The week prior to the trip up Humboldt, I met a number of fabulous 14ers.com-ers on Mt Lindsey. The timing was perfect. The following week, Jay521 threw out the idea of Humboldt Peak. I had a short list of peaks for early season and this one seemed perfect for conditions in comparison to the others. Jay suggested the loop from East Ridge to West Ridge. I was slightly hesitant after researching the route, but studied the topo and prepared myself for an adventure.
I started from the Rainbow Trail at ~6am expecting Jay to catch up somewhere on the East ridge. The trail crosses over the stream on a good bridge. Wildflowers lined the well maintained trail.
Columbines at the start of Rainbow Trail
My first challenge was where to turn left up to the ridge. Jay said he turned left at an orange tie on a tree, but I turned at this cairn. In hindsight, I actually hiked to the east ridge via a longer route to the north. Longer, but nice.
Cairn - turn left here (unless you turned left at orange tie)
From the cairn, I hiked up the ridge southwest through the trees. From the first view of the ridge ahead (or false summit), a clear trail lines the ridge.
The ridge/false summit from the East ridge.
I enjoyed the solitude on the trail and watching the sun shine on the trees and wildflowers. As soon as I thought to myself, "this isn't very difficult route finding," the trail transformed from the trail to a trail. This photo was the last of the trail.
The trail before it disappears.
I tried to stay on the trail for a little while but it was a waste of time. I let my west/northwest shadow from the rising sun lead me through the dense trees. I crossed a couple dry stream beds while going W/NW to open trees. Once in the open trees, the route was fairly obvious (follow the ridge, go higher).
Out of the woods.
Near timberline or a little higher, I saw Jay hiking up the ridge! Here's me looking back at Jay. This was probably the steepest part of the trail.
Hiking up the ridge. Probably the steepest part of the trail.
As soon as we reached the top of the hill in the photo, you could see Humboldt's summit. The rest of the route was fairly easy to find. There were some traces of a trail, but very faint and not worth trying to find/follow.
Route to the summit.
We were faced with whether to stay on the ridge or just south of the ridge a few times. Nothing challenging, tho.
Jay on the East Ridge.
We reached the summit and took in the amazing scenery. You can see at least half of the East Ridge from the summit looking back, the Sangre's to the south (where we were the week before), the fabulous Crestone's, and more.
Looking back on the East Ridge.
On the summit looking south.
While the west ridge route was easier and more crowded, the views were absolutely incredible. It was one of those days that you just don't want to come down.
We were thankful for the East Ridge -> West Ridge adventure from Rainbow Trail as we slogged down the old 4WD road! By taking the loop, we avoided re-tracing our steps on the boring and rocky 4WD road and avoided the crowds on the West Ridge. I sharpened my route finding, map reading and bushwhacking abilities which was surprisingly very fun for me! Lastly, we accomplished all of this while being distracted by the eye candy of Crestone and Crestone Needle on the descent. Turned out to be one great hike!
p.s. this is my first trip report. I'd love feedback on what was helpful and what was missing. Thanks!