RT: 12.14 miles
Elevation Gain: 4691’
I knew it was supposed to be windy today, but the past few weeks the wind hasn’t materialized in the Sangres as predicted, so I decided to take a chance. I arrived at the Duckett Creek Trailhead, the only vehicle there.
I actually started out taking the Rainbow Trail, which is located at the north end of the parking area.
The Rainbow Trail is wide enough to fit an ATV, and it looks like a lot of people take advantage of this. There weren’t any footprints on this part of the trail, but there were a lot of tire tracks. I lost a little elevation here, but nothing too dramatic. I followed the Rainbow Trail northeast, as it passed through a burn area and crossed South Lake Creek Drainage (which was half frozen).
There was a nice bridge over North Lake Creek
After hiking for 1.35 miles, I came to a junction with 4WD road 198. I turned left, and started following FDR 198.
I followed this road as it crossed a section of North Lake Creek, skirted the Balman Reservoir, and passed several nice dispersed camping sites.
I hiked 2.9 miles from the trailhead to 9800’ of elevation, and a curve in the road. This is where I left 198 and bushwhacked to treeline.
It was just under 2 miles and 2000’ of elevation gain to treeline from where I left the road. The trek was interesting without any visuals: the pine trees obstructed any view. I was however, able to hear the wind. I followed the ridge proper southwest
Just before treeline I got a glimpse of Eagle Peak, before heading into the trees again
At this point, I came across what kind of looked like a trail, but it fizzled out
Once at treeline, you’ll be tempted to cut through the trees and head straight for the ridge.
Today, the area with trees had snow, so I skirted the trees to the right on tundra. I’d recommend this, as there weren’t any obstacles.
The hike towards the peak is obvious, and completed on 90% tundra. The slope angle is low: This would have been an easy summit, if it weren’t for today’s wind.
Tundra stopped at rocks. I just went directly up the face. This is a false summit.
Today this was tricky to navigate, as the wind was intense: it never stopped. I’m guessing there were sustained winds of 35mph, which are tolerable, but the unexpected gusts of 50+mph made things tricky. I’d have to lean into the wind to remain upright as the winds were a constant 35mph, but every once in a while a gust came from the opposite direction and knocked me back (or pushed me forward). It was added fun when this happened on the rocks that rolled and I skipped a few steps with my feet and flailed my arms in the air to regain balance, hoping not to fall. I sat and laughed more than once as I waited for a gust to pass after falling down. Also, during one of the cross-directional gusts I hit my knee (again) on a rock in the same place for the third time this week. I jumped up and down to relieve the pain and made up a few words in the process.
Back to the rocks. These are microwave size, and some roll, especially the smaller ones. Choose your own adventure.
At the top of the rock pile you can see the rest of the route to the summit
I just followed the ridge to the summit, hunkering down when the gusts of wind came. This ridge is class 2
I summited Eagle Peak at 8:45am. Yes, this is the best picture I got: the wind kept knocking over my DSLR camera, and it was cold, so I didn’t make many attempts. I didn’t even attempt to take off my backpack for the photo: I figured if the wind could knock me down while wearing my pack, I’d most likely lose my pack if I took it off. I could picture it tumbling in the wind down the side of the mountain. I probably wouldn’t stay standing long without my pack either.
I didn’t stay long at the summit, as I wanted to get out of that wind asap. This was an out and back hike, so I re-traced my steps back over the ridge
More ridge pictures:
Following the ridge back to treeline was easy. I aimed for the tundra to the left of the bristlecone pine trees.
Here’s a quick video of the wind near treeline, once it started to die down. I wish I’d captured a video of the wind gusts, but they weren’t predictable.
The hardest part of this hike was navigating back down the ridge, because I didn’t have any visuals. I relied heavily on my compass, heading northeast back towards the road
I made it back to the 4WD road, and took it back to the Rainbow Trail
I then took the Rainbow Trail back to the Duckett Creek Trailhead
I made it back to my truck at 12pm, making this a 12.14 mile hike with 4691’ of elevation gain in 7.5 hours.
And now, to drive home and wake up my daughter. She’s home on college break, and will most likely still be sleeping at 2pm when I get home. Since it’s just the two of us this year, we decided to have an early Thanksgiving dinner so we can have all week to eat the leftovers before we leave.