South Colony Lakes overnight

Wanderlust073

Member
.
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
838
I wanted to get out this weekend for a night or two, and had originally intended to head back to Missouri Gulch and tackle some 14ers down there that the weather chased me away from last summer. Then I remembered @Shirt357 talking about South Colony Lakes and as I looked at some recent pictures the Sangres were definitely looking a lot better than the Sawatch area as far as being lush, green and beautiful. So off I went.

As I neared the town of Westcliffe I was a little disappointed to see that smoke from the various wildfires in NM and CO was hazing out the views. Fortunately you're so up close and personal once in the basin, it didn't really impact the views at all.

The forecast called for 80 degree sunny days and it was absolutely an awesome morning for hiking. After a 30 minute two-mile drive up a hellacious road from the lower parking area to the 4x4 parking area at 9900 feet, I started hiking in. The first few miles are a now-closed jeep road which was, ironically, in much better shape than the road I drove up on.

The views get good pretty quick...

5T5A7898.jpg


South Colony Creek was flowing decently given how parched this area of the state is. Trout larger than my forearm were circling lazily near the rocks.

5T5A7906.jpg


Half the hike threads itself between stretches of privately owned land, but then you hook over in to the basin proper and cross in to the Sangre de Cristo wilderness. It looks more like August than June already down there.

5T5A7915.jpg


More hiking, more elevation. Eventually the trail turns rocky and then crosses a talus field under the slopes of Humboldt Peak as it nears the lakes area.

5T5A7923.jpg


5T5A7945.jpg


Broken Hand Peak from the south.

5T5A7927.jpg


Crestone Needle looming behind the talus.

5T5A7933.jpg



5T5A7947.jpg


You can see how dry things are for early June. No snow, no mud. A little bit of trickling water here and there are maybe 20 feet of mud on the trail as it rounded the lower lake. I'm glad I made this trip given how things have been going in Colorado lately...

5T5A7953.jpg


About 4 miles in and here's the lower lake with Broken Hand rising behind it.

5T5A7968.jpg


Crestone Needle behind the northern end of the lake. A bit further yet to go.

5T5A7972.jpg


5T5A7981.jpg


Vanity shot right before the upper lake.

5T5A7983.jpg


Winds had been picking up as the elevation increased. When I reached the upper lake they were roaring pretty good. I was surprised to see I had good cell signal in here, so I checked the forecast which promised the winds would dissipate at sunset and tomorrow would be another bluebird skies day perfect for some peak bagging.

I wandered around a bit to try and find a spot with some sort of a wind break and set up camp.

Looking back down the valley from camp.

5T5A7991.jpg


Every time I think about pulling the trigger on a 2-man tent, the 1-man reminds me how nice it is to be able to fit the thing in just about any nook or cranny that presents itself.

5T5A7997.jpg


View from the front porch.

5T5A8002.jpg


Windier and winder and clouds starting to blow in.

5T5A8021.jpg


Not much of a sunset, but some nice golden light falling on the peaks.

5T5A8042.jpg


Contrary to the forecast the winds became much, much worse throughout the night. Sleeping was impossible and I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I'd be getting a new tent after all as I was certain the poles were going to snap.

What to do in the middle of the night? Thankfully most of the clouds had blown out... There are worse things in life than a windy night at 12000 feet under skies like this.

5T5A8098.jpg


I "woke up" at 5am, realizing that climbing was out but hoping for a good sunrise. This area is supposed to offer one of the quintessential alpenglow photo ops in the state, but sadly it was gray skies all around. The basin offers climbing but little else as it is small and you are completely hemmed in by the surrounding peaks, so there was nothing for it but to pack up and head out.

Good to get out and dust off the gear, and I plan to make a return trip to tackle the 14ers another time.

google.earth.jpg


Trip vid:

 
Last edited:

Wanderlust073

Member
.
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
838
Too many Subarus trying to drive up higher on the road than they should :)

I was surprised there were no subaru corpses on the way up, lol. Actually got to use 4-low and crawl mode driving back out.
 

IntrepidXJ

ADVENTR
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,390
BTW- What prevented you from climbing a peak in the morning? Too tired from lack of sleep or was it weather?

I assume you were going to do Humboldt?
 

b.stark

Forever Wandering
.
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
831
Very nice overnight. Last year in June I had the opportunity to do an overnight to Lower Sand Creek Lake. Planning to make it back to the Sangres sometime, but not sure when. Was going to try this month, but it does not look like that will work out, so I may have to wait until fall.
 

Wanderlust073

Member
.
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
838
BTW- What prevented you from climbing a peak in the morning? Too tired from lack of sleep or was it weather?

I assume you were going to do Humboldt?

Humboldt yeah, and the wind was knocking me around just standing outside my tent.

Talked to a couple guys who made it up Crestone Needle. They said they barely made it over Broken Hand Pass because of the wind, but that it was bearable on the summit. Guess my risk tolerance has aged along with the rest of me, but I assumed things would only be worse higher up.
 

