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Mt. Toll

Indian Peaks are certainly my favorite area in the Colorado Rockies. And I am not alone. Because of their proximity to the Denver metro area, they see a lot of traffic, especially in summer. But if you come in the off-season, you will be able to find some solitude, more so if you venture a little bit farther from the trailheads and closer to the Continental Divide. In winter, however, high winds and bitter cold are the norm, so you better come prepared for the conditions.

The photos below were taken during an early winter hike. Our plan was to hike in, spend the night at Blue Lake, and climb Paiute Peak the next morning. Paiute Peak, at 13,088 ft, is a somewhat indistinct peak to the right of the pyramid of Mt Toll, 12,979ft . I still have fond memories of Mt. Toll as we were hit by an early winter storm just as we started descending a couple of years back.

As the road to Brainard Lake is closed in winter, we had extra three miles to the Mitchell Lake trailhead, and another two to three, to Blue Lake. The weather was great and my new backpack felt quite comfortable, so it did not seem like along time before we got to Blue Lake. It got pretty chilly the minute the sun set behind the horizon, so we soon retired into our sleeping bags. So far everything went according to the plan. Well, until about midnight, when it started getting windy. I got out of the tent to secure it better. Everything was OK, but I spent a restless night as the wind and the blowing snow kept pummeling the tent.

I got up well before the sunrise, hoping for the clouds to break. The sky did not really look promising, but way out to the east I could see an opening in the clouds. As it turned out, it was just enough for the sun to peak through to give me a spectacular light show the memories of which will last a life time. The light was changing fast, my photographic efforts were being hampered by the high wind and the blowing snow, but I still managed to get a few exposures. Shortly after the sunrise, the sun hid behind the clouds and it was over. Because of the wind, we decided to turn our backs on the mountains that day and headed back.


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Pre-dawn Mt. Toll Eastern horizon Eastern horizon II Mt. Toll Mt. Toll Mt. Toll
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Mt. Toll Mt. Toll Mt. Toll Packing it up Pawnee Peak East Ridge

Last updated: March 18, 2002
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