Summertime in the Sangres

Colorado,Sangre de Cristos
Sangres Sunset Pond : Prints Available

Sunset over the Crestone group, as seen from the south.

With our San Juans still covered in quite a bit of snow up high, earlier this week we drove east for 3 nights of backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where the snow is mostly gone and summer backpacking season is well underway.

Blanca Peak,Colorado,Sangre de Cristos, fourteener
Blanca Peak Dawn : Prints Available

The first light of dawn illuminates Blanca Peak (14,345 ft.), the fourth highest fourteener in Colorado.

We camped the first night up near treeline below Mt. Lindsey, a fourteener I have not yet climbed. Feeling motivated, I set my alarm for 3:00am in order to hike up to the 13,400 foot summit of the “Iron Nipple” (seriously) for sunrise. This rugged peak offered a great vantage point to watch the sunrise light on Blanca Peak, the monarch of this mountain range.

See lots more photos from the rest of our trip below!

Colorado,Mt. Lindsey,Sangre de Cristos
Mt Lindsey Morning : Prints Available

Morning light on Mt. Lindsey (14,047 ft.)

After our sunrise on the Iron Nipple, we climbed up neighboring Mt. Lindsey, which involved a somewhat spicy scramble to the summit. Nice to tick another 14er off the list (my 25th so far, out of 54 in Colorado).

Colorado,Sangre de Cristos, Huerfano, Blanca Peak
Huerfano Paradise : Prints Available

The paradisiacal alpine valley at the foot of Blanca Peak and head of the Huerfano River.

After our climb of Mt. Lindsey (and a nap) we packed up our stuff and headed further up the Huerfano Valley. Towards the head of the valley there’s rusted evidence of a sizable mining operation from days gone by, but nature has long since taken over again and the valley is now an idyllic slice of paradise. We camped our second night up near treeline below Lily Lake, with the massive north wall of Blanca and Ellingwood towering overhead.

Colorado,Mt. Lindsey,Sangre de Cristos
Mt Lindsey Mist : Prints Available

Clouds stream over Mt. Lindsey (14,047 ft.)

Blanca Peak,Colorado,Sangre de Cristos, fourteener, Lily Lake
Lily Lake Dawn Reflection : Prints Available

The two neighboring fourteeners of Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point reflect in Lily Lake at dawn.

Colorado,Sangre de Cristos, Huerfano, sunset, river
Huerfano River Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset over the upper Huerfano Valley.

For our third night out, we descended back to the idyllic meadows of the upper Huerfano basin where we camped near some springs and creek pools.

It was great to get out for our first real alpine backpacking trip of the summer!

6 thoughts on “Summertime in the Sangres

  1. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog and photos…. These places you visit come alive through your lens. Fantastic photography……

  2. I was in this area about a month ago attempting a summit of Little Bear and I was again reminded how beautiful this area is and how much more of it I need to explore. Thanks for showing me even more of what’s in this area, Jack. Excellent post and images, as always.

    1. Thanks Justin! Yes this valley is one that’s been on my wish list for a number of years. June seems to be a perfect time to explore the Sangres… summer generally comes earlier there! Of course July, August, and September would be ideal as well, though it’s harder to pull me away from the San Juans then…

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