Marla and me goofing off on Challenger Point (14,081′) for a free Which Wich sandwich.
Part one of a three part Sangre De Cristo series.
With some miles and vertical feet under our belts this season, we ventured into the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness last week. The goal was to combine backpacking and climbing, while adding a few fourteener summits. We started out in the town of Crestone, hard against the Sangre De Cristo Range in the San Luis Valley. The Willow Lake Trail gains 2,800 feet in five miles and is basecamp for the standard climbing route to Challenger Point (14,081′) and Kit Carson Mountain (14,163′). I wish I could say it was a piece of cake (that would be a load of crap) but it was a lot of fun and it’s gratifying to reach new heights in the Sangres. My photo essay follows, just click here:
Marla gearing up at the Willow Creek Trailhead.
A weathered sign marking the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness Area.
Marla digs in on a steep section of the Willow Creek hike.
Early Light on Kit Carson Mountain (14,163′) as we ascended the vertical grassy slopes.
Marla considers the challenge of reaching Challenger Point (14,081′), painted in golden sunlight.
Crestone Peak (14,294′) and Crestone Needle (14,191″) look unclimbable in this view from the Challenger Point (14,081′) summit. The foreground rock is the prow on Kit Carson Mountain.
From Challenger Point (14,081′) the town of Crestone appears to be directly below our feet, an indication of just how vertical the Sangres really are.
Marla ascends “Kit Carson Avenue.”
A pair of ravens at nearly 14,000 feet on the “prow” of Kit Carson Mountain.
We had been talking about Kit Carson for the last decade and neither of us can believe that we finally summitted this magnificent peak, our 42nd 14’er together. After getting down safely, we hiked down to Crestone the next day and ate well at Shambala Cafe, with a full-on hippy vibe. From there, we drove down-valley to Zapata Ranch, which will be the next post in this three part Sangre De Cristo journey. Stop back for parts two and three 🙂