Peak(s):  Cronin Pk  -  13,870 feet
Date Posted:  07/23/2013
Date Climbed:   07/19/2013
Author:  Matt
 Furlough Friday in Baldwin Gulch   

"North Carbonate" aka Cronin Peak
13,870' (CO rank #75)
Approximately 4 miles and 2300' gain

Thanks to the wisdom of our politicians and the Federal brass, the war on 'terror' marches on, the N.S.A. is likely logging my trip reports, and the TSA has their cancer boxes, but non-VA Federal health care workers are being forced to take one unpaid day each week through September. Priorities, man.

My response? Whoo hoo! I'm gonna go hike North Carbonate on my second Furlough Friday. Who needs money? I like the time off.

I had to be back in Denver by late afternoon on Friday, so I left town around 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, and took a leisurely drive to the bottom of the Baldwin Gulch road, where the torrential rain kept me inside the car, sipping on an IPA, waiting to fall asleep. A downright riveting episode of "Coast to Coast AM" kept me awake until 11:30, and I snoozed until 6:30 a.m. Had I woken up sooner with better weather, I was planning on a jaunt to Mt. White, then a descent down the steep shoulder from 13k to Baldwin Gulch. Alas, I can be lazy and it started raining not long after 10:30 a.m.

Having just replaced the shocks/struts of my Toyota (after 184k miles), I was chomping at the bit to devour this road, which I'd last driven in maybe 2007. The creek crossing was negligible, and the river running down the road wasn't a concern, but I wasn't shooting for the skyline. Pretty soon, I was at 12k, wondering if I should follow Roach's directions and park down below to ascend the North Ridge, or just park here. In retrospect, I should have manned up and started from where I was, but I drove down a few hundred feet and started hiking around 8am.
That's about it for the narrative. Here are some pics to show a quick hike that surprised me with its beauty.

North Carbonate from 12k

Looking at the bottom of Cronin's North Ridge. Best route goes left up the grassy section

Easy crossing of Baldwin Creek at 11,670'

Mt. Princeton in the distance

Looking up the north ridge from about 12,600'

Looking down again

Looking up again

Cool looking unnamed lake

Alone atop a sea of Sawatch peaks, I dropped my pack, ate a meatball sub, and started snapping pics of the impressive summit views.

Antero and White across the way

Tabeguache from Cronin's summit





Eventually, I could see the potential for bad weather coming in, and I packed up. Mt. White was shrouded in clouds. No go. I really wanted to visit the little lake pictured above, so I started down North Carbonate's East Ridge, planning on dropping down what looked to be skiable scree at the head of Baldwin Gulch. I like loops. Loops make hiking more interesting, so I was gonna make one back to my truck, through the top of the gulch. At this point, I noticed that a mass of clouds was moving toward me from the east-southeast, climbing over Tabeguache and Antero. While storms aren't supposed to go this way (except in the Sangres), the clouds were doing weird things--moving upward, then downward toward Cyclone as they covered Tabeguache and rolled over Antero, spilling into Baldwin Gulch. I made a beeline for the Cronin-Antero saddle at 12,820.


These clouds were moving up, then down

Taken from the top of Baldwin Gulch

Looking back at Cronin

My descent route started at the tiny cairn seen in the middle of this shot.

At the lake. Is this "eerie" enough for you?

Looking over at Cronin as the rain pelted me

Cool wheelbarrow on a 'mining claim'

After the lake, I just headed toward the road, which I could see in the distance, being careful to not needlessly lose elevation. No problem!
Overall, this was just what the doctor ordered--an easy hike to a wonderful summit on an unplanned day off. Yes.
The mosquitoes were relentless back at my car, so I put the pedal to the metal and blasted down the road (up to 20mph, thank God I didn't meet anyone going down), putting my new suspension to use until I hit the pavement and proceeded directly to Amica's for a #11 (ditch the olives, add green chile) and an IPA.
Double yes!

Roach book
LoJ quad

Comments or Questions
07/23/2013 12:45
As a federal worker myself (Dept. of Justice), I was worried about the loss of money with the furloughs. Then I became excited at the thought of 14 extra days to climb and mountain bike over the summer. Just at the height of my excitement, our agency was pardoned from the furloughs. Dang it..........glad to see you taking advantage of the time off.

Cronin is sweet!
07/23/2013 13:31
Great pics of a neat mountain! Nice one, Matt. I just wish I'd read your report before I did it - the North Ridge looks much better than going straight up from that cool little lake like I did... Love the ”Eerie” shot.

Brian Thomas
Furlough Friday
07/23/2013 14:52
Contractors at DoD are not subject to furloughs, hence I still work five days a week.

NSA is only looking out for the best interests of the USA. The NSA is your friend. Love love love the NSA!

Who needs money ...
07/23/2013 15:23
I like the time off. I TOTALLY AGREE! I've certainly had MANY non-paid days off just to go to the mountains (of course, mine were elective, but enjoyable nonetheless). Nice pictures. By the way, the #11 at Amica's is okay (maybe a bit better than okay with your substitution), but I'll take the #5 and my own bottle of spicy oil please. And, to clarify, the ONLY time that ”Coast to Coast AM” is riveting is when they replay Art Bell (nuff said). See you soon ... happy trails!

Furlough Friday
07/23/2013 16:03
Livin' the dream....lucky guy.. I totally agree on the money vs. free time. I'd make that trade any day.

What's your plan for this Friday?

07/23/2013 16:12
The only reason I would consider working for the state again. Not a bad schedule. Cronin's got some nice color to it. Aquamarine and blue beryl all over too. Also, I'm jealous of your Toyota upgrades/repairs. Mine's starting to sound off.

Back to the List
07/23/2013 16:41
Nice use of some free time. Straight to Amica's? No pit-stop to get talked up at Elevation?

07/23/2013 20:16
Mtgirl, sorry you're considered ”essential.” You'll have playtime aplenty soon enough.
Thanks, Jay
Brian, what can I say? You could be unemployed...
Ryan, your Toyota has to be newer than mine, at least it looks a lot younger. I've been ignoring odd noises for years with no adverse results. The last mechanic found nothing wrong (besides the dent).
Presto, the #5 looks pretty swell, too, but I am hooked on the Montenotte. Maybe Udi's has something good, too?
Scot, you know me so well... Elevation was closed.

Chicago Transplant
Good use of time!
07/23/2013 20:21
I had my own ”Furlough Peaks” last year when work was slow, hopefully things pick from a financial standpoint, but the time off wasn't so bad when you get to do things like this!

Getting Close!
07/24/2013 00:49
Congrats on another step towards the Centennials, Matt! I wish I got to partake in furlough Fridays. The closest thing I have to those are ”sick day” Fridays, but I only get six of those a year and hand sanitizer can't protect me forever...

Any day in the Mountains...
07/24/2013 14:55
Is better then a day at work.. I have fridays off as well, shoot me a PM if you'd like a partner for the last three weeks in September. I'll be out of town for most of August.

I'd kill for a furlough
07/25/2013 03:54
We were talking, at length about 4-10 hour work weeks today at work. 3-13's were brought up as well. There just isn't enough time on this earth to climb all this crap. Nonetheless - nice work taking advantage of it. Mary Cronin would be proud.

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