PSU Man joined me on this two bagger to Challenger/KC. Thanks PSU Man for putting up with a slow geezer. It was a fairly uneventful climb until the last 20 minutes that I spent chasing a gypsy lady through the woods. More on that later.
We made it from the trailhead to Willow Lake in about three hours.
Here's PSU man as we are hiking into Willow Lake
Willow Lake is a great place to camp overnight and there were only a couple of other groups overnighting there.
The top end of Willow Lake as we are on our way to Challenger
Probably the most challenging part of the climb up Challenger is that scree gully. A lot of loose rock with some angle so you have to watch that you don't send some loose stuff down on your climbing partner.
PSU Man pointing to the scree gully of Challenger that awaits us.
A look up that scree gully
The marker on Challenger
Kit Carson from the summit of Challenger
PSU Man working his way to the saddle between Challenger/KC
PSU Man headed up the Avenue
Kit Carson summit, Gotta fly the 4-H flag! Challenger in the background.
Can't do it without Enbrel!
I've climbed 38 14ers in the last two years. This would not have been possible without the drug Enbrel. Five years ago I could not walk across the room because of Psoriatic Arthritis--The same thing Phil Mickelson announced that he has been diagnosed with this summer. Twice a week injection that has been a miracle drug for me.
A look at the Crestones from KC
Back to the upper end of Willow Lake by mid-afternoon
On the way down I was running out of gas so when we got back close to Willow Lake I told PSU Man to go on ahead. I got back to the Lake and tore down camp and packed up. It was about 4:00 p.m. when I left Willow lake and it took me about 4 hours to get back to the trailhead. (I made it uphill in this section in 3 hours, so I had definitely hit the wall.)
I was probably 15 minutes from the trailhead when I passed the register and signage for Willow Lake. It was about 8:00 p.m. and I made a mistake and turned left at the fork in the trail instead of right. I ended up in an area with some houses--obviously not at the trailhead.
I knocked on the door of a house to ask for a ride to the trailhead. An older stick of a lady with a drink in one hand answered the door. I explained my situation and she said in her Zsa Zsa Gabor Hungarian accent, "I've not done a good deed for anyone in some time--I do this for you!"
She loaded me, and my gear, and her two big dogs in the only operational vehicle of the four of them parked in the yard. It was a stripped out shell that was a dog hauling minivan--complete with dog bowls, bedding etc. and only two seats in it.
Instead of going all the way back to the town of Crestone and back up the road to the trailhead, she said she knew of as shortcut. After just a couple of minute drive, she pulled over to the side of the dirt road and said, "You follow me. Only 20 minutes." And off she went into the nearly dark woods at a very fast pace.
She looked back at me and said, "My name is Ruth. You keep up with me or you will be Ruthless--Ha Ha Ha!"
Remember that I had hit the wall about 4 hours back and I was chasing this gypsy lady through the woods with all my might. She looked back and said,"This is probably not very smart, me being in the woods with a stranger--but you cannot catch me so I guess I am safe--Ha Ha Ha!"
Well 20 minutes later I was walking across a log bridge 10 feet above a creek in total darkness and BAM, I was at the trailhead. I gave Ruth many thanks and off through the woods she went with her two dogs. If anyone in the town of Crestone knows this women tell her thanks again for me. She was a lifesaver.
Remember that on the end of this trail at the register--turn right NOT LEFT or you might be chasing a gypsy lady through the woods in the dark!