Fantastic snowshoe outing in the Wet Mountains today.
St. Charles Peak
(from trailhead on hwy 165 near Bishop’s Castle)
+3,000 feet of vertical (~9,000’ to 11,800’ with a few down-and-ups)
Pueblo to TH: 50 minutes
Lots of new snow on the trail today, but the sun was out and the temps were in the 50s. I had both the Microspikes and MSR snowshoes strapped onto the UD pack.
I’m officially in love with this trail. Last time, we were just getting to know each other but after today I’m smitten. Since last week’s snow (Wednesday) I’m guessing there have been three people (at most) on the trail. Just enough folks (with snowshoes) to create a trench to guide my way and make trail-finding easy except for one or two spots. The beauty of snowshoeing is that, if it’s your first time on a route, you’re almost sure to not get turned-around/lost if you simply follow your footprints home. (#duh)
Not a soul within probably 10 miles of me today. The trail reminded me a lot of the northside of Hope Pass on the LT100 course, steady and steep. I enjoyed the switchbacks through pine forests. The other great thing about St. Charles Peak is that only the last 100 yards or so are above treeline, making this an ideal winter outing—no worries of avalanche or too much wind. Great combo of solitude-climbing-altitude.
Used the Microspikes until about halfway-up, then strapped on the SSs for the rest of the day. The last ¼ mile up was a bit tricky, as the prints I followed went in three different directions, each taking a line that was quite steep. By that point though I was aware of which direction I needed to head, so followed the most logical line to the top.
All at once I was treated to an incredible view of the Sangres—the massive 14,000 foot wall guarding the Sand Dunes and the Valley below it. Pikes Peak was magnificent to the north.
I was only able to enjoy the view for a few minutes as the wind was howlin’. Got a few decent shots though. Made the ascent in a slow-ish 2 hours (took my time, stopped a lot) and cruised thru the powder on the descent, making it back to Larry in just a tad over an hour. 3:15 roundtrip, give’r take.
Definitely will return to this area—less than an hour from town and great trifecta opp (solitude-climbing-altitude). Great summer route I’m sure too.