Ascent of Huron and La Plata, Colorado on Aug 29, 1999

I left Co Spgs around noon in my '59 Chevy allowing for plenty of time to reach the trailhead, set up a leisurely camp site, and relax with a bottle of wine in anticipation of rising early on Sunday for a full day of climbing.

It couldn't be so easy. About an hour and half into the drive my generator light came on. That means that my battery was no longer being charged and would eventually run out. It was half an hour to Buena Vista, so I continued until I found an auto parts store. Of course they and no other parts store in town had a generator for a '59 Chevy.

After removing the offending item, I took it apart to discover that one of the brushes had disintegrated. The brushes are little pieces of copper that make contact with an armature as it turns from engine flywheel action, thereby "generating" electricity to keep the battery charged. I called back to one of the auto parts stores and no they didn't have the brushes, but their partner store in Salida, 25 miles south did. They would be closing in half an hour though. Not to worry--called the Salida store, charged the $6.39 to a credit card and had them set the brushes outside the store for me to pick up later, called my towing insurance company and had them tow me down to Salida, installed the brushes, charged the battery, and was happily on the road again in time to make it to the trailhead just before dark.
Set up camp at the former mining town of Rockdale, 10 miles up Chaffee County 390, which leaves Hiway 24 westbound 15 miles north of Buena Vista. Yes, I drank that bottle of wine that evening, but still managed to rouse myself at 0500 Sunday, and started hiking/running up the 4-wheel drive road in the direction of Cloyses Lake by 0530.
View from Huron Saddle
Huron Summit
 I summited around 0930, joining a pair of ham radio operators who were making contact with other enthusiasts on various other 14er summits. Many clouds were blowing in and obscuring the view, but the weather didn't look threatening. I headed back down in the direction of Winfield. This trail was much more populated.
Once down in Winfield I turned up the 4-wheel drive road leading west from North Winfield for 1.2 miles, then turned right up the unmarked road for another 300 yards to the La Plata trail. It had been lightly raining for the last half hour.
Ham Radio Operators on Huron
The rain became more persistent as the trail led steeply up through timber beside a rushing creek. Above timberline you come into a large meadow, portions of which are in thick willows and the trail was quite muddy. A returning climber informed me the weather looked pretty socked in up top. Not hearing thunder and ever the optimist I pressed on. The next set of returning climbers reported dense fog and brisk winds and problems staying on course up on the ridge. Hmmm.
Belford and Missouri
View toward Huron
Leaving the broad valley the trail climbs steeply to the SW ridge at 13,200 feet. Just then the rain stopped and I saw blue sky to the west. The black clouds were pushing and gathering to the east and though I heard a couple of distant thunder claps the danger was gone. My next goal was a large rockpile looming in the distance that I assumed was the summit. Not to be. Once atop the rock pile LaPlata was still a discouraging distance away. Plodding along in sunshine and now expansive views I went up and over one more false summit (on the way back I realized the trail goes along the east side) before finally summiting around 3 P.M.
The time from Huron's summit to LaPlata's summit was around 4 and a half hours. It was so nice up there by this time that I relaxed and just enjoyed the view, sharing the last of my beef jerky with Sam the Wolfdog, before descending the way I came, running the final 4 miles of road to reach my car around 5:30 P.M. By this time late Sunday afternoon Winfield was like a "ghost town". No one around but a lone bow hunter I startled on the trail back. La Plata
La Plata under clouds

Total time: 12 hours
Total distance: 21 miles
Elevation gain: 8000 feet

#'s 34 and 35 for me and 32 and 33 for Sam the Wolfdog


Sam in field

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