Horseshoe Mountain (13,898′) | CO Rank: 72/637
Peerless Mountain (13,348′) | CO Rank: Unranked
Mosquito Range | Pike National Forest | Fairplay, CO
07/14/19 | 6.93 miles | 2,313′ gain | Class 1
After posting my Gray Wolf Mountain trip report on 14ers.com (I copied and pasted my blog post there), I received an email from Allie, a girl I’d spoken to in passing on that hike. She’d recognized Otis from my pictures and thought maybe I’d like to hike 13ers with her sometime. My answer was a very enthusiastic “YES!” and after two weeks, we were able to plan our first 13er together.
We threw a few ideas around but ultimately settled on Horseshoe Mountain. Horseshoe is a Centennial Peak, meaning it’s one of the 100 highest peaks in Colorado. While not my first Centennial (I’ve done 10 14ers), it was my first Centennial 13er, so exciting nonetheless!
My alarm came too early as it always does. 2:30 am, really!? But I was meeting Allie in Denver at 4:00 so we could be on the trail around 6:00. There was (as there always is in monsoon season) a chance of storms around noon, so we needed to give ourselves plenty of time to finish safely.
We made our introductions just after 4:00 and promptly hit the road. We had almost an entire day to get to know each other, so fingers crossed we would get along! After a two hour drive, we turned onto Silver Horseshoe Drive, which ultimately turns into an old mining road. We had taken Allie’s Jeep, so we decided to drive up the road as far as we could to cut our hike a little shorter. We hit snow about a 1/2 mile up and parked at a nice pull-off. The standard route continues along the mining road all the way up to the Horseshoe/Peerless saddle (just right of the below picture).
The main road was mostly snow free. We trekked through some snowfields and went around others. The maze of mining roads made finding a dry route pretty easy.
The road walk made for a wonderfully gradual climb up to the saddle. We stopped often to admire the abundance of wildflowers or check out some mine ruins.
The views opened up as we climbed and the dogs were being very photogenic for us as well!
The only unavoidable snowfield was right below the Horseshoe-Peerless saddle. We aimed for the narrowest section and as we got closer, we could see a boot track through it. It was much easier than expected to cross the snow, not really steep at all!
Once we reached the top of the saddle, we could see much of our remaining route.
Now we were on an actual trail and no longer on a road. It was still easy to follow and we made surprisingly quick work of this section.
The summit ridge of Horseshoe was very long and flat. We walked along it until we reached the large summit cairn. But our true destination was an old cabin that we’d heard of, now we just needed to find it! As we walked, it eventually came into view.
The interior of the cabin was full of snow, FEET of snow, so we sat outside for our summit snack. On the way back, we stopped at the true summit for our summit photos.
Allie’s dog Harper decided she should be in Otis & my summit photos. She’s so cute I couldn’t say no! We followed the same trail back down to the Horseshoe-Peerless saddle, and somewhere along the way I broke the news to Allie that I wanted to snag Peerless too. (I mean it’s just RIGHT THERE!) She doesn’t care much for unranked peaks but who am I to judge how tall a peak is? I like them all! Once we got to the “top”, I couldn’t tell which bump was the tallest so I stood on both. (Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.)
On the first bump, the second bump looked higher. On the second bump, the first bump looked higher! Which one is the highest? We may never know! (Peerless is just so difficult!) Well regardless, we topped out on Peerless and then hiked back down to the saddle, through the snow field, and followed the mine roads back down to the Jeep. We tried to follow our ascent route on the mine roads but forgot to pay attention and ended up descending a different way. You remember I’d mentioned earlier about the mine road maze? They all eventually connect in one way or another so we just kept heading in the general direction of the Jeep and wouldn’t you know it, we were dumped out right where we started. The weather held out for us all morning and it was just starting to sprinkle as we reached the Jeep. A safe and successful summit day!
While we had much success on our hike, our quest for a delicious post-hike lunch was much less successful. Allie mentioned a drive-thru burger place that sounded good but they’d shut the grill down right as we pulled up (umm rude!?) so we fought traffic to get to the next Subway, where we realized we couldn’t turn in from the eastbound side. Excuse me, we’re starving to death here! Allie flipped a u-turn at the next intersection and we quite literally sped to get our much deserved sandwiches.
Finally fed (but still tired) we made the long drive home. I can’t wait until we can get together again!