Mt Osceola Trail, Greeley Ponds Trail. About 6.9 miles.
Sage was ready for another hike this weekend; she had yet to do a "two-fer," so I suggested the Osceolas. Alex always likes getting two or more peaks in one day, so I thought Sage might enjoy the experience as well.
Most folks utilize the Mt. Osceola Trail and retrace their steps after summiting East Osceola. This means climbing back over the main peak on the way out, and I wasn't sure Sage was up for that. It would be an easier hike (so I thought) if we could go straight over both mountains and down the other side to the Greeley Ponds Trailhead. The night before our hike, I contacted MadRiver and asked if he'd be willing to pick us up after the hike and drive us back to our car, since we'd end up miles away from the Mt. Osceola trailhead if we did indeed go straight over both mountains. Being the good friend that he is, he agreed.
Sage and I were on the trail at 7:30am, accompanied by our border terrier, Max. Since the grade never became steep, Sage found this part of the hike easy, despite the myriad of rocks and roots.
We arrived at the summit around 11:30. Unfortunately, a giant cloud had settled on the summit and we didn't get much in the way of views. Sage didn't seem to mind.
Max didn't care about the lack of views either; he just wanted some grub.
Sage followed suit...
...then relaxed by the ledge.
After chatting with a few other hikers and eating our fill, we began heading toward East Osceola...but before we could leave, Sage insisted upon standing on this boulder, since she declared THIS to be the actual summit.
The sky cleared a tiny bit on our way over...Sage enjoyed checking out the scenery.
Then it was down, down, down. The trail between the two peaks is a steep half mile down followed by a steep half mile up.
At one point, the clouds cleared long enough to give us a nice peak at East Osceola through the trees.
Sage admired the view and took a video of it (I hope to upload that later this week).
Then came...the chimney bypass. The actual chimney is a tough rock scramble that can be challenging even for the experienced hiker. I chose to skip it and take the bypass, which descends to the left of the chimney on a slightly easier grade. Still, it's nothing to sneeze at. Here it is, from the bottom looking up. The trail follows the slanted rock in the middle of the picture.
We took it slowly...except for Max, who scampered down like he was taking an easy set of stairs.
There was a bit of snow in the col between the peaks, but it was nothing that mandated snowshoes or microspikes.
Next came the steep ascent up East Osceola. One half mile of stairmaster...but at least we caught a nice view along the way...
The beautiful summit of East Osceola! Trees, trees, and more trees!
We tried to keep Max still for a pose, but that didn't work out so well (it never does).
Out came the food -- whoopie pies!!
We rested for a while -- that half mile up East Osceola is a killer -- then began the long and laborious descent. Before we got to the excruciatingly difficult part, however, we treated ourselves to some lovely views just off the trail, a couple tenths of a mile below the summit.
There's that cloud, still sitting on the main peak of Osceola. I guess it just didn't want to move.
And now...the descent. Going down East Osceola is...interesting. It's exactly as steep as this -- all the way down.
The trail also crosses a rock slide, which you have to traverse.
At this point I stopped taking pictures because I needed to use my hands lest I fall off the mountain.
Sage did well, though she scraped up her shins a bit.
Max handled all those boulders like the border terrier he is...easily, with no fuss and very little hesitation.
A million years later, we reached the bottom of the trail.
Not long after that, we reached Greeley Ponds Trail and began a nice, flat walk out. MadRiver met us along the way since we were running late and he didn't feel like waiting in his car. We arrived at the trailhead around 4pm, extremely tired but happy.
Congrats to Sage, and also to Max. 'Twas another good day in the woods.