Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Humboldt Peak - 14,064

The Crestone group from State Highway 69, Labor Day 2009 (Humboldt on the right).

May I just sing a brief ode of praise to my hammock? Ever since a frigid January bivouac on the shores of a frozen Williams Lake below Wheeler Peak in the late 90s I have sworn never again to lay out my pad on bare snow. Hennessey has helped me make good on this vow with its neat little pod that can be strung anywhere there are two trees (so far I have never lacked for any). Mine is one of the early models, in forest green and packable to about the size of the sleeping pad you will not need (because there is no conductive heat loss, a mere space blanket slung underneath will serve to reflect body heat). Newer models weigh even less and come in more vibrant colors, but all have the slit in the bottom where you climb in and, once inside, your body weight closes the gap behind you. It has its drawbacks. You can't cook inside it, for example, nor really eat. But with a little preparation you can spend a cozy night anywhere. Here is my hammock stretched across the South Crest Trail in the Sandias back in March of 2001. (Hennessey should pay me for the endorsement).

A bright full moon lit my making camp on the shore of Lower South Colony Lake on Saturday of this Labor Day weekend. Stringing my hammock between two stout pines brought a pleasant solitude in contrast to the packed parking lot below, until dawn cracked and a line formed threading through the upper meadows toward the West Ridge of Humboldt. A quantity of rock cairns mark the trail to the summit.

On the way down I passed the turnoff leading to the high saddle between Kit Carson and Crestone Peak that is known as the Bear's Playground. It had been in the back of my mind to take in the Peak as well on this outing, but given the poor visibility this option seemed better left for later.

A socked-in Crestone Peak and Needle that Saturday, September 6, 2009

Some people manage to bag all four Crestone 14ers, if not in one day then at least in two. I, on the other hand, seem destined to spread them out over thirty-odd years. Back down at South Colony Lakes I moved my hammock to a more congenial spot for the night, and the following morning headed back down the road to my truck. What lies ahead? More tidying up of loose ends: Crestone Peak, of course, via the NW Buttress. I'll get to it sooner or later....

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