PT 13,128 and Thirsty Peak – 13,224

RT Length:  14.15 miles

Elevation Gain:  5370’

For those of you who’ve been following my truck situation, the topper for Miles finally arrived!!!  More than 4 months later, but let me tell you, it was worth it!  I’m so glad I did a trial run with my last truck (‘Truck Kirk’… if you get it, you’re awesome, and we should be friends), and got everything I wanted this time around.  This weekend was my first time trying out the new set-up, and I’m thrilled.  Plexiglass instead of glass gives me blackout windows, which are great for irregular sleep patterns that are sometimes necessary to wake up at 2am and hike.  Added bonus:  plexiglass doesn’t shatter! I put up Reflextrix around the windows to keep in the heat, and set up my Buddy heater in the corner.  I re-used the foam bedding from the Tundra (after cutting it a little to fit), built the cabinets myself (not bad considering the only ‘shop’ experience I have was in a 7th grade Industrial Arts class), and commissioned my daughter to paint them.  She used pictures I’d taken while hiking, and all I have to say is I love them!!!  We left a few of the lids to the cabinets blank, so if we meet at a trailhead, I expect you to add your signature to one of them so I can remember you.

Ok, moving on to the trip report.

I arrived at the trailhead the night before to get plenty of rest before the hike.  I talked with some local hunters, pre-signed the register because I’ve learned pens don’t work in the early morning when they’re cold, and got to bed just as the sun went down.  At 5am I was up and on the trail, heading south through the scrub oak.

I was at the wrong trailhead.  After .25 miles of hiking, I knew I was on the wrong trail.  I pulled out my cell phone and started the compass app (which works moderately well): I didn’t want to deal with a flashlight and a ‘real’ compass in the dark.  While I was following the cell phone compass-directions, I tripped.  No worries though, because my cellphone broke my fall.  All I can say is:  good thing I had a screen protector on my phone.  Also, my knee still hurts.

To save time I brought up a gpx file (which I only use when absolutely necessary) and realized it looked like I was going in the right direction, but about half a mile too far south.  Ugh.  I hoofed it back to the trailhead, signed out of the register by scratching on the paper with a pen, got in my truck, and drove to the Hot Springs Trailhead, about half a mile north.  I got there, jumped out of my truck, ready to go, signed the register, and was off.  It was now 6am.

The correct trail starts at the Hot Springs Trailhead.  There are two different trails that originate from this trailhead.  I went right, following Garner Creek Trail 752.

This is a wide, class 1 trail

I quickly came to a gate, and then another gate.  I passed through both, closed them as instructed, and continued on my way.

I followed this (mostly) class 1 trail for 6.3 miles to the 13123/Thirsty Peak saddle.

Even though I wrote it on the topo map, I forgot them: My stream crossing shoes.   Creek crossings.  Have I mentioned them?  I stopped counting at 10 on this trail.  Good news; they’re all easily crossed.  Here’s a visual…

I passed some camping spots with hunters still sleeping in their tents, came to a bit of a clearing, and had a visual of where I was aiming; the saddle between PT 13123 and Thirsty Peak.

I continued following the trail as it headed northeast, crossing several more streams.

After hiking for about 5 miles, I was just below treeline.  Here the trail stopped, but the cairns picked up.

At the top of pile of rocks I was now just at treeline, and on a ridge. I followed the ridge east, and then north, staying directly on the ridge.  Here’s an overall view of the route.  There were cairns here.

Here are some more pictures of the ridge.  The cairns are circled.  Most of the cairns were shorter than the grass, but they were accompanied by large branches sticking up from their centers, so they were easy to make out. 

Once above treeline the trail faintly resumed.  I headed north to the 13123/Thirsty Peak saddle

Once at the saddle I turned left and followed the ridge northwest to the summit of PT 13123, gaining 425’ in elevation.  This started out as tundra, but quickly became rocky. 

I summited PT 13123 at 9:55am


I could see Cottonwood Peak to the northeast (not on my agenda for today)

I turned and headed back to the PT 13123/Thirsty Peak saddle.

From the saddle, it was a class 2, rocky ridge hike to the summit of Thirsty Peak. I gained just over 500’ from the saddle to reach Thirsty Peak (unranked). 

I summited Thirsty Peak at 11am. At the summit I heard a coyote yipping.  I got it briefly in the video, but just at the very beginning. 

Thirsty Peak:  

Here you can see the reason Thirsty Peak is unranked:  Lakes Peak

I turned and headed back to the 13123/Thirsty Peak saddle

And then re-traced my steps back down to the ridge

Here’s an overview of the route out

Here are some pictures of the way back to the trailhead

I made it back to the trailhead at 2pm, making this a 14.15 mile hike with 5370’ of elevation gain in 8 hours. 

On to the next trailhead!

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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