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Sound of Music


Looking back at the Missouri summit

Looking Back at the Summit of Missouri Mountain

A few years back, we were part of a group spending our vacation in Colorado. We camped in the Leadville area and our goal was to climb some of the area 14,000 foot mountains.

After climbing a couple of the mountains, we decided to attempt the Missouri, Oxford, Belford mountain combination. Good trails led to the top of each of the peaks so all we had to do was keep moving, to summit all three mountains.

Camping near the trailhead, we woke early, struck camp, and drove to the parking area. Soon we were following the beams of our headlamps up the trail of the initial wooded slope.

Group dynamics are always difficult with a large group. One person will invariably be off. On this day it was Laura's turn. It seemed as if she was having allergy related issues. The only problem was the allergies were effecting her breathing. She was struggling to keep up with our pace.

Walking with her we talked over various scenarios. She decided to climb a bit further so she could see the mountains and then either hang out and wait in the basin or mosey back to the trailhead and wait at the vehicles.

I was comfortable with that decision. She was a very experienced hiker who also had a head full of common sense. She could safely split off from the group.

Catching up with the others we quickened our pace. During the summer season the mountains receive thunderstorms most afternoons. We wanted to be headed down from Belford, our third and last summit of the day, before the storms arrived. We weren't running, but we knew we had to average over 2 miles an hour to complete the tour by noon.

As we climbed the beautiful Missouri Mountain, we talked about Laura and what she might be doing. None of us wanted to leave her, but we were all confident that she would find something to do to entertain herself.

After a short stay on the summit of Missouri, we started down. At the trail junction, at the base of the slope in Missouri Basin, we had another group meeting. Monica had tweaked her knee and didn't want to chance further injury. Jon, Laura's mate, was also ready to return to the trailhead so that he could check on his "sweetie".

James, Christopher, Amy (my wife), and I continued on the loop. The trail weaved through the upper basin to Elkhead Pass. Leaving the pass we stayed on the Missouri Basin side and contoured up a gentle slope toward Belford. As we neared the top of a shoulder we saw a hiker descending from Belford's summit. The hiker was almost skipping along in a carefree fashion down the grassy slope. I commented to Amy, that it looked like a scene from the Sound of Music. "The hills are alive ..."

Laura descending grassy slope

We continued watching the hiker as we approached. It was none other than our friend, Laura. After the group left her, she no longer had to try and keep up. She took her time and then started up the steep slope of Mount Belford. After what seemed like hundreds of switchbacks on a very loose and rocky trail, she summitted.

We had wondered and even discussed where Laura was and what she was doing as we climbed Missouri and Belford. That she was climbing Belford was not one of our scenarios! It was great that she had such a great climb after such a miserable start. When Laura was alone and walking at her own pace, she was able to climb Belford with relative ease.

Laura continued down the trail and we continued on the loop to the Belford shoulder, then over to Oxford, returning to the shoulder, and finally climbing the summit pitch to the top of Belford. As we descended Belford, we agreed with Laura that it was a steep, loose, and rocky trail.

Finally we were all reunited in the parking are at the trailhead. There were many stories that each small group shared, but none were as fun as Laura's rejuvenated spirit and her solo adventure.

Happy Missouri Basin trails


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