14er checklist continues… Mt. Princeton

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

– Jawaharlal Nehru

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A couple weeks ago my husband and I drove up to the Buena Vista area to take on our 18th fourteener and it would be our dog Boulder’s 5th one.  We drove up the night before and as you approach the designated parking lot for the mountain there is a 4WD one way mining road you can take up further.  We drove about 3 miles up it til we passed some radio towers and then found a camping spot to spend the evening at.  It was kind of a sketchy road so if you don’t have good clearance on your vehicle, I would NOT recommend driving up it.  We started our hike the next morning at about 5:30 a.m. flashlights and headlamps on and ready to roll.  The hike starts on a miners road at about 11,000 feet.  You follow the road as it winds up the mountain side.  This is a nice easy climb.  At about 11,800 feet you need to keep your eye out for a trail on the right that starts with some stairs and is marked with carnes.  You don’t want to miss this because the road does continue up to the left, but then will take you around the backside of a different mountain and we saw a few people get lost due to that.

Once you hop on the trail you continue up the ridge and will start hiking on the north side of Tigger Peak where you can see Mt. Princeton up to the right.  Soon the trail will turn into a rocky mess.  Traverse through the rocks and continue along the west ridge.  Near 12,600 feet you will see the trail turn left and have a steep climb of switchbacks leading up the Tigger-Princeton connecting ridge.  Make sure to follow this because there is an old trail that continues down the rocky ridge that is way harder to traverse.  Follow the saddle ridge line to the right and at  13,600 feet the climb gets pretty steep.  Try to stay more to the left because we found on the way down this to be a much easier route with not as much scree (loose rocks).  There are piles of carnes to help you find your way, but can be tricky to spot as you’re going up and down this section.  We had some clouds rolling in when we got to this section and hesitated about continuing, but then a guy coming down said they were heading the other direction and we were good to go.  We made it to the top at about 9 a.m.  We sat up there for a minute and had a granola bar, took a few pics, and then started down due to the wind. Going down was definitely slow from the top.  But in the end we made it back to the car around 12:30 p.m. and the GPS said we had hiked 7 miles.  It really wasn’t a bad hike at all, but this is one of the rockier fourteeners that we’ve done for sure.

Along the way we also saw a family hiking up with no water!  I know it wasn’t a super long hike, but come on people, make sure you’re always prepared.  Between my husband and myself we had more than 5 liters of water on us and we drank pretty much it all.  Another key item to have for hiking fourteeners is ibuprofen.  We always take a couple before we start.  Help me personally so I don’t get too many headaches as we go up in altitude.   Overall, great hike and highly recommend Mt. Princeton as a good 14er to do.  Not too difficult and as always GREAT VIEWS!

Mt. Princeton – East Slope Route
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,200 feet

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