Peak(s):  Traver Peak  -  13,852 feet
McNamee Peak  -  13,780 feet
Clinton Peak  -  13,857 feet
Wheeler Mountain  -  13,690 feet
Date Posted:  09/22/2022
Date Climbed:   08/31/2022
Author:  petal53run
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 Roundtripping Twice   

Roundtripping Twice

Traver(13852), McNamee(13780), Clinton(13857) and Wheeler(13690) had been on my long day ToClimb list. According to experienced climbers trip reports, 7-8 hours hiking time was predicted. That meant patiently waiting for Colorado to move out of monsoon August. Clear skies with 3% chance of rain was my ticket to go so I was W on I70 with the goal of being at the Wheeler Lake TH by 5am. That didn’t quite happen because construction at Eisenhower usually ends at 5am but not Wednesday August 31. Then at the TH, the key fob battery died so I wrestled opening the casing for ½ hour to put in a new battery. I will stop here with the nuisances. But I did successfully climbed 3-13ers. Going into sunset that day, I went back to climb Wheeler on September 16.

South through Breckinridge, over Hoosier Pass and about a mile down is CR4. Turn a sharp R onto the hard packed dirt 2WD road (Sept pic1 snowy peaks, Lincoln top L) which leads to the NE corner of Montgomery Reservoir (0.8), where the Rhand Y goes uphill, crosses a bridge and ends at Wheeler Lake TH marked by a concrete wall(pic2). The start of the trail was directly to the R of the car(pic3) and both days, I had the entire Clinton Gulch to myself.

After passing under the creaking Magnolia Mill walkway(pic4), the 3.5 mile 4WD road was challenging even by foot. Rocks the size of VWbeetles(pic5) and cobblestones the size of watermelons(pic6) made navigating the roadbed slowgoing. But what’s totally amazing is someone lives up there W of some huge rock blocks. Check out the Bigfoot sign on their property(pic7). The Middle Fork S Platte cuts this valley so mostly every step was in running water and the road was flooded over in several places(pic8). For a hiker and deer(pic9), side paths have been worn around the puddles. Two weeks ago there were mushrooms(pic10) in these areas, now aspen leaves sprinkled the ground(pic11) and frozen plants were crystallized (pic12). I simply followed the rugged road(pic13 snow on peaks) to Wheeler Lake(pic14) and stayed on the obvious trail around the Lside of the lake till it kinda disappeared. Somewhere along there I lost my orange/pecan muffin. Hiking only Wheeler Mt? I suggest accessing it from here. Wondering if I dropped my thinking brain along the way, I remembered the S-N or Traver-Clinton, was a smoother hiking direction (WildWanderer/2018). This corner of the lake was my determinate for both days.

Let me report on Wheeler Mt(pic15with W; NStar is NS) at this point since I’m at the SW corner of Wheeler Lake where the truck chassis rusts away(pic16). This is the optima spot to go forth onto Wheeler the 13er. I stopped to study the directions from trip reports: others have done this. However, that didn’t describe the footing. I was really doubting my abilities and asking if this was a risk worth taking cuz the presenting loose rock face(pic17) looked nasty and not doable from my vantage point. I had already invested a couple hours of walking to get here so whats 30more minutes to make a decision to at least try. Aim to the L of the Z(pic18)(rpb13/2010). All I had to do was walk a few more feet and I found a matted trail to follow. Stay to the R of the first waterfall(pic19) and follow it around the W side of the lake. When the dirt path faded, cairns(pic20) lead the way. This method worked to the upper lake, too, where the path circles to its right(pic21) and goes left of a waterfall. Awesome layered rocks(pic22-23)a surviving alpine aster(pic24). This where the clouds started blowing over and becoming more grey. I kept pushing(pic25). The Class2 trail, faint in some areas, lead to the saddle where the surface smooths out(pic26 looking across to Lincoln). Thanks to the people who built the string of obvious cairns up the mountain to the Class4 chute(pic27-28up&down) to climb Wheelers summit(pic29). I was standing atop the same time some climbers had topped NStar so we waved and cheered to celebrate. The clouds were darker grey and the wind was piercing cold gave me no more time to enjoy the views, so I followed the cairns in reverse (I did not find my muffin) and stayed on the trail to the 4WD road.

Back to August 31. Even doing the beeline route, I ended up hiking extra miles across hill and dale to Traver from Wheeler Lake. Grass(pic30) turned to an alpine meadow(pic31) which became rocky(pic32) as I neared Traver. Was I going the right way? In the middle of going up the rocky field was a cairn(pic33). Then a flower(pic34) and the stone with an inscription(pic35) as mentioned in previous trip reports. Slower and slower, I slowly summited Traver (pic36). Once I got to the traverse(pic37), pacing was fasterer as the ridge was lined with a well established path littered with mining remains(pic38), views of Climax mine operations and paid homage to shrinking Barlett Mt(pic39). Mining trash summit(pic40), lost my grease pencil on McNamee summit(pic41), and while sitting atop Clinton summit(pic42), watched the sun lower. There was no time to climb Wheeler or return to Wheeler Lake.

Time to take a bearing. I could see the 4WD road. According to my topo map, the shortest distance between 2points was due E of the meadow. I walked a doable route SE down to the basin of grass again, passed a collapsed cabin(pic43), headed E, found a billy goat path zigzagging through a small rock outcropping(pic44-45) and connected with the first N turn of the 4WD road(pic46). I was back to the car before suppertime. Backing up to September 16. After I started walking on the road toward the car, while I was putting on my gloves to stay warm, it snowed for about a mile(pic47 leaving snow behind). I met a couple brave hunters dressed in Tshirts&shorts going W asking if I had seen any deer. I told them, not today, but 2 weeks ago I did. Another mile later, I talked with a couple guys in a Jeep driving up to the lake. During the last mile, I was covered by a clear blue sky.

I wandered around the Magnolia Mill (pic48-49). Originally, the mill was built in 1860 but burnt down and was replaced with this structure in 1930 to continue to process ore for silver and gold(50-51). It’s the only surviving structure of the Town of Montgomery, once a bustling town of 1000 residents. In 1890 Colorado Springs bought this property, built the damn in 1954 to create Montgomery reservoir as their water source which flooded everything except the Mill on the hill.

In sum, this ALL day hike is a great opportunity to bag 4-13ers in one outing. Wheeler is a Tenmile Range Mountain and Traver, McNamee (latter 2unranked) & Clinton stand in the Mosquito Range. Not counting the gnarly 4WD 3.5mile hike adventure, 90% of the climb is ranked Class2. The Class3 adds to the achievement. It’s a simple out&back course, easy routefinding, and exciting ridge walk/tour of CO mining history and in depth look of Climax mine operations. Although I divided this gulch climb into 2-7hour days, Im OK with that, the standard Wheeler Loop ended up being easier that I thought. Follow the string of cairns and Wheeler Mt becomes a Class2 hike. Its ridge and summit Class3 rating does make the heart pound but it’s a doable and satisfying technical climb. Having climbed everything surrounding me, the views of the valley continue to be awe-inspiring.




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
conorpowderhunter
Nice!
10/03/2022 23:18
That road is truly gnarly! I still laugh as a few weeks ago I was googling if my 1/2 ton chevy with a truck camper + 400lbs of crap would be able to it up to wheeler lake



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