The first sign that the terrain in this region was steep was this view of trees flattened by a recent avalanche.
The night before I started the hike it stormed, and at 10AM the next morning hail was still laying on the path.
The lower part of the Conejos River valley, before the Three Forks Junction. (I would continue up the Middle Fork to Lake Ann.)
Approaching the Three Forks junction.
After an hour and a half the first view of Gunsight Pass (the narrow notch in the distant ridge).
Conejos Falls, seen through the trees. I'm half way up the Middle Fork of the Conejos River. (Thank goodness there are no mosquitoes in late August.)
The Middle Fork is a wide, gentle valley for its entire length.
The end of the Middle Fork. To the right the Continental Divide Trail contines over a ridge, heading north. But I wanted to make a short excursion to the left (south) and climb up to see Lake Ann at 12,000 feet. Note the small patch of snow in the notch of the ridge at the top of this valley. Not bad for late August.!
Falls just below Lake Ann. This is the treeline at about 11,800 feet.
Lake Ann is above the treeline. It may be pretty on sunny days, but there is no shelter when the weather gets bad.
After getting back on the Continenal Divide Trail and crossing one ridge, I spy this unusual geologic formation. It looks like a vein of different material extending away from me and up the slope.
After three ridge crossings (and climbing to see Lake Ann)...it's been almost 10 hours of hiking with a 50 pound pack at 11,000 feet. Finally, I am descending into the Adams Fork of the Conejos River. I will proceed up this valley to its end, and camp for the night.
This part of the Adams Fork is not losing elevation fast, and the river shows this by taking a very meandering path.
What made this track? Bear? Cat? (My GPS is about 6 inches long.) I kept looking over my shoulder for the rest of the hike that day....
I'm in the Adams Fork, hiking towards its upper end, but the sun is setting. Time to choose a campsite. Where is level ground? (I couldn't find any, and that makes it difficult to sleep. Oh well.)
Frost the next morning shows that summer is ending! (But it's still uncomfortably hot in mid day if the sun is shining.)
Nearing the upper end of the Adams Fork, and I come across these unusual rock formations. They are several stories tall.
Next to the unusual formations is a stream that points right where I want to go. It's somewhat steep, but looks passable. And, it's a shortcut that might save me some time compared to sticking to the Continental Divide Trail that takes a switchback route up the very end of the valley.
The unusual rock formations are made of....natural concrete?
They didn't expect me to come climbing up that narrow stream on the steep slope.
At the top of the steep stream channel I look back and say goodbye to the view across the Adams Fork. I'm at about 12,300 feet, but the Continental Divide Trail goes even higher as I continue north toward Summit Peak.
These guys like the high ground. This peak is right at 13,000 feet.
Anonymous 13,000 foot peak just south of Summit Peak.
Summit Peak (13,300 feet) is to the left of this beautiful mesa at 12,500 feet. The sun was strong, and the wind was light. Too hot for my tastes...and I was consuming lots of water. I dropped the pack (except for my water) and climbed this easy face of Summit Peak.
Looking southwest from the top of Summit Peak.
Lookout Mountain? I'm not entirely sure. (Looking northeast.)
Another summit view - looking west.
Looking southeast to Conejos Peak (13,172), 8 miles away. I climbed this mountain in early July, from the opposite side.
After enjoying lunch on Summit Peak I returned to my pack and continued north on the CDT. Each time I turned a corner a new vista presented itself.
Thistle in bloom at 12,500 feet.
Standing in the middle of a recent, narrow slide path. This was probably formed by a wet snow slide late in the winter when temperatures climbed above freezing. A wet snow slide is very much like a mud slide.
The only folks I met on the CDT were traveling faster than I was...and sweating less! (They were out for a day trip, starting from Elwood Pass.)
From the north (looking south), Summit Peak presents a more challenging face.
Anonymous peaks 1/2 mile southwest of Montezuma Peak (13,150). This is the highest section of the CDT I traveled...about 12,600 feet.
Looking below me, I found a patch of bare stone that had a distinct powder blue tint to my eyes. (The photo does not show the color as I rememberd it. Here it looks a rather neutral grey.)
Looking down the valley that leads to Crater Lake. I have to drop 1,000 feet and turn left to pass a steep ridge.
Outcroppings of lighter stone caught my eye as I descended to Crater Lake.
The lighter stone outcroppings from a different angle.
Cater lake is a relatively well-visited site. I had neighbors, and even a tame deer that was looking for handouts. It was able to open a jar of peanuts that my neighbors left unattended.
Crater Lake (10,900 feet) is surrounded on almost all sides by steep slopes.
Montezuma Peak catches late afternoon sun.
The next morning I had to climb back to the elevation of the CDT. From here that was a gain of 1,700 feet...and the trail was not a direct path. Ouch! I scoped out the terrain, consulted my map, and did some thinking....
The saddle in front of me did not appear steep, and according to the map it led me back to the CDT in a direct route. Unfortunately it meant I had to climb a talus slope. From this distance it looks smooth and easy..... Anyway, I decided to take this direct climb next morning.
Montezuma Peak reflected in the waters of Crater Lake.
Sunlight shining on Montezuma Peak from the opposite side? It's the last morning of the hike, and time to climb out of Crater Lake and return to the truck.
45 minutes of climbing gets me above the treeline (looking back at Crater Lake), but there is still grass. The slope is steep, but it provides firm footing...so far so good....
Looking up toward Montezuma Peak. Up to this point I was climbing in the shade of a high ridge east of me. That would soon change for the worse.
Talus slopes are never fun to climb. The rocks are loose underfoot. If you are unlucky, you slide back and make very little progress with each step. This talus slope was easier than most. I didn't do too much back sliding.
Normally I prefer to climb snow instead of talus, but this snow was very steep, and I could not get secure footing. I stuck with the talus.
Back on the CDT. Marmots prefer rocky terrain, and as you cross their area you can hear them give a warning call to their neighbors...but often you don't see them because they quickly duck down. This one was curious long enough for me to get a photo.
Miles of traversing the CDT. The sun is now high, and it makes some distant ridges look daunting.
I've dropped back down into the Adams Fork. I've already traveled 5 miles (and climbed 1,700 feet)...and I've only got 6 more miles to go!
Halfway down the Adams Fork. The U-shape of the valley is a sure sign that a glacier traveled down it. The weather might have been hot, but at least I avoided any serious rain storms.