San Juan Summertime and the Livin’s Easy

Half Peak with its dramatic North Face standing guard over the Weminuche.

Ben and I have been on a bit of a tear this summer. Blitzkrieg is a word often used to describe a few of our trips and while they have been nothing but excellent, it makes you appreciate a trip in which you are afforded the ability to get to your destination early, snag 1st dibs on a campsite, and enjoy perfect weather all weekend. “Stress-free” was thrown around a lot this past weekend and we savored every minute of it.

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A Sunday Morning Stroll in the Tenmile: Pacific and Atlantic

Fletcher Mountain and “Drift Peak” from the summit of Atlantic Peak.

After spending most of the week wishing I was still running around in the Weminuche and the San Juans, I was itching to go for a walk. These days when hitting the trail solo, I’m usually en route to the Park or catching up on some of the easier Centennials. On Sunday, with a morning to spare and a small weather window, I decided a trek into the Tenmile range was in order. Centennials Atlantic Peak (13,841 ft.) and Pacific Peak (13,950 ft.) were the perfect candidates being just a short jaunt up Mayflower Gulch and if the weather held, I could possibly take a stab at Fletcher and Drift.

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Kicking off the Summer in the Sangres: Mount Adams

Mount Adams looming large over South Crestone Lake.
The beasts of the Sangres.

With my snowshoes on Craigslist and Ben and Brian’s skies packed away for the season, it was finally time to dust off the trail shoes, strap on our 8 lb. packs, and kick off the unofficial start to the summer of 2014.  The Sangres were an easy choice with the amount of snow still lingering around the rest of Colorado, and Adams and it’s surrounding 13ers were more than a worthy objective.

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Taking the High Road: Hope and Quail from Willis Gulch

The view east along Lake Creek from the Willis Gulch TH.

In the state of Colorado, the word “Spring” can have many meanings. For my neighbors on Eliot Street, it means they can finally come out of their homes, sit on their porches, and wonder where I could possibly be off to next. For the friends I travel these hills with, it’s the season they’ve been waiting for all year, a time to strap on the planks and ski until the snow turns to grundle in mid to late June. For others, it’s straight up couloir season. And believe it or not there are actually people who just like to snowshoe. I’m not sure I fit into any of these categories, but I always do love this time of year. Even more so this year than most, despite some of my recent solo nerd raging snowshoe grumblings! This spring was undoubtedly a snowy adventure, the beer always tasted good, the weather was guaranteed to be inaccurate, and the excellent company in the backcountry made each and every weekend something to look forward to. However, with all that said I may or may not have thrown my snowshoes into oncoming traffic last weekend, which brings us to this latest write-up!

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Casco Peak from Echo Canyon

The French Group: Casco Peak (L), Frasco Benchmark, and French Peak (R).

Casco Peak is a Centennial 13er located in the northern Sawatch Range. It is the 69th highest peak in the state of Colorado, sitting just to the west of Mount Elbert and southwest of French Peak. The peak itself is often climbed with French Peak (13,940 ft. – ranked) and Frasco Benchmark (13,786 ft. – unranked) as seen in the picture above. It is easily and most often accessed from the Halfmoon Creek TH near the Mount Massive TH, but there are several routes in all directions that enable you to choose your own adventure.

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