Peak(s):  PT 13,402  -  13,402 feet
PT 13,015  -  13,015 feet
Date Posted:  08/25/2017
Date Climbed:   08/17/2017
Author:  bergsteigen
 One more long walk in the La Garitas  


Pt 13,402 & Pt 13,015


Trailhead: Eddiesville TH
Mileage: 15.35
Elevation Gain: 4,892'
Route: Canon Diablo
Partners: Solo

I had been wondering how to do these last 2 peaks in the La Garitas for a little while. Most routes are long but typically gentle. I looked between Snowalien and Piper14ers routes up these two, and figured I could start with the easy Colorado trail and then go up the defunct trail in the Canon Diablo, and then decide wether to go down the long gentle way (extra 2.6 miles) that Piper14er did. With it still being monsoon season, having options is always nice.

I got started before civil twilight, as the horizon was just starting to not be pitch black. Within the first quarter mile, cows on the trail startle at my presence and run away, thereby scaring the shite out of me. Nothing like a little cortisol streaming through my body in the pre dawn dark! I take to clicking my trekking poles together, so that doesn't happen again!

Even in the low light, hiking the easy Colorado Trail is a breeze, and I'm making great time. I see the turn off for where Piper14er went, but the trail is nonexistent, as he mentions.

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Moo cows on the Colorado Trail

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Pt 13,015 reflection


I get to the the junction with Canon Diablo, and note the canyon, so I backtrack the short distance and find a decent crossing below. The 3.9 miles only took me 1:38, even with taking a few photos, and realizing my last camera battery was about dead. Where I crossed got to about knee deep, and on the other side there was some flagging and a hint of a trail. Someone had crossed here before!

I semi follow the game trail, and find the beds of a few deer from the night before. I head up the drainage, and about the moment I say to myself - I'll just stay on the west side of the stream, if I don't see the trail - I run dead into the trail, and see it crosses to the east of Canon Diablo. There's a downed tree to aid in the crossing

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Crossing the stream below the canyon

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Canon Diablo stream crossing


On the other side of the stream, the trail quickly takes on more of a game trail feel. Rather well used by animals, game trail. Most of the trail closely hugs the edge of the stream bank, but does go a bit further inland at times. Plenty of downed trees to clamber over.

I noticed a couple strawberries on the way up, and had to pick a few. I hoped I could find them on the way down!

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Strawberries??!?!?!

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Pt 13,402


About the time the trail dumped me into the stream, I decided to cross over and find my ascent route up 13,015. It would actually be better to stay on the east side of the stream for that last tenth of a mile, as the other side is very wet, marshy and willowy. I only got relief when I got to the trees, where I found another game trail.

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Looking up the Diablo valley


Since I saw puffies starting as I was making my way up 13,015, and my camera battery was near empty, I just booked it up the slope to get onto the summit. Nice perspective on San Luis and Organ Mountain, and I was sad that I couldn't spend longer looking at it. I had some decisions to make. Could I make the next summit before the clouds got bad? Should I go down and up or around on the ridge? Why didn't I research that possibility? Hindsight says running the ridge would not be faster. It's roughly 4 miles and the same amount of vertical gain as the closer way.

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Summit pano

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What a marmot thinks of the soaked and moldy summit register can

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San Luis and Organ Mtn

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Pt 13,402


So like the hounds of hell were after me, I raced down 13,015, crossed the stream, bush whacked through pricker bushes and up the steeeep slope up 13,402. Pausing only to snap a few photos, and admire a really old lodgepole pine tree.

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The route up 13,402 on left by rockslide

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Back in the valley

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Slope up 13,402

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An old beautiful tree

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A look down the route Piper14er took up 13,402

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The summit cairn!!!!


I kept eying the clouds, and going at my top pace, and reached the second summit 2:28 after leaving the first. Not too bad, considering the terrain. I arrived for a short sun halo in the clouds. I still didn't like being up there with the clouds, so I raced through the summit ritual, and headed back down.

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Summit pano

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Phoenix summit cairn is visible from here...

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Pt 13,015 and the 80% dead trees


Since I had skipped my summit snack, I decided to take a break on the roots of the old lodgepole pine. There the sun parted the clouds, and everything looked cheery again! With all the racing down and up and down again, I was pretty tired, and the remainder of the slope took awhile.

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Life next to death. So many dead trees


Back on the Canon Diablo trail, I found a large patch of strawberries in the warm sunlight, and picked as many ripe ones as I could. They were quite warm and ever so delicious! So much flavor in such a small package! It reminded me of June summers at home in WNY picking wild strawberries in our rock garden. Those large commercial berries may look appealing, but have nothing on their wild counterparts. I left with all my fingers red and sticky!

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Yummy strawberries in my belly!

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Through the marshy section

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Canon Diablo stream crossing


On the return to the CT, I decide to follow the trail as best I could. It ran into some willows before the stream, so I put on my water sandals and walked up the stream to the regular crossing. There's a campsite right at the trail juncture, if you're ever looking for this specific spot. From there it was an easy jaunt down the CT.

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Where the original trail crossed near the CT

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The canyon

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A snake sunning itself

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The long trail back


A quarter mile from the trailhead, I ran into the only other person I was to see that day. A 75 yo guy from Oregon. We had a nice chat about the differences between Oregon and Colorado, and how he didn't really meet many Colorado locals on the CT trail. We are apparently obsessed with the 14ers so much, we ignore the pretty cool through hike in our state. It may not be the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Coast, but it's still a great trail. It's something I hope to do once my vertical/peak goals subside in a few years (maybe a decade depending on pace). It was really good to see someone of his age still getting out there after it! Gives me hope of what I can still accomplish in life!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
wombat

Awesome
08/25/2017 19:31
Wish I could pig out on some wild strawberries right now! Question- why do you think all those trees die so uniformly? Thanks for the exciting read.


Trotter


lucky
08/26/2017 13:33
I never find strawberries on hikes. I have to make do with bearberries and chokecherries. Not nearly as good.


bergsteigen

Strawberries are my fav!
08/28/2017 14:59
wombat - I wish I could spent more time gathering them up! As to the trees, the whole La Garita area is dead. Not sure why, but it has to be some kind of disease. They're logging out the dead ones on NF land, which is a good idea. That area is a tinder box waiting to happen!

Trotter - I haven't found this profusion of strawberries before. I don't think I've had bearberries or chokecherries, as I don't know all my wild edible vs poisonous plants yet.



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