Lake Ann and West Apostle
The wilderness rehabilitation continues and for the second week in a row, we managed to escape the summer crowds and find a little peace and quiet. Well, it was quiet at least with regards to the lack of people, but the regular rolls of thunder and sheets of rain against the wall of the tent were at times pretty loud.
The weather pattern is in a full blown monsoonal pattern right now, which for our area means rain, heavy at times, and nearly every day. Discouraging as it may be, if you’re motivated, you can often sneak in an activity in the morning, before the deluge begins.
So unwilling to spend our days off at home, we had little choice but chance it. Christy and I headed over Independence Pass to Lake Ann, high in Apostle Basin in the Sawatch Range, just west of the popular 14er, Huron Peak. Framing the backdrop of the basin are the namesake “Three Apostles”, two of which are the Centennial 13ers, Ice Mountain and North Apostle, which we climbed back in 2002. It was back then, when on the summit of Ice Mountain, that we first saw Lake Ann out to the west, and set it as a goal to return here some day and explore the area and maybe even try for the third peak of the trio, West Apostle. Finally, eight years later, we finally checked it off our list.
We headed in Friday evening and once again made it as far in as we could, finishing by headlamp and ultimately setting up camp when we agreed it was getting late and any further wandering in the forest would just get us lost. Thankfully there was no rain. The next morning we were up and moving on the early side– we had to set up camp at Lake Ann and try for the 13,568 foot summit, and all before the inevitable rain arrived. A 30 minute hike later and we were at the lake, nabbing a sweet campsite on a rocky knoll that overlooked the water.
After quickly setting up and grabbing only what we needed to tag the summit, we started up towards West Apostles’ long West Ridge. The skies were pretty clear, clouds were only starting to form, and like always, we told ourselves we’d just keep going, reassessing the weather along the way. The ridge was gained, several sub peaks were summited, and about two hours after leaving camp we were on top. We had beat the weather, at least for now.
There were storms on three sides of us and we knew it was just a matter of time before something closed in, so after hearing a long deep roll of thunder, we packed up and started down. Ridges aren’t fun places to be when lightning is around and since we had needed about an hour to climb the ridge, we worked quickly to descend so as not to have to deal with that scenario. Once lower down, we took five minutes to eat something and try to track the nearby storms and determine if any were imminent threats, when huge bolt of lightning flashed directly in front of us. We knew we were lucky to have made it this far without rain, and we happily dropped off the ridge and hightailed it back to camp.
Here’s the GPS track of the climb from camp to the summit. Click “Satellite” or “Terrain” for a different view or “View Details” to, well, view more details.
Not ten minutes after we got back to the tent, at 3 pm, the rain began, and it didn’t really stop until the middle of the night. Tentbound and dry, we had hors d’oeuvers and then dinner in the confines of our nylon abode, acknowledging our luck to have had the little bit of nice weather we did through the morning.
By the next morning, after the rain had abated and most of our gear was pretty well dried out, we packed up and returned to the truck, and lucky for us and just like the day before, the rain started up again as soon as we were done. It rained the whole way home.
So there was plenty of bad weather but luckily only when we were in the tent or the truck. We hiked in and out to camp, climbed the ridge and tagged the summit while things were dry. So for us, the lesson learned is don’t cancel everything automatically just because the forecast isn’t perfect. If you go and try sometimes it just works out. At a minimum it might just be fun to hang out in a tent with wine & cheese and read magazines.
And check out Lake Ann, it’s pretty cool.