When my brother and I left JPFreek’s second annual staff gathering in Divide, Colorado on Sunday July 25th, our destination was the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountain range to climb a challenging 14,000′ peak: Humboldt Peak.
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We arrived in the town of Westcliffe at 4:45pm and went to a hiking store to try and buy some rope for a bear bag but they had no rope (you serious?). We ended up finding 100ft of twine at the grocery store for $5.99 which was “Niiiice!”
So we headed out of Westcliffe and arrived at the 2WD trailhead for South Colony Lakes at 5:30pm. Originally, I was going to abandon the Subaru at this trailhead and hop in with Dom in his Grand Cherokee up the 4WD trail. After talking with some folks who were coming down, they said any stock 4×4 would be able to make the drive so I decided to take Becky’s Forester up the trail (in hindsight it was not the best decision but a good test). We arrived at the 4WD trailhead at 6pm, and we began packing our gear for the two days of backcountry camping. From the gate of the 4WD trailhead, it was going to be a two mile walk up a steep Jeep trail to get to the former 4WD trailhead (Forest service closed it down and moved the gate lower because of overuse and vehicles breaking axles). After we reached the old 4WD trailhead, we still had to walk another 1.5 miles to South Colony Lakes, and possibly another .5 miles to find a suitable campsite.
I was miserable hiking up this road with my day pack stuffed with at least 50lbs of gear. I had a 10 pound food bag in one hand and a gallon of Gatorade in the other. My traps were yelling at me by the time we reached the old 4WD trailhead and Dom was hurting too, but he was a warrior. I was starting to complain and be whiney, but Dom knew we needed to get up to upper South Colony Lakes to score a great site and used his motivation to keep me going. The misery finally subsided at 8:45pm when we found a suitable campsite. I was exhausted and Dom immediately went to set up the tent and get chow ready. After Dom set up the tent, I laid out my Thermarest mattress, sleeping bag, and pillow and caught 20 winks.
While Dom was focused on camp and me resting in the tent, we started hearing yells from people and the sound was not very distant. At first we were like, “What is going on? Someone have a bear run-in or something?”