Great Sand Dunes National Park

& Mount Elbert, Colorado

When:

June 23rd - 26th 2006

Where:

Colorado

 

Attendees:

Lots of folks...

 

Links:

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mt Elbert Trail Information

 



After I returned from my Brazil trip, I had plans to meet up with several friends in Colorado to hike Mount Elbert.

 

Having just flown over 7000 miles a few days earlier, I was tired, but always up for a new adventure, so I loaded the truck and took off on Friday!

 

I drove up to Great Sand Dunes National park to camp. I've always wanted to check that place out and this was a good chance to do that.

 

There were two fires burning in southern Colorado at the time, things are dry here in the southwest. This picture is of a fire on the east side of

Blanca Peak.

 

 

I came into the Sand Dunes from the south and drove the Medano Primitive Road through the back of the park. This road passes through several deep

sandy areas and requires 4WD. I aired the tires down to 25psi to make the sand less of an issue. The road follows Medano Creek and eventually over

Medano Pass (Elevation 10,040 ft).

 

Some random shots...

 

 

 

Nobody was camping in Medano Canyon, it was quiet, secluded, and just beautiful!

 

 

The cactuses around camp were blooming.

 

 

The normal camp food for me, elk for dinner with a few Tecates!

 

 

The next day I made my way up Medano Canyon to the Medano Lake Trailhead.

 

 

Saw a few turkeys, good sized ones too.

 

 

The Medano Lake hike is 4 miles one-way with a 1,900 ft elevation gain. Moderately easy for first three miles; then very steep and rough.

The trail begins at 9,600 ft, about a half mile west of Medano Pass in a stand of spruce and fir trees, then rises as it follows Medano Creek to

Medano Lake (11,500 ft). The flowers along the way were not in full bloom, but were still nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of butterflies were around too.

 

 

I FINALLY got to the lake, it was a harder hike than I expected, especially the last mile. It was a nice view though. The peak next to the lake is

Mount Herard (13,297 ft) and I was going to climb it to get a nice view of the dunes, but I was taking longer than I wanted and I needed to get

on the road, so I opted to head back to the truck.

 

 

I got back to the truck, had some lunch and made my way over the pass. Once back to Highway 69, I made my way north. I was going to meet

several friends from the Expedition Portal forums that evening near Leadville. We were planning an assault on Mount Elbert, the highest peak

in Colorado.

 

We started the hike on Sunday morning at 6am. Only me, Brian, Scott, and Chris left camp at 5:45am to make the hike. I was a little worried because

I was so sore from the hike the day before. Me and Brian are not in top form and we ended up not bagging the peak. At 13,000 ft we both started

getting some nausea and my legs were cramping up from the hike on Saturday. We could have pushed it and made the last 1,500 ft, but why risk the

downhill part being worse. I had nothing to prove and I plan to go back and bag this peak later this summer anyway.

 

 

We stopped right here, at the face of the first false summit. Oh well, I'll make it to the top next time. :)

A few views from there.

 

That night Me, KC, and Brian camped near Buena Vista along a little river. A nice little area.

 

 

 

Monday morning Brian and I headed south and KC started back north to Wyoming.

 

There wasn't much time to prepare for this trip since it was so close to my Brazil trip, but I'm glad I went. It's always fun to

camp out and see old friends.

 

 

 


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