Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Colorado Trail 2011 - Part 3, Buena Vista to Creede

Heading out of Buena Vista, and back to the official CT, was via Highway 306 and then a mixture of tracks and roads around Mt Princeton.  Mt Princeton is known for its hot springs and a resort has grown up round it. For the hiker it has a useful store. 

All hikes have their low points and on the CT it was the roads around Mt Princeton.  Fortunately by the afternoon things had improved. 

A long hard climb onto the Divide from Foose's Creek was soon rewarded with wonderful early morning vistas.

And another view of the Divide.

Crossing the Cochetopa Creek. I remembered seeing this bridge on Cookie and Paul's epic trail film of their CDT hike. In my opinion this is the finest trail film ever made and I recommend you sit down with the full 2hr version. 

So far all the optional +14000ft peaks near the CT had beaten me. I've been arriving too late in the afternoon to risk climbing them with the afternoon electrical storms. Once you leave the tree-line you have no protection from the storms and you would be taking an enormous risk trying to summit. San Luis Peak (4271m) was my last chance and is also one of the least climbed of the Colorado Peaks over 14000ft. Sounded ideal. My plan was to arrive at its base the night before and camp near the tree-line. Shortly after dawn I started the climb.

The trail was obvious but hard going at this altitude. Shortly after starting I had to skirt round a Moose that was blocking my path and refused to move. Moose can be very dangerous if spooked so I kept well away. At 14000ft you only have around 40-60% of your normal oxygen and it makes the climb very slow. Even moving slowly I'm gasping for air with every step.

The summit was reached just after 8am on the 24th Aug. San Luis Peak at 4271m is the highest I have ever climbed and it felt like quite an achievement.

On the summit.

Descending off the summit back to the CT.

The views from San Luis were spectacular in all directions.

Still heading back down to San Luis pass which the CT crosses. The trail is just visible in the photo.

And down towards Creede. The road to Creede passes many old mines. These old structures are all wooden and really quite pretty in an industrial kind of way. Unfortunately most of them are in the process of falling down, or already have, something this special should be protected.

Creede is a lovely town and my favourite of the whole trail. Full of charm and character. Has all you could want from a trail town including an outdoor store and a theatre!

Continue on to part 4