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Under Dark Skies: El Diente, Mount Wilson & Wilson Peak: Approach

July 28, 2009

Index | *Approach* | El Diente's North Buttress | Traverse to Mount Wilson | The Descent | Wilson Peak

El Diente (14,159'), Mount Wilson (14,250'), Wilson Peak (14,017')
Total round-trip distance: 23 miles
Total elevation gain: 8,500 feet

The Wilsons seem to have it out for me. Three years ago, when my time living in Colorado was coming to an end, I had a backpacking trip planned to climb Wilson Peak and neighboring mountains, but a nasty monsoon canceled that trip. Today I checked out of my hotel in Delta and proceeded to drive all the way to Silverton and west on a dirt road for eight miles to try to find a dirt road that no longer exists as anything but a hiking trail. Google Maps got that one wrong. As I came to a dead end, I was fortunate enough to find a camper who happened to be looking at a map. I would have to backtrack of course, but there was a shortcut through the mountains by way of Ophir Pass.

This “shortcut” worked, but I spent a lot of time sitting to let jeeps pass from the other direction. This was the roughest “road” I’ve had my rental Forester on, and in many places it was barely even wide enough for one vehicle, let alone two. Storms passed through as I waited, making the road wet and extra slick.

Eventually I made it through Ophir and back to the hard road, up over Lizard Head Pass and on to the Navajo Lake Trailhead.

I did not start hiking until 4:30 p.m. This was the heaviest pack I’ve carried in quite a while, but I felt good and made excellent progress up the Navajo Lake Trail. I passed a couple groups of people who were on their way out, then I walked through one last thunder-shower as I neared the lake. The sky was ugly and gray most of the day, but now it is clearing as I get set up in my tent above Navajo Lake at about 11,200 feet.