When I originally moved to Colorado, I had far reaching views of the Sangres from a Cottonwood Peak all the way to the Crestones, taking in more than 20 miles of the range and countless peaks. This was the inspiration for many of my early hikes in Colorado.
Two peaks that have been on my radar since I moved to Colorado are Electric and Lakes Peaks. Electric Peak, at 13,598', is the highest peak in the northern part of the Sangres north of Rito Alto Peak. It's visible from much of the Wet Mountain Valley and can be seen from many other peaks in the Sangres. Lakes Peak is a little more hidden from the Wet Mountain Valley but stands less than 2 miles from Electric Peak. On a previous hike, I was within a mile of Lakes Peak but passed it by as it was in the wrong direction on a nearly 20 mile day that already climbed 5 summits.
Up until this trip, every outing I have made in the Sangres began on the east side of the range. I already live on the east side and this makes hiking here convenient. Unfortunately access on the east isn't easy with limited trailheads. The route to Electric and Lakes from the east featured a long approach that probably would have exceeded 20 miles that didn't seem too encouraging..
With summer winding down, I didn't want another year to slip by and miss climbing these two mountains. I decided to tackle the peaks from the west side of the range from the San Luis Valley. The San Luis Valley has more trailheads than the east side. The only problem is to reach these trailheads, I have to drive completely around the northern part of the range since there are no roads through the Sangres.
I originally planned this hike last week. A very active monsoon was in place however and thunderstorms were pretty much a given. To make it a little more interesting, many of these storms were dropping snow at higher elevations. Early season snow dustings tend to be quite nasty. Sparse coverage of rocks can make travel treacherous, especially off trail.
A week passed and the small amounts of snow at elevation appeared to have melted. The day after Labor Day looked promising. My destination was the Major Creek Trailhead, just south of Villa Grove, Colorado. Even though I was at the trailhead before 630AM, it was just barely light. A few miles before the trailhead, I saw a lone bull Elk along the road.
|The mountains before the sun crossed the ridge|
near the beginning of my hike
|Rock features along the trail|
|Looking up the Major Creek valley|
|Entering a meadow|
|An earlier view of the alpine terrain|
|Talus field below Lakes Peak|
|Entering the upper basin|
|Looking toward Lakes Peak|
|I climbed the ridge to left of the jagged section|
|Climbing higher in the upper basin|
|Looking across Lakes Peak|
|Making my way up the ridge|
|Looking back down the ridge I climbed|
|Heading toward Niedhardt|
|Mt Niedhardt at the end of the ridge|
|Lakes Peak in the distance from the Niedhardt-Electric ridge|
|Lakes Peak with Cottonwood in the back left|
|Making my way toward Electric Peak|
|The Crestones beyond Rito Alto Peak|
|De Anza (center) and Gibbs Peaks (Left)|
|Looking back at Mt Niedhardt|
|Eagle Peak with the North Brush Basin in the foreground|
|Another look at the distant Crestones beyond Rito Alto|
|Eagle Peak with Wulsten Baldy beyond|
|The tundra is looking like autumn with Lakes|
Peak and Cottonwood Peak behind it
|A closeup of the Crestones and Kit Carson|
with the Blanca group in the distance
|Flat tundra below Electric Peak, the tiny bump|
ahead is UN 13,220
|Looking back at Electric|
|Another clear view toward the Crestone Group|
|Looking into the North Brush Basin|
|Lakes Peak with Cottonwood back left, Eagle Peak far right,|
and Wulsten Baldy beyond Eagle
|A good look at Lakes Peak from UN 13,220|
|A closeup of UN 13,220|
|UN 13,220 looks intimidating from the north|
|Lakes Peak from Electric Pass|
|Cottonwood Peak beyond Thirsty Peak from Lakes's summit|
|Wulsten Baldy on the left and Eagle Peak on the right|
|North from Lakes Peak|
|Looking at the peaks I climbed earlier from Lakes Peak. UN 13,220|
in the foreground, Electric Peak above it to the left, and
Mt Niedhardt at the end of the ridge to the right.
|Yet another look at the Crestones coming down Lakes Peak|
|UN 13,220 with Electric Peak behind it|
|Looking east from Electric Pass|
|Looking down the Major Creek drainage|
|The jagged stretch below the ridge I originally climbed|
|Descending from Electric Pass|
|Arch in the rock outcropping|
|Two arches in the same outcropping|
|Mt lion leftovers?|
|More random bones|
|Odd decaying rabbit carcass|
|One last look at UN 13,220 near the trailhead|
|Looking into the San Luis Valley|
I'm glad I finally got to climb these two peaks. This hike was in the works for a long time now. I'm already concocting new trip ideas in the future in the Sangre de Cristos. It seems like you can't pick a bad destination in the Sangres.
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