Day 4 Colorado 2015

Today we left the Leadville Hostel for the South Colony Lake in the Sangre de Cristo range.  Before leaving Leadville, we stopped off at the Golden Burro CafĂ© and Jeff treated us to breakfast. “Last real meal before the wilderness” Jeff said…..

I think this is Mt. Princeton of the Sawatch Mountain Range

I'm sure you can relate ...... !

At the lower parking lot (8,770 ft) 
Mt. Humboldt in the upper left.

Our drive took us through Salida where we stopped off at the Walmart Supercenter for last minute snacks and drinks. When we finally got to the Lower South Colony Trailhead at 8,770ft (lower parking lot), Jeff explained that we wouldn’t be able to get the Suburban up to the upper trailhead at 9,810 feet. The road section to the upper parking lot is steeper and rougher and there are several holes at least a foot and a half deep. 

At the Upper Parking Lot. 

I’ll be honest. I really wasn’t looking forward to the hike into South Colony Lake from the lower parking lot. But I found it easy once I warmed up and my breathing became easy to pace. Once at the Upper parking lot we took our packs off and rested for a few minutes taking in food and water. 

Checking out the emergency access road

The trail starts off at the left of these trailhead signs

Jeff signing in
See how big his pack is?!

On our way

We started up again and the trail got rockier. It follows a jeep road to a junction and at the junction we took our packs off again and rested a bit and checked out more signs.

Jeff decided to take the left loop instead of the right. The right loop is shorter, but it crosses a brook and Jeff didn’t know how high the water would be. The left loop is twice as long as the right loop, but it’s not as steep. 

Shortly after the junction there is another gate
at 11,020 feet.  (For emergency access). I think
this was a parking lot in the past but it's now closed. 
From here it's 1.5 miles to the first campsite.

The weather turned colder and there were a few sprinkles. With just a half mile left to the campsite area, I started slowing down. My breathing was fine, but my pack felt really heavy and my shoulders were aching under the shoulder straps. Don’t know what Jeff’s pack weighed, but every chance he got, he’d find a rock to sit on to get the pack weight off his back. With just an eighth of a mile left to the campsite, Geoff and Kevin II came back and took my packs and Jeff’s ropes. Kevin I who also had a heavy pack, was exhausted as well.

We decided on the first campsite we had come across. It had a brook which made for a convenient water source and was well sheltered with trees. Our beautiful campsite (at 11,600 ft) with Mt. Humboldt in the background..

We quickly set up our tents, got the water purifier going, hung a food bag in a tree and then started prepping for dinner. Jeff was too tired to eat so he went to bed without eating dinner. I was also tired and could barely eat. I ended up only eating several spoonfuls of my boiling-water-in-the-bag dinner.  

Having heavy packs didn't seem too bad since we thought we'd originally be hiking from the upper parking lot to the campsites (3.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1700 feet). But since we didn't have the right vehicle to make the rough drive to the upper lot, we had to park the car in the lower lot. It turned our hike to a little over 7 miles with over 3000 feet of elevation gain. We were all exhausted and looked forward to a good night sleep and an “easy day” tomorrow.

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