Colorado Trail Day 29: Playing on the Mesas

The plan for today is to get across Snow Mesa which is a high Mesa above 12,000 feet, cross highway 149 at Spring Creek Trailhead, and start climbing up towards Carson Saddle. We are shooting for about 16 miles give or take (we ended up hiking 18.8 miles). Yesterday it started raining around 10am. If that happens today we are screwed. Snow Mesa is over 12,000 feet, exposed with no trees and there is nowhere to take cover in a lightning storm. We are hoping for a more normal Colorado July day with thunderstorms starting in mid-afternoon.
Another beautiful sunrise but there are clouds and we will be above tree line today…
Snow Mesa is just a start to this part of the Colorado Trail which for about 50 miles stays high at 12,000 to 13,000 feet. It is supposedly beautiful but can have harsh weather conditions. We will see how it goes.
A classic view on Snow Mesa which is crossed on Colorado Trail Segment 21 between Creede and Lake City in central Colorado.

Luckily the morning is beautiful and we are glad we stopped early yesterday. Once you are on the Mesa the hiking is easy and fairly flat. The views are incredible here.

Ray and I on Snow Mesa
Ray is running around taking pictures as the geology is amazing here. Lahars, tuffs, stone stripes and other periglacial features, you name it. I love Ray’s craziness and kid-like excitement. That happens to both of us out here. But Ray is the one running around like crazy with his camera. I just stop and forget how to breathe.
Hiking below Lahar deposits which have eroded into pinnacles on Snow Mesa.

We get across the Mesa and start dropping down to highway 149 where the Spring Creek Trail starts south of Lake City. As we drop off the Mesa, we pass through a large pika colony. They are busy grabbing the grasses and taking large mouthfuls back to their holes. We are entertained by them once again.
Dropping off Snow Mesa and heading down to Spring Creek Trailhead.

Once again we drop in elevation to the road which means going back up again. We have been at Spring Creek Trailhead before. We ski-packed here to the Hinsdale Haute Yurts with some friends back in the late 90s. I am now recognizing some of the peaks as we are getting closer to home and the areas we are familiar with. I am happy to see Uncompadre Peak and Wetterhorn which have always in silhouette looked liked crashing waves in the ocean.

The majestic Uncompahgre Peak in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. This peak looks like a crashing wave to me.
Hiking across Jarosa Mesa

We climb over both Snow and Jarosa Mesas. We get rain but not until we have camp set up. Now that’s the way I like it.

Sheep on Jarosa Mesa.
Just the Facts
Total Miles: 18.8
Cumulative Miles: 366.2
Trail Segments: 21 and 22
Camp Elevation: 11,713 feet, marshy valley across from Trail Friends Yurt
Elevation Gain:   2391 feet
Elevation Loss:  2530 feet
Weather: mostly sunny and cool in the morning. Stormy in the afternoon with rain starting around 2pm

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