| San Juan Trio act 1
A one, and a two, and a three....(class that is)
Been itching to get back to the San Juans to cap off the Lake City area peaks. Because of my schedule at work, had to plan for late July this year instead of later in the season. Was worried a bit due to it being the 'monsoon season'. Although, two years ago we went in early September and the 1st day we had perfect weather for Sneffels then couldn't even make it up Cinnamon Pass to get to Handies due to a wicked snowstorm. Last year, we went in late August and were chased off Redcloud/Sunshine by a thunder and lightning storm. Ended up slogging all the way back from just below the summit in a solid rain . Oh well, you just do what you can and hope for the best right?
The plan was to drive from work in Littleton to the Stewart Creek trailhead and set up camp for the night. After doing a last minute check on the weather forecast, we headed up 285. Didn't really like the forecast of 30-40% chance of evening rain in the area for that night. Was not looking forward to setting up the tent in the rain. We made decent time and actually stopped in Gunnison for a quick bite and a few last minute items at the store. Just for reference, it took just over 90 minutes or so to get from Gunnison to the trailhead. The road is passable by most vehicles and the only spot I would worry about is the very last turn into the trailhead parking area where you do need some clearance. Upon arriving at the trailhead, one word came to mind - reeeeemooooooooote!!!!! Wow, San Luis is in the middle of NOwhere! Luckily, the weather was fine and we were able to set up our tent in the waining daylight under partly cloudy skies with barely a breeze. We found a great spot maybe a few hundred yards past the trailhead. Even enjoyed a campfire for the evening. That night was a fairly restless night. My wife's sleeping bag had one of its zippers broken. We tried to rearrange our bags so we could be closer and try to keep each other warm.
Waking at about 5:45, we decided to go ahead and take down the tent so we could just leave right after the hike.
Starting a bit later than I wanted, we began our trek at 6:55.
For at least the first two hours, the hike is in the forest along Stewart Creek.
After reaching treeline, you get your first, yet brief glimpse of the shy San Luis. That's it just barely peeking over the left ridge of Baldy Alto.
After being separated for a short while, the trail takes you back along the creek before crossing it to gain the Baldy ridge.
A quick hop over the creek, then up a muddy, marshy slope before getting back onto a solid trail up the ridge. This is the first area that can even be considered 'steep'.
At the top of the ridge, San Luis finally makes a full appearance.
Stay on the easy to follow trail up to the summit. Here is a shot looking back down the trail from the summit.
At almost exactly 4 hours after starting, we made it to the top of Colorado's most remote 14er! (Jeez, do I look like a 14ers.com store plug-machine or what?? )
A shot of the next two days' targets, Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn.
San Luis is not a difficult hike whatsoever. We did, however, get more worn out on this one versus the other two more technical ones probably due to the length of the hike. There were plenty of wildflowers to see along the way as well.
DAM! This is one of the many beaver dams found along the earlier parts of the route. Not lucky enough to see any of the critters though.
After making it back through the forest (I'd like to know who adds the extra mile or so that it seems like there is on every return hike ) we spotted our final destination in the trailhead parking lot.
Round trip was 7 1/2 hours including a 40 minute break at the summit. Not a bad start to our long weekend.
Now it was off to Lake City to tackle one of the more uniquely shaped 14ers...
To be continued!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):