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Short backpack in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo's

John B

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Last September, a friend and I were defeated in a quest to climb Venable peak (13,334) and Comanche peak (13,277) due to weather. We planned a return this year. Unfortunately, my friend wasn't able to join me this past weekend for a return engagement. Decided to go ahead and dash down for a quick backpack into the area. Needed to test out a couple of new pieces of equipment in any event (seems there's always something to buy!). I left my home Saturday in the front range (Denver area) at 6am, had a bit of a detour due to a section of US 285 closed due to flooding--Colorado has been blessed with historic (for us) amounts of rain this May and early June. Arrived at the North Crestone creek trailhead at 12:20--this is near the town of Crestone, and in spitting distance of the Great Sand Dunes National park. Left trailhead at 12:40 at an elevation of 8900 feet. Packed in about 5 3/4 miles to a nice campsite at 11,500 feet. As I had hoped and expected, the snow had retreated as summer is upon us. Had a relaxing dinner, and was put to sleep by the white noise of the stream 50 feet from my tent.

Was up at 5:45am Sunday, and after a leisurely breakfast, left camp at 6:40am. The trail to the crest of the Sangre de Cristo's was easy, and well maintained. I ran into a few isolated stretches of snow, but easily avoided them. Here's conditions at 12,300 feet:


Summited Comanche at 10:45 under beautiful blue Colorado skies. I was testing out my new Osprey Atmos 50L pack--don't think I will be using anything else for backpacking, as it performed beautifully. I will have more to say in the gear section as I gave a brief report on this pack a month or so ago, but had not had a chance to test it with a full load. Here's a shot of some of the Sangre's:


After spending a relaxing time on Comanche's summit, returned to my camp, had lunch, broke camp and was back at my vehicle by 1:30pm. The only downer of the trip was the mosquitoes--they aren't generally a big problem in Colorado, but they were this past weekend--must have had the bad luck to be in the area right after a big hatch. They were annoying, but not totally vicious. Didn't spoil my trip. After fighting the traffic on I-70, was back home by 7pm Sunday night. Here is a link to all of the photo's (enjoy!):



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Aaron Zagrodnick

Sounds like a great trip John and really nice photos! Great to hear the pack is working out. The mosquitoes are out here as well, decided to chance it without repellent on a trip a couple weeks ago, never again unless it's actually winter for me here in the Winds. Was confined to the tent and rain gear most of the trip in defense. :D

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