Click here for more details & images from the traverse of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Range.
Salida to Blanca Peak.
Approximately 120 miles in total. Mostly exposed, off-trail terrain. Elevation generally ranged between 10 and 14,000 ft.
Throw in regular afternoon thunderstorms, consistently high winds and a cumulative elevation gain of more than 40,000 ft.
In short; it was a challenging trip.
This is what I took*…………
*Note: Following the Gear List I do a quick recap of items I’d either leave behind or take if I were to do the hike again.
|ITEM||WT. (OZ)||SUB (oz)||SUB (kg)||COMMENTS|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Soutwest 2400||28.6||Went with internal frame pack due to 8 day food carry & long waterless stretches / Bomber durability and carries heavy loads well.|
|Pack Liner (Trash Compactor Bag)||2||Cheap & effective|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp||10||Held up very well in extreme conditions when pitched in storm mode.|
|Guylines – Kelty Triptease||1|
|Stakes – Mix of sizes & styles (9)||2.8||Mostly sturdy stakes in case of extreme conditions.|
|Pad – Thermarest NeoAir XLite (Sm)||8||Very comfy / Doubles as makeshift framesheet for pack / Put feet on backpack when sleeping.|
|Pad – Gossamer Gear 1/8 Thinlight||2.4||Insurance against holes in NeoAir / Takes combined R Value up to 5 Plus.|
|Quilt – Katabatic Sawatch 15||24||Conservatively rated 15°F / Best quilts/bags I have used / Could have made due with the Palisade 30°F.|
|Bivy – Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy||7||Adds 5 – 10° warmth / Like a windshirt for quilt / Long-time go to item when using tarps smaller than 10×8 in potentially dodgy weather.|
|LokSak 20×12 (Food Bag)||1.2||Hundreds of nights in the boonies using LokSaks / Never had a critter problem / Seals usually start to go after about 6 weeks of regular use.|
|Gatorade Powder Container||1.3||Rehydrating vessel of choice when going stoveless.|
|Titanium Spork||0.3||Top end wrapped in orange tape so I wouldn’t lose it.|
|SmartWater Bottles (2)||2.6|
|Platypus Hydration Bladder (2 LT)||1.2||Extra H20 capacity came in handy during long dry stretches on crest.|
|FIRST AID / HYGIENE|
|Sunscreen (repackaged in tiny btle.)|
|Hand Sanitizer (repackaged in dropper btle.)||I haven’t had a case of the backcountry trots since 1999…….I think a big reason is diligent use of hand sanitizer.|
|Aquamira (repackaged in dropper btles.)|
|Toothpaste (mini tube)|
|Dental Floss||Doubles as sewing thread|
|Antiseptic Wipes (2)||Clean cuts / wounds|
|Triple Antibiotic Cream (tiny tube)|
|3M Micropore Medical Tape||Breathable, paper tape / Adheres well.|
|Ibuprofun (8)||Vitamin “I”|
|Sewing Needle||One armed blind folks can sew better than me.|
|Duct Tape, Tenacious Tape Patches, Mini Tube Super Glue (repairs)||To compensate for lack of sewing skills|
|Emergency Fire Starter (2)||Cotton wool balls in Vaseline|
|Rain Pants – Montbell Versalites||3.6||Light, quick drying and durable enough for on-trail hiking / For bushwhacking, scree slopes etc. I’d recommend going with something sturdier.|
|Rain Jacket – Montbell Peak Shell||9||I’ve grown to like this rain jacket a lot | Nice balance between weight, durability, breathability and good DWR.|
|Base layer – Montbell Merino Wool L.W. Tights||4.8||Thumbs up / Replaced old Patagonia Capilene 2’s.|
|Insulation – Montbell Superior Down Parka||8.6||Very warm for the weight / Snug hood.|
