Friday, May 20, 2016

Shrine Mountain East

Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 11,100 ft - 11,888 ft
Elevation Gain: 788 ft (net), 1,135 ft (cumulative)
Dogs: Off leash
Bathroom at the Trailhead: Yes
Date Hiked: 16 June 2012
Tags: #coloradooutdoors, #vail, #travel, #hiking, #tundra, #wildflowers
Nearby Trails: Shrine Mountain, Wilder Gulch, Ptarmigan Pass

A hiker lounges on Shrine Ridge.  Just another ghastly day in paradise!
Shrine Mountain near Vail, Colorado is perhaps one of the most scenic hikes in the whole state. This area has eye-popping views of two mountain ranges plus carpets of wildflowers in late summer. Shrine Mountain exist on a long east/west ridge. To the west is Shrine Mountain proper. This post covers a hike to the east.

Mt. Holy Cross from the saddle
Looking at our destination,  the green hill in the distance,  from the saddle.  You can't quite tell from this picture, but there are two approaches.  This trail will lead you along the right hand side of the ridge.  On the return, we came back over the middle.  Both are nice. 
Part of the route passes by crumbling rocks 
Green meadows and blue skies...how miserable! 
Alpine Sunflowers
I won't repeat my earlier discussion on how to get to the trailhead or how to get the ridge.  Please review my previous post on Shrine Mountain for those details and return here.

Destination in sight
Looking east from a perch on the ridge
Large cairn on the summit ridge
Looking at the trail as it continues on to Wilder Gulch
Once you cross the snowfield and reach the ridge, you can go right to Shrine Mountain and "Aircraft Carrier Rock" or go left and up along the ridge itself.  This latter route is all in the tundra and the views just keep getting better.  If you are a flatlander,  you should be able to do this hike unless your idea of fitness is a vigorous game of bingo.  Just remember that breathing is not optional.  Stop and suck wind  as required.  

Chipmunk
Heading back along an upper route which will take us to that small promitory
Interesting rock formations and stunted Sub-alpine Firs 
Heading back to the saddle
So what do you do when you reach the apex of the ridge?  Well, you can continue on until the intersection with Wilder Gulch and make day of it or like me you can lounge about thinking of all the poor slobs in the world who have had to pay big bucks to travel to Colorado.

Looking at Shrine Mountain.  If the weather is nice, don't hesitate to head in that direction.  It will only add a mile to your trip. 

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