| San Luis Peak/Baldy Alto (13,698) - Stewart Creek + off trail
Date: Saturday, June 24, 2006
Team: Wyo_MtnMan, CODave, Jeff_F, TalusMonkey
TH: Stewart Creek
Peaks: San Luis Peak (14,014), Baldy Alto (13,698')
Several people had expressed an interest in hiking San Luis Peak or area 13ers on Saturday, the day before the big Culebra trip. Wyo_MtnMan, CODave, Jeff_F, Skasgaard, possibly others and I planned to meet and the Stewart Creek TH Friday night to camp.
Scott (Wyo_MtnMan) picked me up in Lakewood around lunchtime on Friday and we headed down to meet Jeff (Jeff_F) in Poncha Springs. In Poncha Springs we left Jeff's car and headed down to the Stewart Creek TH for San Luis. The long dirt road to the Stewart Creek TH is well graded right now and suitable for all but the lowest 2wd passenger cars. We had to problems and were able to drive about 20 mph.
Dave (CODave) was already parked at the trailhead when we arrived in the evening. We greeted each other and quickly set up tents. After eating/snacking and cutting up until almost 2200, we turned in for some rest.
I woke up and made as much racket as I could at about 0515 the next morning. Everyone did their morning snack/breakfast routine and we got on trail at about 0545. The valley was cool, but we could see the sun shining low in the valley not far ahead. Although there was one other vehicle at the TH, the occupants had apparently hiked up the valley the day before – the trail was an easy to follow class 1 trail and we had it to ourselves.
We made good progress at a fair pace on the gentle trail and reached timberline near 11,800. Following (and crossing) Steward Creek, we began the easy ascent to the 13,100 saddle between Organ Mountain and San Luis Peak. From there, it was another gentle climb up to San Luis Peak.
We arrived on the summit with sunshine, beautiful views and calm conditions. Already on the summer were Jeff Valliere and Dave Hale. They planned to continue to Stewart Peak. We took some photos and had our snacks/lunch. A few other groups of hikers also arrived on the summit during our rest. All had come from other trails – not the Stewart Creek trail that we had taken.
Our "posse" on the summit of San Luis Peak:
Survey marker on San Luis Peak (with spider):
We wanted to get to the hotel in San Luis early in the evening, so we agreed that Stewart Peak (13,983) was beyond our range. However, Baldy Alto (13,698') was much closer and too tempting to resist. We dropped down from San Luis Peak and did a descending traverse to the low point between San Luis and Baldy Alto (to the northeast). There, we left any semblance of a trail and dropped below a remaining snowfield and traversed back up on the other side. From there, it was class 2, perhaps some class 2+ to the summit of Baldy Alto. Although there had been no summit register on San Luis, we located and signed the register on Baldy Alto.
The ridge from San Luis to Baldy Alto (San Luis in background - photo taken from Baldy Alto):
From Baldy Alto's south slope we did a high speed descent to rejoin the Stewart Creek trail at about 12,100. We made time down the easy trail back to the parking area and loaded up and headed for the San Luis Inn to prepare for the Culebra climb on Sunday.
I think I can say that all of us, Wyo_MtnMan, CODave, Jeff_F and I, had a great time together and we will hike again. Although a little warm down low, the weather was fabulous.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):