McGregor Mountain (10,486 ft, 3,196 meters) to Black Canyon Trail Loop, 11/16/2003
We started from the Twin Owls Trailhead at 9:08. Surprisingly, there were few cars in the parking area. On the drive here, it was quite sunny but as we started hiking, clouds began to cover up the sun. After leaving the McGregor ranch property, beyond the last cattle gate, we turned left, off of the trail for a few yards, and continued up the dirt road that paralleled the trail. This dirt road eventually became a trail. Just before reaching McGregor Falls at 9:50, we turned left, off of the trail, crossing the creek. We then began ascending the ridge, but in a spiral fashion, veering to the left as we ascended. We took this roundabout way because the last time we climbed this mountain, we went straight up the ridge, so this time, we wanted to to see if there was an alternative way up. Continuing up in this fashion, we came upon the bleached skeleton of a large animal, which appeared to have been a bear because of the short stocky thigh bones. Interestingly, the skull was missing. Near the upper thinly forested slopes of the mountain, we were able to look down and see the paved road of the Fall River entrance of RMNP. Near about here, we began to ascend straight up, and finally reached the McGregor Mountain summit at 11:18. On the summit, there was a thin layer of snow, but it didn't feel very cold because there was wasn't much wind, and the sun was shining. There was a summit register tube in a pile of rocks that marked the summit, but we forgot to sign it. We were eager to begin our return, because we didn't know how long it would take to descend the unfamiliar way we had planned. So after taking some pictures and putting on our jackets, we began heading northwest along the ridge of McGregor Mountain, at 11:45. We finally reached a saddle point between the McGregor Mountain summit and a 9,845 foot knob to the northwest. From there, we turned right, descending along the drainage toward Black Canyon Creek. I was relieved that the snow was not very deep yet, being only a couple of inches. We reached the McGregor Mountain Campsite at 12:56, and soon stopped for lunch. For the return, we followed the campsite trail back to the Black Canyon Trail, then turned right, reaching the junction of the Black Canyon Trail and the Cow Creek Trail at 13:40. We returned to the Twin Owls Trailhead and parking area at 15:08.