An unusual warm spell came through this week and the Wildboy and I headed out to what I expect may be our last mountain this year. We'll likely have to dig out the snowshoes after this. Noting the amount of snow further in, we stuck to the front range and drove up to Elbow Falls to tackle the very popular Prairie Mountain, a good shoulder season hike. Even mid week there were lots of cars parked by the road and we encountered other folks throughout the day. Most of them were carrying micro-spikes but it was warm enough they weren't needed. After a good freeze it will be another story on what was, for us, a wet trail. Scratches on the rocks indicate spikes are employed a lot.
Views opened up as we got higher and the upper portions of the trail in the trees had a fair amount of packed snow. There were always braided paths around on the dirt. The trail is quite steep and we worked up a sweat. When the trees faded and the wide, easy angled ridge opened up, a heavy wind led us to put on more layers. The broad summit plateau is an exceptional viewpoint, with miles and miles of foothills and peaks to the north and west and miles and miles of foothills and prairie to the south and east. The summit flag was in pretty good shape and I suspect it's been renewed recently.
Bundled up, we had some snacks and inspected the vista. Nihahi Ridge, Banded Peak, Romulus and Remus were obvious but I regretted not bringing a map to help identify others, particularly peaks further north.
Back over my shoulder, the Moose Mountain lookout could be seen.
With the wind howling we didn't linger. Back in the trees and lower down, we were able to doff layers. Descending the packed snow on steep slopes required more care. Even in mid afternoon there were other folks headed up, some wearing shorts and t-shirt. Lots of dogs kept the critters at bay. Much toe jamming led to the usual aches and pains but for tagging an unexpected November bump, a good day was had.