Peak(s):  Huron Peak  -  14,006 feet
Date Posted:  09/07/2021
Modified:  12/10/2021
Date Climbed:   09/07/2021
Author:  malsillars
 80th birthday climb   

Over the last 25 years I have climbed summits and hiked trials. For the last few years, I have mainly cleared and maintained trails as a USFS volunteer with Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers. With my 80th birthday looming, I decided to summit one of our 14ers as a celebration...or mainly to make sure I could still do it. It had been 10 years since I did a summit. I got a friend to accompany me...he had not climbed Huron Peak, so that is what I chose.

This would be my fourth trip. On June 22, 2001, my wife and I climbed nearly to the top. She found that final quarter mile a bit uncomfortable, so we bailed not too far from the top. I went back on July 15 and finished solo. On August 30, 2011, I took a hiking friend up and we had an enjoyable time. The views from Huron are always great and the Apostles always show me why I never climbed them.

On September 7, 2021, a week before my 80th, we set out. The morning was cool, but it was going to be a blue-sky day. The initial part of the trail is much improved over what it used to be. Switchbacks a bit longer and the trail faster. The climb to the breakout at the meadow was right on schedule. After a break, we crossed the meadow with not much company. After the meadow, we started up the switchbacks at the east end of the basin. As we went along, my pace slowed, and I noticed that the workload was getting greater...but I was still passing hikers from sea-level states. Actually, that climb is really very impressive and the elevation increases fairly rapidly as the trail climbs along the west-looking face. I enjoyed looking north at the traverse coming across from Browns Peak, an area I had climbed years before. As we had the summit in sight, my pace slowed even more and I began stopping quite often for a breath and a quick rest. I signaled my partner to go ahead and summit. He had led just about all the way...he was only 63! I joined him after about 15 or 20 minutes.

There were only a handful of hikers on the summit and my companion had found a place to rest and recover over the top and down a bit. We surveyed all that was around and below us, carefully picking out the peaks and trails that we had visited over the years. With a bit less than an hour on the summit we headed on down.

We picked our way down the rubble-filled trail that leaves the summit. Slow going there, with roller rocks for each step. As we got down to the lower set of switchbacks, the pace picked up. We took a quick break halfway across the meadow and the trail from there to the parking lot went quickly.

It had been a good day and I was not overly exhausted. GPS said 7 miles RT in 7 hours with 3336 vertical feet. With all my hiking, I was used to 3000-foot and 7-mile days...but 14ers are always different and matter how many you have done. Afterall, they are 14ers.

It had been a blue-sky day, light wind and comfy temperatures...a perfect summit day. Guess I'll do another one for my 81st.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
I want to
12/12/2021 21:04
Be like you
When I grow up.
64yo fan of old timers

Me too!
08/05/2022 16:22
What an accomplishment! What an inspiration! Hope I can equal that feat someday!

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