Wanderlust073

Member
.
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
838
Very nice overnight. Last year in June I had the opportunity to do an overnight to Lower Sand Creek Lake. Planning to make it back to the Sangres sometime, but not sure when. Was going to try this month, but it does not look like that will work out, so I may have to wait until fall.

Hit me up if you're looking for company.
 

Miya

Because I am able.
.
Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
1,231
Too many Subarus trying to drive up higher on the road than they should :)

Haha probably would have been me. At least try in my subaru now instead of my Ford Fusion. I put that thing through hell and got lucky I never got stranded.
 

Miya

Because I am able.
.
Joined
Dec 31, 2017
Messages
1,231
Looks peaceful! Although, looks like you had to earn it, nice gain in a short stretch. Thanks for sharing!
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
wsp_scott Honey Creek (Big South Fork) Backpacking 5
Chuck the Mauler Sierra North Lake / South Lake "loop" questions Trip Planning 10
wsp_scott Big South Fork Views Backpacking 14
S Conejos - South San Juan Wilderness Backpacking 2
Jammer Sequoia: Upper Kern and Lake South America Backpacking 12
kwc Chimney Mountain, South Central Adirondacks Hiking & Camping 3
kwc Hiking in the South Central Adirondacks Hiking & Camping 1
I Water in Frisky Creek south of Highway 12 in the Grand Staircase? Trip Planning 0
K Floating down South Fork of the Snake (ID) Trip Planning 1
regehr Dirty Devil South Trip Reports 8
Nick Coyote Buttes South - Jan 18, 2020 Trip Planning 1
TrailScot Quite the Adventure, South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 4 Backpacking 17
TrailScot Quite the Adventure, South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 3 Backpacking 8
TrailScot Quite the Adventure - South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 2 Backpacking 14
TrailScot Quite the Adventure - South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 1 Backpacking 10
regehr south waterpocket fold backpack Trip Planning 27
Titans Prescribed burn South Monroe Mountain- photos from Capitol Reef area Photography 0
Chuck the Mauler North Lake - South Lake questions Trip Planning 4
tropicalwanderer YNP : 8/31-9/7 : Heart Lake to Nine Mile via CDT, South Boundary and Thorofare Trip Planning 9
LarryBoy Going South this Weekend? Meet Up (Members Only) 4
I Zion-South Utah Spring Break - March 9th-March 14th Trip Planning 15
Born to Hike Windriver 36 mile loop: Skull Lake, Washakie Pass, South Fork Lakes, Lizard Head Trail, The Cirque, Big Sandy Lake Backpacking 6
D South Coyote Buttes. We are going to put in at Lone Tree Reservoir because we don't have 4wd but we want to make it to White Pocket. Trip Planning 30
WasatchWill South Draw Loop Off Road 3
fossana South Guardian Angel (Zion NP, UT) Hiking & Camping 3
balzaccom South Lake Blew us away Backpacking 4
Perry Old South Skyline Trail - Ogden Canyon Trip Planning 1
pixie1339 White Pocket, South Coyote Buttes Advice Trip Planning 11
KevinBoyer South Lake to North Lake Sierra Nevada Trip Planning 4
Jackson South Guardian Angel Hiking & Camping 12
Curt Badlands National Park, South Dakota Backpacking 14
fiber Wind River Range, South - Sept 2-6, 2017 Backpacking 13
Jackson Southern Absarokas - Cub Creek and South Buffalo Fork Backpacking 9
wsp_scott Packrafting the Big South Fork (KY) On The Water 7
John Goering Tobacco Root Mountains South Willow Creek-Camp Creek Reservoir day hike Hiking & Camping 2
Outdoor_Fool Yellowstone - 9 Mile Post to South Entrance Backpacking 1
K TR: 4/14 - 4/16 Nice Little Valley south of Mammoth Lakes,CA Backpacking 2
D Coyote Buttes South Paw Hole or Cottonwood Cove (or both) Trip Planning 3
Aries_Ranger South Winds Advice... Trip Planning 4
wsp_scott Big South Fork (KY) Backpacking 3
Ugly Mill B South Backpacking 8
SteveR Happy Canyon and Coyote Buttes South questions Trip Planning 4
westy Sierra South - SEKI, Rock Creek aka Miter Basin Backpacking 5
John Goering Tobacco Root Mountains, South Willow Creek-Granite Lake Hiking & Camping 0
WasatchWill Revisiting South Thunder Mountain Backpacking 6
Joey Backpacking Yellowstone's Snake River, Heart Lake, and South Boundary Trail Backpacking 13
John Goering South Boulder River (Tobacco Root Mountains) day hikes. Hiking & Camping 8
chandlerwest South Coyote Buttes - Paw Hole Hiking & Camping 13
CaptnKidd Solo Trek Down South, Advice? Trip Planning 8
Laura South Pacific! Everything Else 11

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top