We debated whether or not we would run this trail. On one hand, it was 2:30 and we had a drive back to Denver to do yet. On the other hand, it was only 2:30 and Denver was only a couple of hours away. After a short discussion, we voted to run yet another trail so we headed back to Leadville to do Mount Zion.
The trailhead was easy to find, and when we got there we found a fire truck, an ambulance, and a police vehicle there. The ambulance was just leaving, sirens screaming. Then the fire truck and police vehicle also left. They were talking to some people on dirt bikes and they seemed happy, so hopefully it was good news.
Finding the gate was a little difficult but we ended up finding it quickly. Two dirt bikes passed us with three riders, and we wondered if they were going to recover another dirt bike. We followed their tracks for the whole trail but never saw them again.
The climb through the switchbacks in the trees was fairly mellow. Then we got to the big hill. We had seen the microwave reflector earlier, and it looked like that's where we were headed.
The hill was steep, long, and filled with loose rocks and dirt. Most of us tried it in high gear, but ended up having to switch to 4-Low at some point. Walt had to disconnect his front differential because of some earlier problems, and he found that he couldn't get up the hill with only 2-Low. Don had to go back down the hill and drag Walt up it with a tow strap. That was a big hill!
The views from the top of it were amazing, though. We could see Turquoise Lake and all of the mountains behind it. It looked like it was cloudy and rainy down there, but our weather was good.
We kept climbing, but the hills weren't nearly as steep or long. When we got to the top of Mount Zion, we all got out to explore. The views from here were also awe inspiring, and we all took lots of pictures. It was pretty chilly at that altitude, too.
After Mount Zion, the trail went across the tundra. It's so "Colorado" to be on a trail like that, much like Kingston Peak or above Radical Hill. There was so much to see.
We worked our way up to another hill that had a bit of snow across it. It looked like a few dirt bikes and ATVs had gone around it, but we were able to break through it and stay on the trail. It was on a hill, though, and Walt couldn't make it without a tug from Don.
We could finally see our destination on the side of Buckeye Peak, and it looked like the trail just went off the side. We got to the top and found a small turnaround, and we got out to check out the scenery.
It was 50 degrees as we looked around, and windy at the top of a mountain. We could see people fishing in Buckeye Lake below us, and we could see the Buckeye Gulch trail that leads to it. We'll definitely have to explore that one soon.
We worked our way back out, and the temperatures didn't increase. We drove into the rain that we had seen, and when we got to the trailhead it was raining. We discussed dinner, and decided to air up and then go back to Leadville for yet another dinner at Quincy's, our new favorite steak place. We all got the big steaks and took home leftovers. We were headed for home before the sun went down, and it didn't even take us two hours to get home.
This trail is definitely one we'll do again. Wow!