Buffalo Mountain is the hulk you see straight ahead when you exit the Eisenhower Tunnel heading west, and start descending towards Silverthorne and Frisco, CO. It's kind of like a big gumdrop with avalanche paths scraped down the sides.
I had been wanting to run something around the Frisco/Gore Range area for a while, and this was the first since Mount Royal a couple of years ago. I had some time left in the afternoon after getting out of Dodge and up to Breck for the Memorial Day weekend, so I just picked a trailhead and did an out and back.
I actually thought I was running up towards Red Buffalo Pass but I must have missed a turn and ended up running towards the summit of Buffalo Mountain. Heh.
I really don't care much where I'm going, as long as I'm having fun.
This trail starts out moderately, but gets steeper and steeper. It's lodgepole pine forest at first, and this year there are a lot of downed trees. Must have been a windy winter, and with pine beetles doing their thing, trees are uprooting left and right. I was looking over my shoulder every time I heard the creaking of a tree in the wind.
Twisted beetle kill trees and Silverthorne in the valley:
Life can be tough for trees in the mountains. This is at treeline:
I lost the trail at this point, and ended up going straight up the mountain. Clambering over snow, boulders, by hand and foot. I don't know how far it was, but it was a while.
Straight ahead is the Tenmile Range. It seemed as if I was higher, but I'm actually about 800 feet lower:
After a lot of steep boulders, the slope eases and there's some rocky singletrack that heads over to the left/south towards a snowy valley. There looked to be some skiable terrain up there. The summit is somewhere in the middle-ish.
The top was not that far, but there was a lot of snow between me and the summit, weather was coming, and the wind was like a freaking freight train. I couldn't even hold my camera still without a gust moving it. It felt very odd to be running up there in shorts in the howling wind. Good thing it was not freezing cold.
I decided it was time to turn around. I got to 12,170 feet according to the Star Trek watch.
I managed some 14er-style downhill running (tentative, steep and rocky), which was fun. When I got near treeline and hit the snow again, I tried skiing in my shoes down the firmer parts, but a couple of times my leg punched through, and thankfully I didn't snag a hidden boulder. Here I am hoping my feet don't drop through the crust:
Looking back up at the snow I had to cover, and the steep rocky ridge I climbed:
My shoes had snow in them at this point, my heels were numb, and after I was safely past the snow in the woods I stopped to clear them. I need some gaiters for this.
There were quite a few downed trees:
This was the start of runnable trail, but it never really eased up, with plenty of rocks and roots. Still pretty fun, and I got a better outing than I thought I would, with a near-summit. Some day I'll head up here when it's dry. I had about 0.5 mile and 600 feet to go.
Distance was 5.04 miles, time 2:45 (moving 1:40), elevation gain/loss 2,398 feet.
Steep. And pretty arduous, with the slope, downed trees and snow. But fun.