|Insulation – Patagonia R1 Hoody||10.9||Long time favourite / Key item on trips like this when freezing rain, high winds, temps in the mid 30’s F and exposed conditions are common.|
|Extra Socks – Smartwool PhD UL Socks||1.6||Lime green / Freebie from Winter OR, 2015 / Thumbs up|
|Extra Socks – Smartwool merino wool||2.4||Warmer pair for sleeping.|
|Dirty Girl Gaiters||1.3|
|Bandana (1)||0.5||Towel, neck/face protection, condensation wipe, convenience store holdups.|
|Outdoor Research PL Sensor 400 Mittens||2.9||Love these mittens / First time I’ve worn them in a few years; salvaged from gear storage purgatory.|
|MLD eVent Rain Mittens||1.4||Outer Layer for hands.|
|Warm Hat – Montbell Chameece Beanie||1.3||Great beanie / Not too thick / Stretchy enough to fit my big noggin.|
|Phone – Samsung Galaxy S4 mini||4.8||Decent photos & Video / Showing signs of wear and battery life isn’t what it used to be; need to upgrade to a newer model.|
|Stuff sacks – HMG Cuben Fiber (3)||2.5|
|Montbell Power Head Lamp||2||First time using this model | Thumbs up | Four settings, pretty good battery life | 160 Lumens max.|
|Wallet/Credit Cards/Drivers License||0.7||Used thin plastic card holder as Wallet|
|Swiss Army Classic||1.3||All you need for backpacking purposes|
|Suunto M-2D||1.2||Adjustable Declination | Compass of choice for years | (Note: No longer made).|
|Umbrella – Montbell / CDTC Chrome model||5.9||Due to high winds & rugged terrain, generally not practical for crest / That being said, came in handy as a rain block for tarp entrance when camped above tree line & elements were raging.|
|Camera – Panasonic Lumix||7.7||Good zoom, HD Video / Battery life average / As with phone, showing signs of wear.|
|Extra Camera Battery||0.7|
|Small LokSaks for Valuables (2)||1||Protection for phone, charger, wallet, camera, battery.|
|BASE WEIGHT||TOTAL||11 lbs||5 kg|
|Shorts – Patagonia Baggies||8.1||First time w. these shorts / Big Thumbs up / Very similar material to long time favourites, Macpac Cross Terrains|
|Windshirt – Montbell Tachyon Anorak||1.9||This is my third model / Each has lasted around 8 to 10,000 miles / Very durable & warm for something so featherweight.|
|Base layer – Montbell Merino Long Sleeve Zip Neck||5.9||Great baselayer / Not too thin, not too thick / Spot on for shoulder season conditions.|
|Montbell Merino Liner Gloves||1.1|
|Montbell Merino Wool Liner Socks||1.6||Merino liners have been my go-to hiking socks for years / Montbell’s versions are pretty good, though I’m still partial to my old REI Navy Blues.|
|Hat – Gossamer Gear Gorilla Cap||1.2|
|Shoes – Brooks Cascadia 10||24.4||Much maligned 10th incarnation of the Cascadias / So far so good.|
|Fizan Compact – Hiking Pole (1)||5.6||Makes for easy tarp setup / Fencing practice during breaks……….Tokyo 2020 here I come.|
|Timex Ironman Watch||1.5||Cheap, durable, light, multiple alarms|
|Sunglasses||2||Polarized lenses / 100% UV Protection / Wrap around|
|TOTAL WEIGHT||14.4 lbs||6.53 kg|
“If you were to do this hike again, is there anything else you would take or leave behind?”
- Shelter: As much as I liked the Square Flat Tarp, I’d probably take a Mid next time around. It would afford a little bit of extra protection when camped above tree line. Due to the nature of the route, dropping below the trees was not always a practical option.
- Umbrella: The crest is windy, exposed and the terrain is quite rugged. I’d leave the umbrella behind.
- Downsize Quilt: Instead of the Sawatch, I’d take the Palisade 30F from Katabatic. When combined with the clothes I took, this would have sufficed from a warmth perspective.