Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak
Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range
Trailhead: Willow Creek, 8,550 ft
Route: North Slope
If you are going to hike this route, bring MOSQUITO REPELLENT and a HELMET!!
We loaded up our packs and started hiking from the Willow Creek trailhead around 4:30 PM on Saturday. Once you hit the parking lot, the mosquitos are horrible…and for the next 5 miles of hiking. You had to keep moving or they would swarm you quickly so our time to the lake and our campsite was pretty quick! It had been raining all day so conditions were a little wet when we arrived at the campsite. We gathered a bit of wood, set tents, started a fire…which lasted about 10 minutes before a deluge of rain hit us.
The weather cleared out and we started in the morning at about 6 AM towards Challenger Point. Trail was as described. Very difficult to find after the rock rib and a bunch of different ways/cairns marked the way to the top of the ridge. Expect a challenging scramble at this point. There was a decent amount of people on the mountain and TONS of rocks were coming down. The goats kicked a few down too! I highly recommend a helmet. The good news is that once you hit the ridge, it is a fairly easy/straightforward climb to the top of Challenger Point at 14,081ft.
It was a little after 9 AM at the summit of Challenger Point and we checked the weather and then decided to head over to Kit Carson Peak. There was a bit of snow as you entered the “avenue” and then a couple of small snow crossings along the avenue. The snow crossings were on fairly steep sections and a few people turned back when they hit them. I am guessing you will have to cross a bit of snow for a few more weeks. It took about an hour to get to the summit of Kit Carson Peak. We then came back the same way and reclimbed Challenger Point to begin the descent to camp and then back to the trailhead.