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Category: Mountaineering

Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Hermit Pass Peaks

Rito Alto Peak & Hermit Peak | Saturday & Sunday, September 4-5, 2021

After spending the last couple days hiking high points in Arizona and New Mexico, it was now time to start heading back home through Colorado, but of course I planned to hike at least a couple more peaks on the way back! As I followed the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north out of New Mexico and into Colorado I thought it would be a good time to hike some peaks in that range since it’s been quite a while since I’ve spent any time there. Originally, I was considering continuing my quest of the The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo by hiking Blanca Peak, but didn’t think that would be a good place to find much solitude now, especially in the middle of a holiday weekend. I think I’ll save the last two Sacred Peaks for a little road trip next summer. Instead, I decided to head up the road to Hermit Pass near Westcliffe so I could not only hike some high 13ers, but also so I could drive up to a pass that I had never been to before. The road was not difficult or dangerous, but it was very bumpy, slow and annoying. I found a place to spend the night above Horseshoe Lake and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing at camp and watching the clouds move through the sky as sunset approached.

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The Highest Peak in New Mexico: Wheeler Peak

Finishing the Four Corners State High Points | Friday & Saturday, September 3-4, 2021

After climbing Humphreys Peak on Thursday, and then spending this morning on Mount Taylor near Grants, it was now finally time to finish off the Four Corner state high points with Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. Following my short visit to the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs near Santa Fe this afternoon, I continued north to Taos and then headed up to the trailhead in the Taos Ski Valley. I was hoping to find a place to spend the night along the way, but the Taos Ski Valley was not really my kind of place to visit and camping options were very limited. Luckily, just before leaving home I had thrown my backpacking gear into the Jeep, just in case, so I thought it would probably be a better idea to just backpack up to Williams Lake in the late afternoon and then hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak first thing in the morning. The weather forecast for the rest of the evening was looking good, so that’s what I decided to do. The hike up to Williams Lake is not very long, just under 2 miles with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so it didn’t take me long to reach the lake, but like the other hikes I had done earlier in the day, it was still very humid out.

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San Mateo Mountain: Mount Taylor & La Mosca

The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo | La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs
Thursday & Friday, September 2-3, 2021

After climbing Humphreys Peak on Thursday morning and then leaving Arizona, I made my way into New Mexico so I could climb the highest peak in the state to complete the Four Corners state high points. But Wheeler Peak would have to wait one more day so I could take a short detour near Grants to hike to the summit of Mount Taylor, which is the Sacred Mountain of the South to the Navajo people (Diné). I’ve actually wanted to hike Mount Taylor ever since I first laid eyes on it last year during our visit to El Malpais National Monument, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so since it was right along the way. It sure feels like I’ve been spending a lot of time in this area lately, but I’m not complaining since I’m really enjoying it! Once I made it to Grants, I stopped for a quick dinner and gas in town and then drove up onto San Mateo Mountain so I could visit the La Mosca Lookout and find a place to camp for the night.

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The Highest Peak in Arizona: Humphreys Peak

Finishing the Four Corners State High Points | The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo
Thursday, September 2, 2021

Last year I took a couple days off from work the week before Labor Day to go on a solo road trip Across the Great Basin and Back and climbed a couple of high peaks in Nevada and California along the way. This year I thought it would be fun to go on another road trip before the Labor Day weekend, but this time my goal was to finish off the high points of the Four Corner states and to begin climbing the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo. Since I have already climbed the highest peaks in Colorado and Utah, this trip would be taking me down to Arizona and New Mexico. Although I’m not interested in climbing the highest point in every state, I do have the desire to climb the highest peaks in the states that I care about, which are primarily just the ones in the southwest. Arizona and New Mexico would be the last of the states I care about since I’ve already climbed the high points of Nevada and California. I suppose I might care about Gannett Peak in Wyoming, but since I know that mountain is out of my league it will most likely never happen. I decided to start my extended weekend road trip with Humphrey’s Peak (12,633) located just outside of Flagstaff, which is part of San Francisco Peaks and the remains of an eroded stratovolcano. Not only is it Arizona’s Highest Peak, but it’s also the Sacred Mountain of the West to the Navajo people (Diné), so I would be killing two birds with one stone on this hike.

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Mountains of Minerals: The San Juan Triangle

Friday – Sunday, August 27-29, 2021

This weekend it was time for me to head back down to the San Juan Mountains near Silverton so I could hike to the summit of a couple new peaks in the area. The San Juan Triangle, which is roughly defined as the area between Ouray, Silverton and Telluride, is one of my absolute favorite places in the state to explore the high country, and over the years I have been working to hike as many of the peaks in the area that I can. This time I was planning to hike Eureka Mountain and California Mountain on Saturday morning since they are both right by each other and pretty much surrounded by other peaks that I have already hiked. I had actually planned to do these hikes a couple of weeks ago, but that trip was cancelled when I was stopped by a mudslide on my way up to Red Mountain Pass, so I was happy to return this weekend.

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