Colorado Trail Day 17: Ivy League and Pretty Peaks

Daily Neet Beat
Yesterday afternoon when we climbed up to Silver Creek on a steep grade the monsoon began. We are definitely now in the cycle of rain in the afternoon. Luckily we have been getting up and making good time in the morning.
Drying stuff out at Silver Creek in the morning

We wake up to a cold morning with condensation on the inside of the tent. Today we are hiking in Segment 13 which goes between The Silver Creek Trailhead to the Chalk Creek Trailhead. The hike is partly in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness which contains eight of Colorado’s 54 “fourteeners”, the mountains in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet.

Sign for Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area

We are in the Sawatch Range sandwiched between Leadville and Buena Vista to the east, and Aspen to the west. In general, the Collegiate peaks have broad treeless summits with loose rocks that gradually drop off to forested slopes and wide bases. We hike mostly in the forested slopes of these mountains with great vistas of Mount Yale, Mount Harvard, Mount Princeton, etc. Yeah, the Collegiate Peaks are named after famous American Ivy League Universities.

View towards Mount Princeton, one of the Collegiate Peaks

Some people add climbing fourteeners to their trip but we have a time constraint at the end so are mostly just hiking through. Ray and I have climbed 13 of the fourteeners but I have never really focused on climbing them all as a goal. I think about coming back and doing the loop that combines the east and west Colorado Trail route through the Collegiate Peaks. You could do a resupply in Twin Lakes or Mount Princeton Hot Springs and add a few fourteeners in the mix. Maybe we will come back.

Epidote which is a green mineral formed by hydrothermal, or hot fluids.

We are trying to slow down our pace because we have a reservation for two nights at Mount Princeton Hot Springs for tomorrow night and we are ahead of schedule. I had estimated we could do about 15 miles a day but now I realize that I could have planned on 20 miles a day.  Unfortunately, Mount Princeton Hot Springs is very popular so they are full and I can’t move the date up.

This is really “Dry” Creek?

We get afternoon rain again and stop at “Dry Creek” in early afternoon. “Dry Creek” is a perennial, reliable creek so I am not sure why it is called Dry Creek. This is the last place you can camp before entering private lands.

I am standing under a tree to get out of the rain. Note my kilt which is made of dyneema (cuben fiber) and weighs only 2 ounces. I found this worked well with high gaiters (also made of dyneema and less than 2 ounces).

Just the Facts


Total Miles: 14.2
Cumulative Miles: 225.3
Trail Segments: 13
Camp Elevation: 9525 feet, camped at Dry Creek
Elevation Gain:   1932 feet
Elevation Loss:  3504 feet
Weather: raining and cloudy 

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