Peak(s):  West Spanish Pk  -  13,626 feet
East Spanish Pk - 12684
Date Posted:  07/28/2018
Date Climbed:   07/21/2018
Author:  deters34
 The Epic Spanish Peaks Traverse  

My buddy and I have wanted to summit but East and West Spanish peaks in one push for over a year now. Our schedules finally matched up so last Saturday 21 July we started our journey. We decided on hiking to the saddle based off the East Spanish peak trail report on All Trails. After the saddle we would route find up the east face of West Spanish Peak to the summit, which we knew would be the more difficult summit, then back down to the saddle and up the easier west face of East Spanish peak.

Not knowing the total mileage or how long it would take we opted to start early. Leaving Pueblo at midnight and making it to the trailhead at 2am. To get to the trailhead you drive to La Veta, in La Veta drive on Main Street and when Main Street turns to the right, take a left onto E. Grand St. Then take the very next left onto County Road 360. After you pass two lakes on the right, take your next left onto County Road 362. Then take the next left onto County Road 360. You’ll stay on County Road 360 for some time on a nice grated dirt road. If you’re not paying attention, you will miss the turnoff for Wahatoya Trail. If you have a low-clearance car you’ll want to park here. If you have a lifted car, you can turn onto the 4WD Wahatoya trail road and drive another 2 miles or so to the actual trailhead. We were driving an older F150 in 4WD and made it fine. If you have clearance, you could take it slow to the actual trailhead. Believe me, if you’re attempting both peaks, you’re going to want to drive up the 4WD road to save the extra four miles round trip.

The trailhead is marked well and initially starts out very flat. After about a quarter mile you cross a pretty big creek. We stayed dry crossing so it’s possible but after a major rain it would be difficult to cross. The trail has been washed out in this area so pay attention to where the trail picks up after the creek. The trail continues to gradually gain elevation. We were able to trail run almost the entire way to the saddle because of the slow elevation gain. Before the saddle, you cross another, smaller creek but again it has been washed out recently so finding the other side of the trail takes care. You know you have hit the saddle when you see the sign on the left side of the trail showing the way to East Spanish Peak. This is about two miles from the trailhead. West Spanish Peak was our first goal so we turned away from the East Spanish peak Trail and headed west.

At this point we were not sure if there would be any trail for us to follow so I pulled out my mapping app (Gaia GPS) and made sure that as we hiked up in the dark, we were headed for the correct ridge. This part of the hike involves a lot of bush whacking, stopping to check where you are, then continued bush whacking. Once we made it to tree line, it was a matter of finding the most direct route to the ridge that would take us to the top of West Spanish peak. Be prepared for a long hike along a long ridge. From a distance the ridge looks straight but in actuality its circles around to the top. There are points when it’s pretty steep but levels out. At other times you are hiking slightly downhill. After walking along the ridge, seeing some creepy looking eyes from some animal, and avoiding sheer drop offs on the north side of the mountain, we made it to the summit at 5:15am. Other than a pile of rocks and my mapping software, you wouldn’t know you are at the top in the dark. Not much time to rest since we knew the hike down was going to be rough so after adjusting socks and adding mole skin for a heel blister, we headed back down the ridge as the sun came up.

Initially, the hike down the ridge was easy. We were jogging in some areas. But once we got off the main ridge it got rough. Rocks the size of softballs which were very unstable made it very slow going down the mountain. We would be slowly hiking along and then a rock would shift and flip up and hit in the shin or foot or ankle. It was horrible. And slow. It took us almost as long to get back down to the saddle as it did to get up to the top. We were tired and bruised from the rocks. I was grateful for my Dirty Girls hiking gaiters. They kept most of the small rocks out of my shoes. We couldn’t wait to get back to tree line so we could get off the nasty rocks.

We made it back down to the saddle around 8am, drank some Red Bull’s and took on some calories, then prepared for East Spanish Peak. The trail to the top of this one below tree line is very well marked, just look for the cairns. It get’s real steep real fast but manageable because it was solid ground. Many switch backs in this area. Once to tree line the trail breaks up and you’re back on rocks but these rocks are larger and more stable than West Spanish peak so it was doable. Initially above tree line it’s steep but once it levels out it’s not too bad of a hike at all to the top of the summit. We had read that the summit had a summit book but we couldn’t find one anywhere, just a pile of rocks. We sat next to the pile and reveled in what we had just accomplished. Two peaks, horrible saddle. Done. East Spanish Peak was absolutely bug infested. Hundreds of little flies which would land on us and annoy. This caused us to not stick around too long but we did enjoy it.

Hiking back down was very straightforward. Back down to the saddle then a push right back down the two miles to the trailhead. We made it back to the truck in 10.5 hours after 16.5 miles hiked. Mileage breakdown: 2 miles to the saddle, around 5.5 to West summit, around 9.25 to the saddle, around 12 miles to the East Summit, just short of 15 miles back to the saddle. I’m glad we started early because we would have been out there all day. We both swore to never to back to the ridge on West Spanish peak but even after a week later I would be tempted to go again if one of my sons or another friend wants to go.

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