Dauntless Mine | Pike National Forest
Fairplay, CO | 01/31/21 | 6.90 miles | 1,398′ gain
Okay, okay. The Dauntless Mine isn’t really a destination, it’s more a pile of rubble. And it certainly wasn’t our chosen destination, that was 14er Mount Sherman. Sherman is a good 14er to do in the winter, relatively safe if you’re careful to follow the winter route. The only downside is 4 Mile Creek Road isn’t maintained so you have to start 3 miles below the summer trailhead, turning a 5 mile summer hike into an 11 mile winter hike.
Allie’s parents had just moved to Fairplay and we were excited to spend a weekend up there with them. We helped them move some of the heavier items on Saturday, but Sunday was our fun day. Their house is super close to the Mosquito Range and so we were able to sleep in (at least compared to if we had slept at home!). We parked at the winter trailhead and were walking by 8am.
8am felt like a late start but the sun hadn’t hit the road yet and it was COLD. The snow was frozen and supportive, and the walking was as easy as we could have hoped for.
About the time we reached the summer trailhead, Allie told me she didn’t think her legs were going to make it today. It was just one of those days, we all unfortunately have them. Since I’d already been up Sherman a handful of times, I wasn’t upset at all. We decided to continue to the Dauntless Mine, just above the upper trailhead, and explore around there more than we had before.
Since we had time, and there just isn’t much to see around the Dauntless Mine, we decided to visit the little cabin in the valley. Neither of us had ever stopped there before so at least we’d have something new to see on this trip.
The cabin was definitely worth a stop. Whoever lived there had some incredible views! Now that the sun was out and warming up the snow, the road was a slushy mess and our descent was wet and frustrating. Oh well, it was still worth it!
Heading back out to the highway, we saw an animal run across the road. At first we thought coyote, but it was a cat. Bobcat? But something didn’t look right. It’d disappeared into the brush before we could get a picture, but its image and gait were ingrained in our memories. We spent hours researching the difference between bobcat and lynx (both of which exist in Colorado but lynx are extremely rare). The size, lack of spots, and gait all point toward lynx, which would just be the icing on the cake, and a good reason to have skipped stinky old Sherman after all.