13-Apr-2013 -- A group of us atmospheric science graduate students from Colorado State University headed up to Steamboat Springs for closing ski weekend. I swear it’s because I don’t have a season pass that I didn’t ski, but the confluence of 41N 107W just north of there was pretty enticing as well! I recruited two friends and we made the drive an hour and fifteen minutes north via CR129. At the pass just north of Columbine the road turns to dirt (slush/mud), and was pretty dicey as we descended down the north-facing valley. Luckily Gus’s Subaru Forester handled the muck pretty well, and we learned why the locals call mid-April through mid-May “Mud Season”.
Passed through the gates of Three Forks ranch (still on CR129) and then quickly turned off on Forest Service Road 551 (sharp right). We got so bogged down about halfway up that we ended up just parking and continuing on foot. We left the car at 10:45am with a reading of 45 deg. F. We turned east when we reached Forest Road 508, which shortly thereafter entered the Routt National Forest (photo #2). This was a very rutted, winding, and snow-covered road (I doubt anyone has traversed it since September), so we tried forging our own shortcut up and down some of the ridges it follows. While this may have shortened our distance, it was definitely way more slippery and strenuous than just following the road, which we decided to do on our return. The late-season snow was compacted enough to support our weight most of the time, although every once in a while one of our legs would suddenly break through the crust to our knee. Landmines!
The confluence lies on a south-facing slope that empties into a small stream, which empties into a clearing through which FR508 passes. Following this stream until a few hundred meters west of 107W is definitely the easiest way to reach it. We arrived at 12:15pm and stayed for about 20 minutes zeroing out the GPS, taking a group shot, and enjoying success. Two trees are situated nearly directly atop the confluence – lucky sons of birches! Elevation reading was 8,238 feet. The wind started to pick up when we eventually decided to head back. We reached the car at 1:45pm, having enjoyed a moderate three-hour round-trip hike.
On our drive back we stopped for lunch at Hahn’s Peak Café near rural Steamboat Lake, which I would highly recommend. Small mom-and-pop operation. My green chili pork enchilada ‘n’ eggs was so incredibly good that I felt obligated to add another picture. Back on the paved roads returning to Steamboat Springs to enjoy some brews and closing weekend music/festivities, we felt very lucky we were able to visit a mountainous Colorado confluence so early in the season.