Peak(s):  PT 13,153  -  13,153 feet
Date Posted:  11/21/2021
Date Climbed:   11/20/2021
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Willow Lake Trailhead   

PT 13153


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RT Length: 12.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 4530’


I just love the local herd of bighorn sheep in this area! I’ve seen them a few times, usually up at Willow Lake. It’s neat watching the babies get bigger. They greeted me this time on my way to the Willow Lake trailhead.


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The trailhead was deserted for a Friday afternoon. I sat back, ate some peanut butter off a spoon, sipped some whiskey, and jotted down notes from the day. The bathrooms were still open, clean, and stocked.


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Before making it an early night I pre-signed the trail register, red a bit, and headed to bed. I’m so darn comfortable sleeping in the bed of my truck, it’s difficult to get up and out in the morning. Oh, and I ‘installed’ new lights, if anyone’s interested: https://youtu.be/_Kq8ZPKMTG8


The South Crestone trail starts from the same area as the Willow Lake trail.


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The trails quickly diverge, and I followed the South Crestone trail, heading northeast.


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The South Crestone trail (860) is a class 1 trail that will lead you all the way to South Crestone Lake, without any junctions.


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After hiking for 1.6 miles I passed an old log cabin, and started switchbacking up the hillside.


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At the top of the swithcbacks the waterfalls started. They were located alongside the trail, but didn’t impede the actual trail. Since it was cold this morning, the ice never got a chance to melt (these pictures were taken on my return).


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I came to a meadow, and then switchbacked up to the lake


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I always know I’m close to the lake when I see the “no camping or livestock within 300 feet of lake” sign.


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After hiking for just over 5 miles, I made it to South Crestone Lake


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I’d gone too far, but on purpose: I’d wanted to see the lake. About 5 yards before the lake, there’s a post near the trail. I’m sure it was informational at some point, but now it’s just a post (and difficult to miss).


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At this post I turned left, leaving the trail. From here on out, it was a class 2 hike.


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As soon as you leave the trees, you have a great visual of the rest of the hike


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Here’s the route I took to the summit of PT 13153


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First, I ascended this rocky/willowy/tundra filled gully. Note the rock circled, as it will be your visual cue when you exit.


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At the top of the gully, I stayed on the tundra, avoiding the rock outcroppings both above and below. But was unable to avoid the willows. I just aimed diagonally for the first pile of rocks on the ridge I could see. There’s no reason to try to ascend directly to the ridge; just keep aiming northeast.


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Staying on the tundra will help to avoid rock-hopping


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Once on the ridge, it was a simple hike to the summit


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I summited PT 13153 at 8:45am. It was cold.


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PT 13153: https://youtu.be/u4F3dFSt428

There were some great views of the Crestones


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There was a summit register, but it was too cold for me to attempt to open it. Have I mentioned it was cold and windy? I wanted to get down off the ridge asap.


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Here’s an overview of the route back to the lake. Remember, just aim for that big rock that signals your decent down the gully


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Here are some pictures of the way back to that large rock


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Once at the large rock, I descended back down to the lake


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This brought me to the class 1, South Crestone Trail, which I followed back to the trailhead


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I was really surprised at all the witch’s hair I saw on the trees. It’s completely taken over in some parts. In the dark I’d thought the green were pine needles: Not so.


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As I rounded the corner, just before descending down the switchbacks to the cabin, a herd of bighorn sheep darted across my path, kicking up dust and thundering down the hillside. They were too quick for a good picture, but I was 100% sure it was the same herd I’d seen yesterday, and last time I was at Willow Lake (we’ve bonded). I’ll add this to my growing list of wildlife ‘butt’ shots.


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Here are some more pictures of the trail back to the trailhead


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I made it back to my truck at 11:30am, making this a 12.1 mile hike with 4530’ of elevation gain in 6 hours, 30 minutes.


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Today had been much easier than anticipated. I was done earlier than expected, which was great! Now to head home; my daughter comes back from college for Thanksgiving break tonight, and I want to have her favorite dinner ready for her when she arrives!





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