Out of Leadville we headed to Mt. Elbert. We got to the trailhead and started hiking around 9:00 — 9:30, which was again kind of late compared to when we should have been getting started. We should have been on the trail right around sunrise, which I think was about 7:00.
We started up the trail only to realize about half an hour in, when the trail started to dwindle, that we had missed a turn at the Continental Divide and had to turn back. Turns out, we didn’t read the trail description carefully enough, or this would have been obvious to us when we crossed that trail. So, we turned around, rediscovered our way and continued, except now we had an effective start time of around 10:00.
It took a good while longer to clear the tree line heading up Elbert as compared to Mt. Ida, and it was a quite a bit steeper as well for the most part. We stopped just before the end of the tree line for lunch and caught a few pictures of our bird friend, who I think we decided was a nuthatch. This was also time to put on the wind breaker prior to continuing out of the protection of the trees.
Mt. Elbert stayed about as steep after the tree line as it was before. Lots of rocky switchbacks going up a ridge toward the top. We hiked this for probably two hours until we saw several people coming back down. Upon talking to a couple of them, we discovered that it was about 1.5 to 2 hours to the top and that it did turn to a snow / ice scramble for at least a while. We ended up stopping at a relative flat and realizing that we did not have enough time to continue two more hours up at still leave ourselves 50% of the ascent time for the descent. After this realization, we took a break for about an hour, took some picture and headed back down toward the trailhead.
So, Day 3 didn’t fare much better than Day 2. We basically failed to get up early enough and be careful / disciplined enough in our ascent to leave enough time to do what we wanted to do.
We headed out, back through Leadville and toward Utah. On the way to Utah is Grand Junction, CO and while debatable in its independent value as a destination, made a good stopping point to break up the drive, so we stayed at the Mesa Inn that night.