Three ladies, Kassi, Natalie, and Rachel, trusted me to take them through the Sangre De Cristo Mountains up to Challenger Point via The Willow Lakes Trail. This would not only be each of their first times backpacking but their first times summiting a Colorado 14er (a mountain higher than 14,000 feet above sea level) as well! Based on our group chat, everyone was a little nervous but more excited about trying out the new activities!
You can watch more from our entire trip on my YouTube Channel or in the video below!
The next morning before we packed up, we actually walked around the Watchtower and saw all of the offerings others had left to the beings that are rumored to inhabit the area. We left our own offering hoping for a great and healthy trip ahead of us then took off to the trailhead!
It was roughly 10 a.m. when we left our cars behind and entered into the woods. Fortunately, it was cloudy, so the sun wasn’t beating down on us. The heat would have made this hard hike even harder to handle.
The trail, though it was tough, was beautiful. It cuts in and out of the woods, over and around Willow Creek, and turns and weaves through boulder fields and valleys of bright blooming flowers. It was magical.
The map and routes said it was only 1.6 miles from our campsite to the summit, and we knew it was going to be steep. Willow Lakes is the exact halfway mark, as far as elevation gain goes, from the trailhead to the summit, so even though it was a shorter hike, it was much more difficult. It would be nearly twice as steep as the day before’s hike.
Once we reached the Challenger Point trail marker, the terrain took on a different persona. From here on out, the trail is a steep, scree filled, rock climb all the way to the summit.
The hike down took no nowhere near as long as the hike up, but we had to be extra careful not to knock rocks loose onto hikers below us. The steepness really took a toll on our knees, and Natalie was very thankful to have her poles. We made it down safely, and before we knew it, we were back at our campsite
It took us 6-hours to hike from our campsite, to Challenger Point, and back to our campsite. It was roughly 2 p.m. when we got back, and we were starving. We all cooked lunch and tried to recover from the last two days’ strenuous hikes.
The rain never let up, and it stormed all night. It rained so hard that we heard rock slides and saw new waterfalls coming off the nearby rocks that had not been there before. Again, it was an early night in our tents, but the early night meant an early morning start.
Fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time we woke up, and we were able to pack up all of our gear without it getting too wet. Once our campsite was broken down and our packs were completely full, we were ready to head back down the trail to our cars.
You can watch more from our entire weekend in the video below or on my YouTube Channel here!
Backpacking The San Juan Mountains Mount Sneffels and Uncompahgre Wiilderness with Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
You can watch more from our entire summit experience in our YouTube video below!
If you want to see more from our time in the Uncompahgre Wilderness please look at our separate blog posts and YouTube videos HERE!
Still professing the entire trip’s incredibility, the three of us finished our weekend of climbing Mount Sneffels and exploring Wetterhorn Basin in Uncompahgre National Forest and headed back home, finally, to Denver.
Watch more from our entire week long journey below or on our YouTube Channel!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.