A few days ago, Matt and I were planning on doing a big run somewhere, so we got the map out to see what looked interesting and my eyes went straight to Mt. of the Holy Cross. I always see it on the map and it seems to tempt me every time. Well, this time it won. A friend of ours suggested the Halo Ridge instead of the standard route so we figured we’d give it a shot.
We decided to take it easy on Monday, run some errands and then head up to the trailhead around 5pm. The road to the trailhead is decent, but long and bumpy. It took almost an hour to drive 8 miles in Matt’s outback. We set up camp at the Half Moon Campground at the top and as soon as we exited the car, were swarmed by mosquitoes. We applied loads of bug spray and lit a big fire and they seemed to leave us alone. We made dinner and went to bed early.
We woke up just after 3am and made breakfast before the long day. Our goal was to start at 4:15 but it ended up being around 4:50am when we hit the Fall Creek Trailhead. We ran a little bit with our headlamps through the more flat part of the trail to try and make up some time. There was one creek crossing where we had to get creative but we both made it across without getting wet.
The sunrise was breathtaking and we stopped to look at it at any clearing we came to. Soon after sunrise the real ascent began with way too many switchbacks to count. We broke from tree line and as soon as we were in a big grassy meadow we heard a pack of coyotes up above us howling and I was a little frightened. We put Shea on the leash just in case and never saw any coyotes, but plenty of marmots!
We reached the top of the saddle where there is a really awesome lightning shelter that looks like it belongs in Scotland or something, and a beautiful view of the Holy Cross and the Halo Ridge. I knew we were in for a long next few hours on the ridge. There is no trail, just a lot of scrambling and route finding.
We worked our way around the ridge slowly, and I was extremely relieved when we reached the top of the highest point before the saddle to Holy Cross. The hiking was more like climbing over big rocks and avoiding all of the spider nests. But we made it and the weather still looked great.
The top of Holy Cross is beautiful. We could see the Ten Mile Range and Grays and Torreys to the east, the Gore Range to the north, Maroon Bells and Snowmass to the west and the Sawatch to the south. We ate some sandwiches at the top and the headed back down the standard route to the car.
The descent was steep down the ridge, and then hot once we were back under treeline. The climb on the way out up Half Moon Pass was brutal for me for some reason. I think I was hot, tired and hungry but I ate a Honey Stinger Gel and pressed on. Soon we were back at the car, with cold coconut waters and chips and salsa.
It was a beautiful day and I’m so glad we decided to hike a 14er. It was my third 14er of many to come!