West Spanish Peak: 7 miles and 2,600 ft (Cordova Pass TH)
East Spanish Peak: 9.25 miles and 3,150 ft (Wahatoya TH)
Steve and I were looking for something new and relatively close and decided there were some breasts of the Earth to mount in the southern part of the state. West Spanish is a Bi and East Spanish is a prominent 12er. The two combined make for a nice rack, and with some crazy dikes in the region, we figured we were in for a treat.
We agree to haul a pair of bikes down there just in case the road to East Spanish and the Wahatoya TH was too rough. What we would later come to realize is how many shits the Honey Badger (Steve’s Rav-4) really gives (that would be none). The first objective was West, and we arrived at Cordova Pass just before 8am. To get to this trailhead, just take CO-12 south from CO-160, passing through La Veta and then Cuchara. A couple miles south of Cuchara is Cuchara Pass (9,995 ft), where you take a left directly at the pass and then follow signs for Cordova Pass. Its very simple. The trailhead is located where the campground is and the trail for “West Peak” is across the road.
Ok, that’s enough with the boob talk. We started down the easy West Peak trail and reached the wilderness boundary before reaching a golden meadow with West Spanish looming overhead in the background. A nice intro to the area:
There is a trail all the way through the woods to treeline, and there is no snow to contend with at the moment. The views along the route once you get above treeline are pretty spectacular to the West, with views of the Culebra Massif, Taos and New Mexico’s highpoint – Wheeler Pk to the south, and the bulk of the Sangres to the NW.
One of the more interesting aspects of this area is the decommissioned Cuchara Mountain Ski Resort, due SW of the small town of Cuchara. Built in the 1980’s, this cult following of a small, local ski hill experienced the exchanging of owners numerous times through the years. With 1,600 vert and some moderately interesting terrain in a unique, off the beaten path area, the mountain had potential and some solid ski visionaries made a valiant effort to make the place accomodating. But in the end, a lack of consistent snowfall and isolation buried the mountains chances of survival and it closed its door indefinitely around the year 2000. Rumors of some deals among wealthy Texans have surfaced here and there, but the mountain is still closed. Its tough to keep a mountain going in the Drygres.
Anyways – we could see Cuchara pretty well from West Spanish:
One of the cooler parts of standing atop West Spanish was the view of the Dikes that had formed around the northern flanks of the peaks. I’m not a geologist, so my knowledge of these rock formations are elementary at best, I thought they were just cool to look at, and to avoid any tasteless sexual orientation jokes, here are some pictures of intrusive dikes:
On the descent we admired the Bristlecones….
And more of the Blanca Group over yonder:
After a quick calorie fuel back at the Honey Badger and some cold ones waiting in the snow, we made way for the Wahatoya Trailhead for East Spanish Peak. To get to this cluster f**k of a trailhead, if you are heading south on Route 12, at the south edge of La Veta, just before you veer West towards Cuchara, take a left on to Cucharas St, then a right on to Birch St, which is 360, which you take for a 1/2 mile, then take a left after some reservoirs. After this left, you take your first right, which is still 360, and you follow this for 5 miles or so until you reach some random, hard to find 4wd road, which is in fact a rough road. The only advice to finding this 4wd road is if you’ve gotten to some place called Wahatoya Camp – which looks like a more rustic version of Manson’s Spahn Ranch (Its really cool) – you’ve gone just a little to far.
Anyway, the handy dandy Honey Badger made short work of this road (I wouldn’t recommend driving any kind of Subaru up this thing though).
Anyways, with quickly fading light and some grumbling bellies, we hustled up ESP. Here’s the route in a nutshell:
1 – Find this trail junction
2 – Hike up this talus hump of shit
3 – Enjoy this view
4 – Feast here
Here’s the actual route map:
Thanks for reading.