Archuleta County Highpoint Trip Report
Summit Peak (13,300 ft)
Date: July 1, 2005
Author: Layne Bracy
The three county highpoints for Conejos, Archuleta, and Rio Grande each require easy to moderate
hikes but are fairly remote, requiring lots of driving on unpaved roads.
I decided to try to get all three with a loop from South Fork.
The total time, round trip, from South Fork was 15 hours.
I left South Fork at 3:30 am, heading west on Highway 160. Turned on Park Creek Road (FR 380),
taking that to FR 250 through Platoro to FR 105. FR 105 is signed "Lake Fork Ranch".
As I neared the TH, I passed a sign that said "Trail Closed" so I kept driving until the road got too sketchy.
By this time, I had already seen many elk, including a calf or two.
I would see 40 or so this day, on all three hikes and along much of the drive.
From the Conejos County highpoint, I drove back along FR 380 to the Lake De Nolda turnoff,
taking this road to its end. Started hiking up Treasure Creek at 10:12 am.
This was the most beautiful hike of the three. I was quickly greeted
by gorgeous cascades and waterfalls. The stream was flowing quickly. I crossed
at about 11,400 feet, where the stream divided in two. A log took me across one
half and a hop across the other. As I reached the upper basin there was a lot
of snow, though it presented no special challenge. Eventually I started veering
south away from the creek and towards Summit Peak.
Summit looked very formidable from here, with a vertical north face and much snow.
The route stays east of the north face and winds around to the south,
where I was greeted by gentle tundra slopes and little snow. As I ascended Summit,
I began getting tired and started to rethink my plan. Originally, I had
hoped to also summit nearby ranked 13ers "Unicorn" and Montezuma.
Now I wondered whether I could do these and still get Bennett this day.
Reached the top at 2:18 pm.
From here, I could see that the ridge down to the saddle with
"Unicorn" was steep and loose, maybe even impossible for me to do safely.
After weighing options, I decided to forego the other 2 13ers here.
On the return I saw two hikers traversing the snow slope on Summit's north face.
They may have been backpacking the Continental Divide Trail.
These were the only hikers I saw all day.
Reached the car at 1:41 pm.
Climb statistics: 6 miles round-trip, 2,300 feet of elevation gain, 3.5 hours duration.