San Luis and The Unexpectedness
- CDT Miles: 996-987.9 & 979.4-976.4 (11.1)
- San Luis Peak Alt.: 8.3 miles
- Mike Alt.: 0.7 miles
- Creede Cutoff Alt.: 36.4-34.4 (2)
- Total Hiked: 2,629.2 miles
- Elevation Range: 9,715-14,020
Twas another one of the coldest nights I’ve faced I’d say, although I felt better wrapped up and slept quite soundly actually. It was the morning really when I felt the coldest. I did get up earlier than my alarm and so was hiking by 6:13am.
I tented at a saddle/high point of the trail and so got the pleasure of hiking downhill for the first two miles or so. Down to Cochetopa Creek. The beavers had been active at the spot I first.came across and so there were a few nice pools. As I turned around to get a picture, I spotted something swimming around out in one of them.
As I mentioned already… it was a cold morning. My water hose froze and there was ice in my bottle too. I had finally gotten quite close to the snowy peaks I’d been seeing the last few days and I had a suspicion I was heading up into them.
At 7:45am, I finally walked into some glorious sunlight.
Took a second to bask in it, get things situated, and cleared the ice out from the drinking hose. Figured it’d be safe at this point, but nope it ended up freezing solid again. Dang it. The sun was short-lived too. I entered back into shadow, but a lovely walk overlooking the creek.
Around 8:30am things opened up and the sun warmed me once again!
At 9:00am, I reached the Eddiesville Trailhead where much to my appreciation, there was an outhouse. Felt this was a great spot for second breakfast and to dry my tent stuff out.
Now yesterday I talked about my mocha and today had an even better concoction. Instant Folgers coffee (the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup, afterall), a Carmel Machiato creamer cup, and a hot chocolate with mallows. Wow! Someone should brew these up and sell them… Oh wait, that’s Starbucks. Hahahaha. Just a little Starbucks burn there for you. JK jk, I enjoy the ‘bucks.
So this particular spot also serves as a junction where an alternate route veers off and heads up San Luis Peak, another Colorado 14’er. Tempting. Very tempting. Indeed, I decided, like many other CDT’ers before me, to switch things up and take this path that includes another peak summit. It appeared to be similar mileage and the reports were that it was decent trail conditions on the Stewart Creek Trail…
So after breakfast, I set out. The morning up to this point had been cloudless and now as I started going, only a few puffy’s loomed overhead. The trail was quite gentle and gradual for a long ways. I also think it was the world’s largest city of the beavers seeing as the first four miles it appeared to be pond after dammed up pond.
The further I went, the more white I was seeing up on the mountains. Frightened me some I’ll admit. It’s sort of a dead end if the trail became too sketchy. I’d have to turn around and try the CDT. Thankfully a day hiker (or day runner?) passed me going the opposite way and told me the trail is alright the whole way up. She’d brought spikes, but didn’t use them. That cheered me up.
Another hiker had commented that there were Bristlecone Pines (super old and gnarly trees) along the way. I found them, but not 100% sure that’s what they were. Either way, they were cool looking I thought…
I filled up water and had some snacks at 12,200 feet. From that point on things really opened up and soon afterwards, got steep!
I thought this one straight ahead was it, and it threw me off for a while, but eventually I got my brain and the map on the same page.
It was not it. Instead, I switchbacked up a snowy northern face to the left ridge of that peak and then continued up above and beyond it. San Luis was just hiding out of sight behind it.
There he is… back behind.
And, once atop that ridge, there was this cool rocky peak looking the other direction…
The snow and the rock was the ideal hiking as many commenters had made it seem. It wasn’t bad or unsafe, but lots of jagged cobbles that do a great job of making your feet bend in weird ways and put stresses on my already falling apart on shoes. I persevered and slowly climbed right up to the top for a 1:10pm summit of San Luis Peak!
Not sure why I always take these videos right when I get up there and am still out of breath…
There were many much more puffy clouds around now, but I still felt alright being up there, enough even to take lunch break. I had some little chicken salad and cracker “kits.” Pretty nice change up actually, despite it not looking the tastiest.
The dynamic duo was pretty pumped as well…
Tried to keep it quick and then down I went. A dark rain/snow cloud was threatening…
On the way down something quite awesome and somewhat out of the blue occurred… I saw another hiker coming up and wouldn’t you know it, as we got closer, called out “Is that Stevie Wonder?” A big grin came over my face as I recognized my buddy Mike!
Well… here’s the scoop, it wasn’t a completely random encounter. Mike and I had been texting about my itinerary and going over when I might be getting into my next town. He’s currently living in New Mexico and visited me on trail back in Grants too. What a guy. Now, having Monday off for Indigenous People’s Day and a long weekend, he ventured up to Colorado to do some hiking and see if our paths might cross as well.
The thing is, I still wasn’t expecting to see my pal til potentially the next day when I planned to head into Lake City for resupply. I imagined there was a chance I might be lucky and time it right to get a ride from him from the Pass. This was all over just a few texts since limited cell service in the area. Turns out, Mike also had his eyes set on hiking this very same 14,000 feet peak. Wild.
So after catching up and hearing each other’s stories a bit, we talked of plans ahead. Mike decided he was going to go for the summit. As much as I would’ve liked to hike with him and go for it, don’t think I had it in me to head right back up the sucker. Would’ve been our second 14’er together having tackled Longs Peak back in 2008 together though.
We parted ways thinking we’d stay with the original plan of him finding me tomorrow late morning in or trying to get in to town. I turned and began downwards.
And every now and then turned and watched as he trudged upward. Trooper!
When walking and getting a chance to think it through, I eventually made a call to just wait for Mike to summit and come back down. So, I went a few miles ahead knowing that was the same direction he had to go to head out, then sat down by a creek. It was mid to late afternoon by this point and I had visions in my brain of walking out with Mike and driving into town to a brewery or some hot food and maybe even splurging on getting a hotel!
The wait was really nice actually. This is how backpacking should be, eh? Getting a chance to rest, sit back, and just soak in the stunning views…
The only thing about sitting still. It got cold. Even after layering up, it was getting later and the shadows had gotten me, so I decided to start moving. There was still a bit further to the side trail where Mike had come from. So up chasing sunlight I went. He came into sight around a bend at 6pm or so and I filled him in on my idea to hike out with him. Then, it was off the CDT to find where his car was parked.
Still had a few miles to hike actually and it ended up getting dark on us and we both got our headlights out.
Well, to summarize it up, my ideas of beer and food and warm lodging didn’t come to fruition this evening. Or at least, it didn’t pan out the way I’d imagined. We got to the car later than I expected and the dirt road down took us longer too. All things I should’ve expected. By the time we reached the tiny town of Creede, it was pretty much shut down by that point. We did manage to find a bar open and went there for a CL smoothie (Coors Light), but the only food available were small bags of chips and we were both famished after big hiking days. I seemed to have lost all energy too and crashed tired-wise.
We ended up driving right back to where Mike had parked to hike and he got situated in his car camp setup while I quickly set up my tent. It had snowed a bit in our absence, so I set up my ground sheet overtop a very thin layer of snow.
Overall, an awesome series of unexpected events today, but a tired and cold ending to the day!
Album of the Day
“Love Sux” – Avril Lavigne
Songs of the Day
“Tom Sawyer” – Rush, “Immigrant Song” – Led Zeppelin, “Sabotage” – Beastie Boys, and “Crab Rave” – Noisestorm
Audiobook of the Day
Finished “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien