Peak(s):  Herard, Mt  -  13,340 feet
Date Posted:  07/04/2014
Date Climbed:   07/03/2014
Author:  DavidLeVan
 The Great Sand Dunes from the summit of Mt. Herard  

Mt. Herard
July 3, 2014
Distance: 9.79 miles
Total elevation: 4,397 feet


We turned onto CR 559 at 0655 and drove the nearly seven miles of land owned by Wolf Springs Ranch. We crossed the split with road 412 at 7.3 miles after the 69 turn-off, and that is when the fun began on the four wheel drive road. We were driving a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe with AWD, and we were in first gear and AWD the rest of the way until we reached the trailhead. The really hairy section is right before the pass where there is a steep ridge section that is a series of large uneven rocks. It was a challenge making it over in our SUV, and I'm not sure I'd do it again; if I do, I will certainly stay on the far south side of the road. Here is a picture of it.

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We reached Medano Pass 9.2 miles, the trailhead sign at 9.7 miles, and the trailhead itself at 9.9 miles. We had to cross one small creek crossing coming down the pass and another one right before the trailhead. We reached the trailhead at 0740.

We left the trailhead at 0750 at 9,619 feet and had a quick trip up to the lakes. We crossed three major stream crossings and one section of switchbacks on the ascent along one section of the trail still covered in snow. Here is Will navigating across it.

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Right before the lake there is a nice camping spot along with signs of restricting camping (and horses) any farther up in the basin. We reached this spot at 0925, and ten minutes later we reached the lake at 11,270 feet and 3.51 miles of hiking. It's a lovely basin.

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The trail up to the saddle between Herard and Medano is well-marked with carins, and in many places it is quite clear. We followed this trail up and reached the saddle at 1025 at 12,453 feet and 4.16 miles. We then turned to the south and followed the ridge up to the summit. The initial climb was steep and slow going for us. Here is a picture of that part of the ascent.

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We reached the false summit at 1100 and just over 13,000 feet and then made our way up the slope to the summit. Here is a picture of that final easy ascent with Will too close to the edge.

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We reached the large carin of the summit of 13,349 feet at 1115 and 4.79 miles but quickly walked farther west to get a view of the Great Sand Dunes, and what a view it was. Here is a remarkable view of the Blanca group looking over the dunes.

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Here is one of the southern half of the dunes.

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Will explored farther west. I tried to get all of the dunes in the background, but I wasn't completely successful.

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And here is one of me with Blanca and the Dunes in the background.

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Unfortunately, our selfie did not turn out too well. I seemed to have lost the dunes in the background.

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Needless to say, it was a nice place to stop for lunch with the Sand Dunes below, Blanca right next to them, the Spanish Peaks to the southeast, and the Crestones to the north. And the weather was remarkable. There was little wind on the top, and there were just a few clouds which did not look threatening at all. We stayed on the top for quite awhile.

The descent went quickly and easily. We had considered summiting "Mt. Medano" but we were pressed for time, having to be in Walsenburg at 4:00 pm, so we will have to save that summit for another day. We had some lovely views on the descent as well as the clouds started to accumulate. Here is Will looking north to "Mt. Medano."

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We left the summit at 1150, reached the bottom of the saddle by 1150, the lake by 1245, and the trailhead by 1420 for a total distance of 9.79 miles. This is the bottom large creek crossing, about 50 minutes from the trailhead.

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We were more prepared for the drive back. We passed over the water patches pretty easily. Each was probably less than a foot deep, and then we stopped at the trouble spot to scout out the best route. We opted to stay on the southern edge up to the top. Will got out to help me navigate, and he snapped this shot of us just to the other side of the tough spot.

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Another beautiful day in the mountains. There is very little information on this hike, and it seems like it is a peak that is not often summited, but I look forward to hiking it again. The views are worth it.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
mennoguy

One of my favorite lakes
07/08/2014 01:24
Also some of the best dunes views around, the only peaks that can rival it are California or Twin Peaks. It's great to see you and Will climbing some awesome peaks.


Above_Treeline
Wow
06/30/2019 23:12
Great views of the dunes. Looks like a great hike.



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