Monday, Monday, Monday
Liberty Cap, Ute Canyon, Bench Route
Those are our three hiking options in Colorado National Monument on Monday. The hyperlinks below link to pages of the gjhikes.com website.
I will be leading Liberty Cap. Phil Maass will be leading Ute Canyon, and the Bench Route is still looking for a leader, if anyone chooses to hike it. I say that because, according to gjhikes.com, the Bench Route hike is the most strenuous of the three…and perhaps the most challenging from a navigational standpoint, because it is an unmaintained trail with no trail markers. Ute Canyon may be the easiest of the three, but all three start out the same way…with a steep 700′ climb in one mile from the Wildwood Trailhead to the first bench. Most of the climb is in the second half-mile. After climbing that bench yesterday, I’m glad to have the day off to rest those quads.
The author’s description of the Bench Trail is a counterclockwise route with a steep 450′ climb in 1/4 mile beginning at the Gold Star Canyon trailhead. We would be going clockwise from Wildwood…if we do it at all. His description of the Otto’s Bathtub hike is from the top down. We will be doing it from the bottom up as an extension of the Liberty Cap hike (photo below).
This is not a walk in the park either. After the initial climb up to the first bench, we will climb another 400′ to Liberty Cap. Otto’s Bathtub is about 3 miles farther with an additional 300′ of gain. Some slick rock scrambling may be required to access the Bathtub.
After the initial climb, Ute Canyon follows a broad sandy wash ~4 miles to the base of a steep 500′ climb out to Rim Rock Drive. You may forgo the final climb and ascend a total of only 1100′ in ~5 miles from Wildwood.
And now…the rest of the story: Meet at West Mall at 7:30. Pick up down valley contingent at Rifle Rest Area at 8:00. Passengers, please tip your drivers $13 (it’s 104 miles to Wildwood from WM). Tailgate refreshments courtesy of A-K. There is limited shade at the trailhead. We may “make do” there, or we can travel a short distance to the Jr. Service League Park, just off Redlands Pkwy. It’s on the Colorado River with a gazebo, picnic tables and a portable-potty. I’ll provide drivers with directions tomorrow.