to Grizzly Gulch by 1030 AM, where I made some lunch and relaxed in the warming sun for a couple hours. Then I struck off on the opposite side of road 30 for the fourteeners, Redcloud and Sunshine.

View from Handies Summit (Compaghre on right and Wetterhorn on left)

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