PT 13,513 (Silver Peak) - Gibson Creek Trailhead via Swift Trail
Pt 13,513 a Tri-Centennial Peak ranked number 247.
11.5 miles roundtrip
7 1/2 hours
The trail starts at the Gibson Creek trailhead. The trailhead is accessed from Hermit Road as it heads straight west out of the Town of Westcliffe. The road to the trailhead is the right fork and it is signed. The road will end at a "t" in the road where you will go left. There is another sign there and you want to go straight past a few drives and 0.2 of a mile onto forest service land to the end of the road. There was some snow on the last section and 4wd may be needed. There are a few no parking signs just before you go through the fence that is on either side of the road. There is plenty of parking and a sign at the trailhead.
There are several peaks that can be climbed from this trailhead; Spread Eagle, Mount Marcy, etc. (see a few of my previous reports). Also a few I am looking at too for another trek, Gibbs and DeAnzo.
I made the drive down on Friday morning. I wanted to get out but lacked a little in the motivation department. I don't know, a long week or recovering some from last Saturday's excursion to Electric and Lakes peaks (see report by Furthermore).
I had too late a start than what I would have normally liked to have and got out on the trail just before 9:00 a.m. Luckily the days are getting longer even if just by a few minutes each day.
Once I got going I was feeling more enthusiastic. The Sangres won't disappoint.
There are two options for the trail from the parking. First it can be accessed by heading north from behind the sign and then crossing a field to catch the Rainbow Trail or otherwise going west a few tenths of a mile and catching the Rainbow Trail a few tenths of a mile south of the first option.
The Rainbow Trail goes approximately a half mile to the junction with the Swift Trail (#1351). The trail will go farther north before the next junction for the Lakes of the Clouds trail. The Swift Trail is straighter, shorter and will connect to the Lakes of the Clouds Trail higher up.
The Rainbow Trail.
Morning sun over Westcliffe.
The Rainbow Trail and the first mile or so of the Swift Trail were minimal snow and so I booted it a ways before I decided to use the snowshoes rather than carry them. I often debate with myself (the dog doesn't seem to have an opinion) on the subject of how much snow and what type of snow really make it worthwhile to strap on the extra weight to my feet or carry the extra weight on my pack.
I put on the shoes and it worked out well as the snow was getting a little deeper as I climbed higher. There was a "trough" along parts of the trail where the locals make their way up to the lakes. There was 2-4" of new powder or maybe blown powder for a good part of the trough. There were areas that were certainly deeper and up to the knees too. The trough ended for sure below the first or Lower Lake of the Clouds.
The Swift Trail.
Ice Falls along the way. I kind of like the falls.
I made my way around the north side of the lower lake and then pushed upward through the remaining trees to tree line.
Lower Lake of the Clouds.
Tree line looking back down.
This put me in mind of a song:
Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at (the Lakes of the) clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.
I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's (the Lakes of the) cloud(s) illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.
Actually the Lakes of the Clouds did not block anything and it was not snowing either. It was a Colorado blue sky day.
Heading up, summit center left.
I went straight up and then bent northerly as I gained the ridge. I actually went around to the north side of the peak and then back southerly along the ridge to the summit.
Here you are looking at the ridge that can be climbed to gain Mount Marcy.
Up we go.
On the slopes looking at Lakes of the Clouds Peak (PT 13,524) and the Crestones.
Spread Eagle Peak to PT 13,524.
Gaining ground. The point straight ahead is not the peak but north of the shallow gully I went up.
The north ridge.
As has been the case for the other Sangre De Cristo peaks along the divide I have summited in the last month or two the views are once again outstanding.
Pictures from the summit.
PT 13,524, Rito Alto and beyond.
Rito Alto, Hermit, Eureka and the Crestones.
Mount Marcy, DeAnzo, Electric and beyond. Gibbs to the far right.
The way back east and racing the setting sun at my back.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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