Sarah and I returned to the Stewart Creek TH, which we had previously used to ascend San Luis in 2008, in order to climb centenials Stuart Peak and Organ Mountain. We started at 6:30 A.M., just as the sun was bathing Baldy Alto (right of center) in warm alpenglow.
Having had a blast on Ouray a few weeks prior, Gretta joined us on this trip as well. The Tacoma designers didn't size the bed quite large enough to accommodate two adults and two Huskies. We inevitably learned to sleep with a paw thrust into our spleens.
We began by heading up the Stewart Creek trail, which was scenic and very runnable.
one of the dozens of beaver ponds along the trail
Once above treeline, we left the trail and headed up grassy slopes toward the summit of Baldy Alto.
Sarah and Nina making the final few steps to the summit of Baldy Alto with 14ers Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre on the distant horizon
Sarah, sporting a new 'fro, and the pooches posing on the summit with San Luis in background
green, gentle slopes beneath San Luis
Stewart Peak (far right), our next destination
Along the way to Stewart, we encountered a small herd of Bighorn Sheep.
The sheep were a bit spooked by the dogs, so they quickly lined up in a prevent defense formation. They were on our intended path, so we had to detour around them far below the ridge line.
There were loads of wildflowers on the slopes of Stewart Peak.
Gretta, Sarah, and Nina posing on Stewart's summit with Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre in the background
Gretta refused to pose with me, though.
Baldy Alto (center) and San Luis (right) from the summit of Stewart
Organ Mountain (left of center, just below the horizon) and Phoenix Peak (center, on the horizon)
We had made good time, reaching the summit of Stewart in just three hours. However, we didn't dwell for long because we were hoping to make it all the way to Organ as well. Luckily, the weather was on our side.
looking down Nutras Creek, with Stewart Creek on the far right
perfectly camouflaged Ptarmigan
Sarah and the dogs cruising down the gentle slopes back toward Baldy Alto
We contoured around Baldy Alto's summit and dropped back down to Stewart Creek. We then ascended the wide, obvious drainage (center) to the large saddle to the left of Organ's summit.
looking up the flower-covered drainage toward Organ's summit
We reached the summit of Organ Mountain at noon on the dot. Usually, this is a recipe for getting struck by lightning, but the weather was holding steadily for us. It was a spectacular day to spend so many hours above treeline.
Stewart (far right) enjoying some shade in the distance
Organ Mountain's namesake organ pipes on its south face with Phoenix Peak in the background
Making a fun loop, we descended the Cañon Hondo drainage back to the trailhead. Finding the trail along the creek was tricky and required some cursing at the willows, but we eventually made it work.
looking in the general direction of the trailhead with Mount Ouray on the distant horizon (far left)
Sarah enjoying the gentle slopes before the pending willow bashing
Once on the trail in Cañon Hondo, we had to cross quite a bit of deadfall. With our legs tired from the long day, we were not nearly as entertained by the obstacles as Nina and Gretta were.
With only a couple miles to go, the sun was still shining hot. We took several breaks to let the dogs lounge in the creek. The breaks had nothing to do with our legs being tired.
Sarah finishing the last bit of trail before running up the road to get back to the Stewart Creek Trailhead
We arrived back at the car at 2:00 P.M. under calm skies. While the dogs lounged in the shade, we treated ourselves to beer and a pound of fresh cherries.