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From the Summit of Missouri Mountain down to Missouri Gulch Trailhead
(The view back down the valley where the TH is)
Summary

Missouri Mountain, Mount Oxford, Mount Belford Elevation Missouri 14,073ft. Oxford 14,160ft. Belford 14,205ft. (Aug. 24, 2002) This insane combination, done during one outing, was done in the order listed above. The trail from the Missouri Gulch TH is a class 2 trail that runs (14.0 miles rt. with 6,800ft. gain). I managed to actually stay in a campground rather then the trail head parking lot this time out. I found a campground up the road form the TH. A road that headed off to the left of the road had a number of camping stops. At the entrance to this camping area someone had already setup camp, but the road lead to a number of other camp sites.

I arrived in the area of the climb early this Friday afternoon and was able to setup camp and even relax and read a book in the shade of an evergreen. The only thing interesting about this camp out was watching a bat fly over.

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Trip Schedule break down
Friday 12:00PM -left work (US-285 and US-24 to Buena Vista, Chaffee C 390 West.
  3:30PM -arrive at Missouri Gulch TH, check out the TH and then off to campsite.
Saturday 5:15AM -leave the TH to climb the three mountains. Missouri Mountain first.
  8:00AM -summit Missouri Mountain via Missouri's Northwest Ridge
  9:15AM -Elkhead pass via  Missouri's East ridge and South face.
  10:00AM -from Elkhead Pass take Mount Belford trail to Oxford's West Slopes trail intersection.
  10:45AM -summit Mount Oxford via Oxford's West Slopes.
  11:50AM -summit Mount Belford via Belford's South Ridge.
  1:00PM -trail intersection of Mount Belford and Elkhead Pass Trails.
  1:50PM -back at the TH.
  3:15PM -off to Huron Peak's South Clear Creek TH (or South Winfields 4X4 TH).

In the morning, I packed up and drove to the TH a little ways back down the road. At the TH, I arrived to the busting of other climbers preparing for day. I headed off down the trail, and was meet with the noteworthy switch back immediately out of the parking lot. I actually prefer switch-backs because they are easier on the knees on the way back down. Having left he TH with my head lamp on, I reached the intersection where Mount Belford and Elkhead Trail diverge just as it was time to turn the head lamp off. I continued down the Elkhead pass trail  to where a cairn marked the Missouri trail. At this same point some campers who had backpacked in where just beginning to stir.

At this point I headed up the nice trial to Missouri Mountain. The trail was fairly easy, however once you made it to the ridge you still have a long walk the actual peak. After reaching the summit on Missouri, I looked at the next goal, Mount Belford, which required a lot of elevation loss then gain. This made me remember the route down Missouri's Northwest Ridge. I thought that Roach's book said that it was a class 2 or 3 route (actually the book says it is a class 4 up climb only route, oops). I though that I would be able to make it down the ridge and for go the elevation loss I would have had if I went back down into the valley. I headed off down the ridge and was doing fine for a while until I headed down off the East side of the ridge (the book says the route is down the west side and involved four class 4 maneuvers). On the east side of the ridge I ended up going down into a ravine to an area that had a lot of rotten rock. This ravine ended abruptly with a 120+ft. cliffed out drop off. This was obviously not where I wanted to be, so I bit the bullet and up-climbed and traversed back to the Southwest. I managed to find an easy way down the shale to an area off the back side of Missouri. So after switch backing to the south I descended below the cliffed out area and then traverse back to the North and back to the ridge. From this point I was back on the ridge and luckily above Elkhead pass. The rest of the hike down the ridge was un eventful, and I was thankful for that.

At Elkhead pass I found the other side of Mount Belford Trail, and took it to the intersection with Oxford trail. After going out and back to Mount Oxford I finally summited Mount Belford, went down the 20 some odd switch-backs down Mount Belford trail, and then back down the valley to the TH.