Dave had rubbed his heels completely raw and bloody on a hike two days prior, so he kept saying that he would be turning around early. As expected, he not only completed the entire route, but set the pace all day, spending considerable time waiting for me to catch up.
Here is the route (roughly):
Our route follows a dirt road to the Santiago/Joplin Trail. It then parts ways with the Santiago Trail, drops 100 feet into a notch, and follows the power lines straight up the ridge. The power line stretch is unmaintained and rather brushy, to put it mildly. Eventually, after the worst of the brush, one emerges onto the Main Divide Truck Road and revels in the wide open space afforded by the road. Walking up the road toward Santiago Peak, one is keenly aware of not being dragged down by thorns, branches, and other whackables.
On top, we enjoyed two inches of snow underfoot, cold winds, and a snow squall. Since the power line ridge was "rather brushy", we opted to descend the surprisingly pleasant Joplin Trail. On the Joplin Trail, we realized one benefit of brush-choked routes: they deter bikers, which were in full force on the Joplin Trail.
The numbers: 4800+ vertical feet; ~14 miles; 8 hours car-to-car.
Power Line Ridge follows the sun/shade line just left of center.
Ty starting up the overgrown ridge.
Ty (orange) thrashing through the final section below the Main Divide Road. The winding Santiago Trail is visible below.
Dave just below the tippy top with Modjeska Peak in the background.
Rainbow over Modjeska Peak.
On the Joplin Trail.
On the Joplin Trail near Old Camp.
Someone had a bad day on the road up to Santiago Trail.
Someone else had a bad day.