Saturday, July 21, 2007

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

LAKE ANN, COLLEGIATE PEAKS WILDERNESS, PIKE-SAN ISABEL NATIONAL FOREST, COLORADO. July 21, 2007. From Monarch Pass Erin travelled generally north along the CDT paralleling the divide eventually passing from east to west through Tincup Pass (elevation 12154). Along the way there was a torrential hail storm and a scary lightening storm. She spent a lot of time hunkered down off the ridges. She spent 2 nights near the junction of the CDT and Cottonwood Pass road. There she found the prearranged grain delivery "up the hill, behind the big log, wrapped in a blue tarp." (Thank you Martin Feed). Later she caught a ride into Buena Vista where she did her laundry, did some shopping and caught up with friends and family via cell phone. The next day she entered the spectacularly rugged Collegiate Peaks Wilderness again crossing the divide and camping near Lake Ann to the Southwest of Huron Peak (14003 ft) and on the slopes of The Three Apostles (see photo). The unnamed pass over the divide to Lake Ann seemed higher than the surrounding ridges; was very rough with much talus (a sloping mass of rock debris at the base of a cliff) and 2 foot steps on the switchbacks. Despite not being recommended for stock "The Boys" handled it with minimal difficulty. Each day brings more beautiful and wondrous sights. "It just can't get any more beautiful than this."

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness may possess the highest average elevation of any wilderness area in the contiguous 48 states. Eight peaks exceeding 14,000 feet are found here, including the state's third and fifth highest summits, Mount Harvard and La Plata Peak. In addition, another half-dozen peaks soar over 13,800 feet. More than 40 miles of the Continental Divide follow the crest of the Sawatch Range in what is arguably the pinnacle of the North American continent, for the divide never reaches a higher point between the Isthmus of Panama and the Arctic Circle than it does in the Sawatch Range.

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