Trailhead: Lilly Lake
Elevation Gain: 4,180'
With the recent snows and trying to plan a trip with a new partner (on Sunday), I hoped the southern Sangres would have less snow, and have great views. So up the long dirt road I went. Soon I began to see a dusting of snow on the road, then it became thicker the higher I went. Once beyond the lower 2WD trailhead, I ended up putting my truck into 4WD just so I wouldn't slide around as much. I was the only tracks this far up, at this point. With all the icy mud puddles, I was having fun. I like to see if I can get the water over the roof of my lifted truck. Based on having to run my wipers a lot, I'd say I was successful!
Once at the trailhead, I hunkered down for the cold and very windy night. I had to grill my dinner inside my truck, with only the windows cracked, because of the wind, cold and snow. The grill warmed up the back of my truck nicely, though it did make it kinda smokey. All night long the wind gusts would rock my truck around, but I managed to get a decent rest. I woke up to find 2 other vehicles at the trailhead, with one of them being a partner from a few years back. Small world!
Started after sunrise, since it was going to be a relatively short but very cold day. Wish I had packed my thicker gloves, but made do with what I had. The trail started off snowy, but not deep enough to need gaiters. With the falling leaves, the lower trail was rather pretty, as I started on my way to the Lilly Lake trail split.
Start of snowy trail
First view of nearby peaks
Blanca and Ellingwood Pt
Leaves on a snowy trail
After the trail split, the snow got deeper in places the higher I went. The deepest being right below Lilly Lake on the switchbacks in the meadow. Being lazy, and not wanting to put on my gaiters, I rock hopped and managed to stay dry. The views of Blanca and Ellingwood Pt were absolutely spectacular all morning, and I found myself frequently stopping to take photos.
Snowy creek crossing
Snow brings out the contrasts
Once up at Lilly Lake, I take a short break to take in the views and to spy my route. I had wanted to go up Pt 13,660 A first, instead of going up and over Pt 13,577 twice, but the terrain wasn't looking good yet. It looked like a nasty scree slope to ascend. Scree is ok to go down, but I hate 1 step up, to only slide most of the way back down again. So I figured I would traverse along, and see if I could find a better option.
Pt 13,660 A in distance
Slope up to Pt 13,577 - I took slope up on the left side
Once I was between the 2 lakes, I decided to go up Pt 13,577 first and not deal with the scree and talus hopping. A little bit of extra elevation gain would be easier than crossing and ascending that terrain! So I went up a moderately loose slope up to the summit of Pt 13,577.
Slope up Pt 13,660 A looks... scree-eee
Pano from Pt 13,577
Ridge to Pt 13,660 A
Huerfano, Lindsey and Huerfanito
After a short break to admire the views, I head over to Pt 13,660 A on mostly class 2 slopes. Only the very upper section of Pt 13,660 A gave me slight pause with the snow. I would call it minor class 2+, mostly due to snow covering easier options.
Ridge up Pt 13,660 A
Pano from Pt 13,660 A
Thankfully the snow filled in a traverse (so that I could spot it), that would allow me to skip re-summitting Pt 13,577. It was stable talus hopping and a not too steep slope with no extra elevation gain. Once on the Pt 13,577 - California saddle, it was an easy stroll to the final summit. I sat up top for quite a while, despite the chilly wind, just looking at the frosty peaks around me. Snow always makes things look so much more beautiful and interesting!
Looking down the ridge off Pt 13,660 A - some minor class 2+
Ridge to California
Pano from California
Blanca group and Twin Peaks
Crestones and Sand Dunes
Finally tearing myself away from the summit, I make my way down the north ridge. I knew there was a trail way way down the ridge that takes you back to the 2WD trailhead, but that was out of my way. So I was hoping to spot a better way down. I was thinking of hitting the ridge bump and then taking that slope down, till I saw a WROD. Hmmm, could I plunge step it? Yes I could! So a very quick descent of some elevation had me traversing over to the final slope down to the trail below, where I found an intermittent stream gully that went without cliffing out. It places me back at the first meadow you come to on the trail, a mere 0.2mi from the trailhead. Lots of melting had occurred in the sun, and much of the trail was now dry.
Looking back up at the north ridge of California
Looking down the north ridge, spying a way down to the upper TH
WROD! Plunge stepping never felt so good
Looking back at my descent off California
Meadow in the afternoon - lots of melting
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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