Peak(s):  Columbia Point  -  13,980 feet
"Obstruction Pk"  -  13,799 feet
"Kitty Kat Carson"  -  13,980 feet
Date Posted:  09/03/2019
Date Climbed:   08/30/2019
Author:  WildWanderer
 Ridge in the Dark  

Columbia Point – 13,980, “Obstruction Peak” – 13,799, & “Kitty Kat Carson” 13,980

19758_01



RT Length – 14.5 miles

Elevation Gain – 5304’

It’s officially High School Football season which means late Thursday/Friday night games. Luckily for me my daughter performs at half time and can drive herself home so I was able to get in 2 hours of sleep before waking up at midnight to drive to the trailhead.

And what a drive it was! This is my 6th or 7th time at the South Colony Lakes Trailhead, and the last 3 miles were the worst I’ve ever seen them. The drainpipe was actually one of the easier parts. Because of the rough road I drove a little slower than I normally would and wasn’t on the trail until 2:30am. (Sorry, these pictures are of the easier areas, as I needed both hands on the wheel to navigate the tougher ones).

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One side of the parking lot was completely full: I was the first to park on the opposite side.

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I followed the South Colony Lakes trail, which starts at the west end of the parking area

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There’s a register to sign and then immediately I crossed a bridge and headed left (west) along an old 4WD road that’s no longer maintained.

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There were a few mud puddles here and some running water, but nothing that actually got my boots wet.

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After hiking for 2.6 miles I came to this junction and went right to follow the Humboldt Peak / South Colony Trail.

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Here the road ends and it actually becomes a trail, crossing a few minor bridges and a small boulder area

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before entering the South Colony Lakes Basin. Here the willows were overgrown and made the trail ‘fun’ to follow at night (spiderwebs).

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In the daylight it’s easy to see where you’re headed: Follow the well defined Humboldt Trail to the saddle of PT 13,290 and Humboldt

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Making it to the saddle was straightforward, but here the trail ended. I turned west (left)and continued on towards point 13,290

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I followed the ridge to the top of the point

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From here you can see the rest of the route up to “Obstruction Peak”, but I couldn’t because it was still dark

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This ridge is NOT fun to cross in the dark. I wasn’t able to see much of what was ahead of me, which made route finding tricky. I also couldn’t tell how much exposure there was, which was positive at times. I mentally wished for my helmet and just stuck to the ridge, doing my best to anticipate the proper route and backtracking and trying again when necessary. On my way back I could clearly see a class 2+ path, but in the dark it was slow going.

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Here’s the ridge

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After crossing the ridge I crossed a relatively flat area known as “Bears Playground” and headed northwest up towards “Obstruction Peak” first over tundra and then rocky areas

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It was actually difficult to tell exactly where the summit of “Obstruction Peak” was so I decided to make it to the ridge early and just walk across the entire ridge. I’m pretty sure the true summit is at the most westerly point.

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I summited at 6:45am

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“Obstruction Peak”:

As I turned and looked east I could see the sunrise

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From the summit of “Obstruction Peak” the path to “Kitty Kat Carson” and “Colombia Point” was clear

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I hiked down “Obstruction Peak” towards “Kitty Kat Carson”. The ridge down was rocky but stable

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Once at the saddle “Kitty Kat Carson” looked imposing, but wasn’t too much of a challenge. There were a lot of cairns here, especially towards the top, which made them useless. I stayed to the right for most of the ridge, and then headed left to summit

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The terrain here was classic Crestone: lots of steep, grippy rock

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I summited “Kitty Kat Carson” at 7:28am

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“Kitty Kat Carson”:

It took me less than 10 minutes to traverse from “Kitty Kat Carson” over to Columbia Point, losing about 50’ in elevation and then regaining it back. This was all class 2+ climbing

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I summited Columbia Point at 7:39am

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Columbia Point:

There’s a plaque at the summit commemorating the crew of the shuttle Columbia

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Here’s looking back on “Kitty Kat Carson”

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Time to head back. Here’s the route towards “Kitty Kat Carson”

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And down the saddle and back up to “Obstruction Peak”

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Once at “Obstruction Peak” I made my way back down Bears Playground and over to the ridge. That had been quite a time in the dark!

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I was so glad to be able to see the route in the daylight. I didn’t need to stick to the ridge the entire time, and mainly stuck to the left/north when I wasn’t on top of the ridge. I found this was a rather quick traverse when I could see what was in front of me.

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What took longer than I’d remembered was the hike down from Point 13290 and back to the Humboldt Saddle

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Here’s the route to the South Colony Lakes area

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The hike back was rather uneventful. I saw over a dozen hikers and was reminded how popular the 14er trails are. I stopped and talked to several people intent on Humboldt, and even saw a few friends intent on some of the other 14ers. I was in a rush though: I had to be home by 2pm to take my daughter camping, which meant I had to make it back to the trailhead no later than 11:35am. It was a beautiful day and I wasn’t carrying a full pack so I was able to hike pretty quickly. I made it to the bridge crossing and saw some raspberries.

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I decided to try one: it was sour, and unfortunately not as good as the ones from Purgatory, so I only ate one and left the rest for woodland creatures to enjoy. I made it back to the trailhead at 11:30am, making this a 14.5 mile hike with 5304’ in elevation gain in just under 9 hours. The best part (besides making it home at 1:58pm)? No mosquitoes!!!

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