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Stagecoach to Flagpole
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mini location map2020-05-09
38 by photographer avatarPaleoRob
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Stagecoach to FlagpoleWest, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar May 09 2020
Hiking4.31 Miles 1,121 AEG
Hiking4.31 Miles   2 Hrs   50 Mns   1.83 mph
1,121 ft AEG      29 Mns Break7 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Decided to finally bite the bullet on this one, since it has been on my list fora couple years. Not sure if I'll do it again this way, since the parking situation is sketch to say the least.
The ascent was sudden and pretty rough, going almost straight up the face of the Bookcliffs. Good training for Mount Garfield, perhaps, but a heart-pumper nonetheless. The old stage route didn't make things much easier, since its old eroded surface provided numerous sandstone ledges for my short legs to overcome. The views, however, were spectacular and the wildflowers were popping off, finally putting in a good showing after a long and dreary spring.
Going through the dynamited notch at the top I got turned around and followed what looked like the trail towards the southeast. I'm not sure who built the useless cairns or lined the non-trail, but it wound me around towards the rim. Realizing I was not getting anywhere I wanted to be, I struck off across county. There were tons of lizards darting around and the flats in the pinyon-juniper forest were easy going. The flagpole was visible, a tiny nub on a point standing out on the western horizon, overshadowed by the bulk of Mount Lincoln. Soon I was back on the trail.
Cruising westward was easy and I made good time. The knob with the flagpole was becoming more of a prominence as I approached, and by the time I hit the rim of the Bookcliffs, it was apparent I was going to be facing another climb. It was also at this time that views of the Grand Valley and beyond started to appear as the trail moved out of the PJ. The canals were full and the green fields of Palisade were looking lush. Coal seems began to crop out in the Mesa Verde group as I hiked along, but after the little draw the trail became less distinct. Despite a little wandering, it was no big deal to get back on track. A group of mountain bikers passed me going the opposite way and I really don't understand how they got up - biking up that incline seems to me like it would be pure hell.
The final slog up the flagpole knoll was the steepest part but thankfully it was over soon. And the views! The views made it very worthwhile, looking out across the Grand Valley, from the Monument to the Mesa and all the way down to the San Juan Mountains, three counties away. I ate a brief lunch at the top and watched birds whirl in the wind. Two trains passed far below me in Palisade, providing an unusual perspective on the railroad.
Finally I decided to pack it up for the day. The return trip was much easier - it was all downhill, I could see the trail from the higher vantage point, and I knew where not to go. I stopped along the way to shoot wildflowers and even got some shots of a nice collared lizard at the notch. I think my next flagpole foray will be up from the west side to explore that trail and get it in the books here.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
Lots of wildflowers out, but no prickly pears blooming yet.
"The only thing we did was wrong was staying in the wilderness to long...the only thing we did was right was the day we started to fight..."
-Old Spiritual
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