Peak(s):  Kit Carson Peak  -  14,165 feet
Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Post Date:  10/08/2011
Date Climbed:   10/02/2011
Posted By:  BirdMan

 Beautiful Fall Day in the Sangres - KC and Challenger   

I wanted to make one last run on some 14ers and the weekend seemed perfect for an attempt on Kit Carson and Challenger Point from the Willow Lake trailhead.

Ironically, I got a late start leaving Colorado Springs on Saturday because I was helping my daughter with a school project on Colorado landforms.

I arrived at the trailhead at 5 pm on Saturday night and started to backpack in towards Willow Lake at 5:30 pm. A late start so I knew I was looking at either backpacking to the lake and setting up camp in the dark or finding a place along the way to camp before it got too dark.

An hour in with the sun setting and darkness coming down, I started looking a place to camp for the night. The trail has pretty dense foliage on either side and most of it is uneven (i.e. not great for pitching a tent) so I felt lucky to find such a good campsite.

Because of the late start, the light was better for photos on Sunday and as such many of these photos are out of chronological order.

Be it ever so humble there is no place like home…

It was close to 8 pm by the time I got the camp site set-up and got in the tent for the night. I knew I wanted to get an early start the following day, so it was an early night to sleep.

It was a little eerie setting up camp and then starting the hike the following morning in the dark, but soon enough the sun came out revealing an autumn day of blue skies and truly amazing surroundings.



I believe it took me about 2 hours to hike from my campsite to Willow Lake (below) – or a little over 3 hours total from the trailhead.

Above the lake you head through a series of willows before starting to gain real elevation.

The trail is easy to follow into the steep and loose scree, but this was not a lot of fun to go up or down.

Gaining the ridge I got my first look at both Challenger Point (on the right) and the main objective for the day, Kit Carson (on the left).

The plaque on Challenger Point.

Looking down from whence I came.

Even on such a beautiful day I encountered very few other people, so had to snap my own summit photo.

But enough lolly-gagging, time to head on for summit #2 of the day. I was pleased at getting on the summit of Challenger so early. The sun still rising above Kit Carson. The ledge of Kit Carson Avenue is visible going up and around KC.

A closer look at “the Avenue”.

I didn’t find the hike around KC avenue and the class 3 section up Kit Carson difficult at all. You’ll just want to be ready for the famous conglomerate rock of the Sangres! I believe I made the summit of Kit Carson from Challenger Point in 45 minutes.

Below a view of the trip register, the Crestones on the right and Humboldt on the left.

The weather continued to hold throughout the day and the fall colors were just spectacular.

Even the locals agreed…

Still, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Packed up. Ready to hike out and head home.

24 hours of fun. The sun setting over the mountains on the drive home…


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Beautiful!     10/09/2011 21:34
Looks like you had an outstanding day! Lovely fall colors! Congrats on the double! Thanks for the post!


Nice!     10/10/2011 02:41
Way to get two more Brad! You've had a good year!


Fall Day     12/11/2011 22:23
Great pics, amigo! Glad you had such a great climb!


Wow!     09/17/2012 22:43
Your pics are AWESOME! I have a cabin in Silver Cliff, and my home is in Clovis, New Mexico. I love the views and all the color in your pics! Nice job! I'm coming up this weekend, so it looks like I'll be able to photograph the Fall colors at the right time. Thanks again for sharing your photos and experience.


Oops!     09/17/2012 22:47
I just realized these pics are a year old! LOL! Guess I should pay more attention to the detail..

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