Mount Buckskin (13,865′) & Loveland Mountain (13,692′) | Colorado | 08/15/19

Mount Buckskin (13,865′) | CO Rank: 76/637

Loveland Mountain (13,692′) | CO Rank: Unranked

Mosquito Range | Pike National Forest | Alma, CO

08/15/19 | 4.86 miles | 2,420′ gain | Class 2

What to do on a Thursday? Oh yeah, solo summit snaggin’! (Technically, Bob the blue heeler was with me, but I was solo in the human person department.)

I’ve had a slow year when it comes to summits, so if I could snag two for the price of one, I was game. Well we set out from the Kite Lake Trailhead armed only with a gpx file. (Who needs pictures and route descriptions? Oh, me apparently.)

The route is actually really straightforward if you pay attention to what the route description tells you. Watch where everyone else is heading up the DeCaLiBron (group of 4 14ers that you can do in 1 day!) and head in the opposite direction. (This is where your pre-planning will help you! Gpx file, screenshots, take it all!) This is a great trail that ultimately heads to Lake Emma, but you don’t want to go there unless you really like lakes. (But we’re here for peaks, not lakes.)

Looking back to the trailhead from the start of the Lake Emma Trail.

The trail is NOT marked, so you’ll want to know where you’re going beforehand. (Pre-planning!)

Anyways, we followed the trail up for a ways, wondering how we’re going to get through the willows, when I saw a friendly cairn down the way. The cairn said “Come this way! It’s the route!” Cairns mark routes, right?

If you see this, TURN AROUND. (The mountain beyond the willowy hell is Buckskin.)

This cairn’s sole purpose is to lure unsuspecting inexperienced mountain climbers into a slow willowy death. It would have made the most sense to look for an alternate route (or even read the route description BEFORE I LEFT) but of course, we plunged into the willows. Bob is short, so Bob traveled through the willows like a little jungle animal, but I…struggled? I think anger and pure terror at getting sucked into a willowy death were the only things that propelled me to the other side.

The moral of this story is to follow the trail until you’re above the willows, and THEN cut over. Logic! (We returned this way on the way down. Can confirm, much better than willows.)

Bob looks happy to be out of the willows too.
Willow-less view of Bross.

Now that we were done with our unnecessary willow adventure, the next step was to climb up and up and…well, you get it. It was steep grass with the occasional talus band the entire way up Buckskin. I zigged and zagged, trying to avoid the steepest sections, and I stayed on grass where I could. The slope can be broken into three parts, the first being a steep section where you want to head to a specific power pole with 3 legs. (It’s the only one with 3 legs, so you can’t mess it up.)

Buckskin Slopes, Part 1 of 3: Steep section up to 3-legged power pole.
Power pole views of the route so far. Look at all those willows!
Bob is so majestic, but I now reiterate to head for the 3-legged power pole.
Buckskin Slopes, Part 2 of 3: It actually flattens out a little here!

The little flat-ish area after the power pole was greatly appreciated before the final push to the summit.

A beautiful Democrat and you can just see Lake Emma tucked away right of center.
Buckskin Slopes, Part 3 of 3: The final steep section.

I’m not sure exactly how long it took me to climb up this slope, but I think my speed falls into the glacial category.

The views above Democrat’s ridge opening up, the Climax Mine is now visible.
Oh yeah, I’m still climbing. The upper sections were mostly talus but it was all pretty stable.
I went to the left of the snowfield because it looked easier than the right, but going right would be a more direct line to the summit, so you do you.

I was relieved to finally crest the ridge, and the remaining route looked pretty darn easy compared to what I’d already done!

The top of the ridge, looking towards Loveland Mountain, peak 2 for the day!
And this is the route to Buckskin! It’s the little bump just right of center. So close!

Once on the ridge, summiting Buckskin was easy, and we popped on over in no time.

The DeCaLiBron
The Climax Mine
I think this is Mosquito Gulch?
Another view
The little bump on the ridge is apparently Buckskin’s sub-summit. My official gpx file didn’t say to go over there, so I did not.
Looking at the route to Loveland.
Class 2 trail through talus.
Following the trail, almost there!

The descent down to the Buckskin/Loveland saddle was a little steep, but it was short, and the rest of the way was nice and gradual. I can even say I made good time without anyone laughing at me!

Well apparently there are two summit bumps on Loveland too, but again, the first one is the tallest (though barely).

Another little trail heads up the first summit bump.
Looking back at the ridge from Buckskin. So gradual!
Another view of the DeCaLiBron

We didn’t stay long on the summit, we’d already been walking about twice as long as I had anticipated the hike taking and we still needed to get back down. The ridge walk went by quickly, and the descent off the slopes of Buckskin once again took forever. But at least we kept above the willows this time! So the lower portions of the route flew by.

Somehow, we missed the crossing of Buckskin Creek when in the willows, so I did have to jump across the narrowest spot I could find on the descent. I think I was just walking on willow branches 5 feet in the air?

A beautiful Buckskin creek with Mount Buckskin in the back.

The wildflowers alone were worth coming this way, if the willows aren’t enough to deter you!

Rose paintbrush, elephanthead, a few others I’m unsure of. Marshy flowers mean wet feet but it’s better than willows!


9 thoughts on “Mount Buckskin (13,865′) & Loveland Mountain (13,692′) | Colorado | 08/15/19

  1. I had to learn the hard way that not every cairn is to be trusted, Chelsea (one of the reasons we had to tackle Princeton twice), but it’s a good lesson in self-sufficiency.
    Walking along the ridge must have been so much fun.


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