Stoney Pass

After we climbed Buffalo Peak, Sprocket and I loaded up and headed towards Deckers, Colorado.

FSJ at Stoney Pass

This area was heavily burned in 2002 during the Hayman fire; the largest in Colorado history. Now, over 13 years later, the area has an almost beautiful surrealism.

Hayman Fire

Through the desolation, I had some glimpses back towards Buffalo Peak:

Buffalo Peak from Hayman Fire

I find forest fire to be really fascinating. The Silver Valley of Idaho where I used to live had been heavily burned in the Fire of 1910 (that fire burned huge chunks of Idaho and Montana) and if one watched carefully snags from the fire could still be seen around the area. Driving thorough this area was a really similar experience—while it is really sad that many people lost their homes and it might not be as traditionally beautiful as a lush green forest, it has its beauty.

Hayman Fire

Our next stop was Thunder Butte which is also located in the Hayman burn area.

Buffalo Peak: Jefferson County Highpoint

Sprocket and set off Thursday after school for some more fun in the mountains of Colorado. I selected the county highpoints of Jefferson and Douglas Counties in Pike National Forest. It was a long drive in the dark to get there but we arrived at Stoney Pass (not to be confused with Stony Pass in the San Juans) just before midnight and I happily crawled in the back with Sprocket and fell asleep.

Thursday Jeep

Sprocket had me up fairly early and we started the climb up to Jefferson County’s Buffalo Peak (sometimes known as Freeman Peak). The reports that I had read for this hike on cohp.org and Peakbagger made it sound absolutely horrendous—from what I could tell, I’d signed up for some not-so-fun deadfall laden bushwacking.

Buffalo Peak

The first stretch out of the parking lot wasn’t that bad. I’d used Caltopo to create a proposed line of attack that was direct as possible while still bypassing the miscellaneous knobs and rock outcroppings on the hike and then exported it to Gaia GPS for use in the woods. This worked out really well for me on the ascent; I wasn’t regaining elevation and was taking a pretty direct route to the summit.

Buffalo Peak

The weather was everything I could have hoped for. It was sunny, there were still fall leaves in the trees (although I think they were about a week past peak) and the woods had that delicious fall smell that makes you want to hike then eat cider donuts.

Views northwest from Buffalo Peak

After a bit, I finally got this glimpse of Buffalo Peak. The slope relented for a bit just after I took this photo and then quickly steepened again.

Buffalo Peak

Views from Buffalo Peak

Buffalo Peak

Buffalo Peak

The views continued to improve as we moved higher and the slight breeze that was kicking up felt really good. The view below is looking back to the north-northeast looking at Green Mountain with Stoney Pass between it and the ridge below my vantage point:

Near the summit of Buffalo Peak

image

Finally the rocks of the summit came into view! This actually turned out to be the false summit. If you want to avoid some extra scrambling, you can bypass this to the right (north) and climb the actual summit. Sprocket and I chose to climb the false summit then wander its ridge to a small notch that we descended before reascending to the true summit.

Buffalo Peak

Buffalo Peak

Lost Creek Wilderness

Lost Creek Wilderness

Summit with Sprocket

I don’t think this gets climbed too often…

Summit Register

Benchmark

I got a little lazy on the descent and wasn’t paying too much attention to either the GPS or to my surroundings and found myself going too far to the west. (That creek drainage made for such quick going though!) We wound up wrapping around a small knob and then making more directly for the car.

Fall leaves and Columbia Peakfreaks

All things considered, this wasn’t nearly as terrible as trip reports would have lead me to believe. I think a chunk of that comes from the fact that Colorado bushwacks are rarely as terrible as a normal off-trail outing in the Pacific Northwest. And man, I know I said the colors were a little faded, but I am definitely not complaining about the aspen show on my 27th Colorado county highpoint.

Fall color on Buffalo Peak