Hunter's Creek - Mt Orton(11724ft) - Sandbeach Lake Loop, 10/20/2002
Started hiking from the Sandbeach Lake trailhead at 8:47. At Hunter's Creek, we turned right going up the creek. There was a faint trail on the right side of the creek, which we followed. The trail eventually disappeared and we kept hiking through partially wooded terrain. We eventually got into some krummholz and very slowly made it to Keplinger Lake. Stefan's legs looked like he got into a fight with a mountain lion, with two scratches, several inches in length, that were bleeding. We should have worn long pants. I had only light scratches. Keplinger Lake was partially covered with thin ice. Hiking west from the lake, we soon stopped for a rest near a large rock to shelter us from the wind. The air temperature felt like about 32 degress Fahrenheit, and I put on a jacket over my sweatshirt. Stefan was not cold and did not put a jacket on. From this spot there was a spectacular view of Pagoda Mtn along with Longs Peak and Mt Meeker, so we took several pictures. Moving on, we hiked west/northwest up the Mt Orton ridge, and at the top of the ridge we had a clear view of the route up Chief's Head. Also from there Stefan took a great picture of Mt Alice. We then headed south to the Mt Orton summit and past that to just before the start of the forest, then slipped down in a southeast direction off of the Mt Orton ridge into the Hunter's Creek drainage. We soon came upon a faint trail which we roughly followed to Sandbeach Lake. At the lake we rested on a log and enjoyed a lunch of nuts, crackers and nachos. Some picnic birds soon arrived and they got any of our lunch that fell on the ground. We left the lake at around 15:00 and got back to the truck at approximately 17:00. This was a very pleasant hike with lots of solitude and super views. The only drawback was the big scratches that Stefan got due to the krummholz, which we completely bypassed on the return by hiking back along the ridge of Mt Orton.