With one of the nicest high pressure systems of the summer hanging over Colorado, Brian and I decided to take a day off work and head south for a leisure hike up a duo of peaks that had eluded us earlier in the year.
Spread Eagle Peak (13,423 ft) sits in the middle of the range just north of Hermit Pass and bicentennial Rito Alto Peak. It’s immediate neighbor to the southwest, UN 13,524 (aka Peak of the Clouds), combines nicely with a climb of Spread Eagle via a short, mellow ridge. We decided to go for both, and make a loop out of the day using Gibson Creek as our ascent route and Swift Creek as our descent. It worked out well and made for a fun day out there.
We camped at Gibson Creek Trailhead the night prior and instead of enduring the ravaging winds of May, experienced a nice (albeit cold) night in Brian’s new 112 pound, 47 person Eureka tent. With somewhere in the vicinity of 300 square feet of floor space, the three of us (Jax being our third) had plenty of room to spread out.
In the morning we got going just before sunrise up the Gibson Creek trail. This trail meanders about and is easy to lose (which we did for awhile), but ultimately winds west up through the valley to the northern foot of Spread Eagle’s east ridge.
We broke treeline to a warm, windless, sunny day. Probably the single best day I’ve hiked on all year to be honest. Lots of reds, browns, and yellows painted the landscape. As the years go by I’ve come to appreciate fall in the Rockies more and more. There’s a beauty about it that isn’t common to the other seasons.
From the summit we picked our way down the ridge line towards Peak of the Clouds, a particularly aesthetic peak in my opinion. The easy ridge afforded us ample glances over at Rito Alto and Hermit Peaks, which had a nice dusting of white on them to compliment the golden brown hue.
We hung out for awhile on 13,524’s summit and soaked in the views, which never seem to get old in the Sangres. Rito Alto looked close and I told Brian to run over and get it if he wanted to. He resisted the urge, which was probably for the best as Rito Alto is a breeze from Hermit Pass (provided you don’t have to enter concussion protocol after driving up the road).
Off the saddle to the north we worked our way down the talus and eventually came upon the Lakes of the Clouds trio. Once on the trail we were able to cruise out of Swift Creek on down to the Rainbow Trail.
A short jaunt south on the Rainbow Trail had us back to Gibson Creek and the end of our hike. We were happy to find that Brian’s tent had not blown 300 yards down the road and landed in a Lutheran Camp this time around.
With nothing but clear days and 70 degree temps continuing into October as far out as the forecast will go, I wonder if another day out like this one might be in store. Any ideas anyone?