Looking out from the summit of Tijeras Peak the weekend prior, we wondered what the northern end of the 75-mile, snake-like ridge that makes up the Sangres was like. So we decided to make the trip down here for a second weekend in a row, to go check it out.
This time, we approached from the west, via the San Luis valley, opting to tag some summits as part of a long trail run/ hike outing. We headed up towards Rito Alto Peak, 13,794 ft., the 110th tallest mountain in the state, along the trail and past the lake that bears its name. We gained the ridge at Hermit Pass, on the spine of the Sangres. An easy hike north put us on Rito Alto’s summit, after which we descended and scampered up Hermit Peak, 13,350 ft., the adjacent peak on the ridge south of the pass.
Twenty-two miles after starting we were back at the trail head and finished. The day netted two summits and about 6,000 vertical feet of climbing. Even better, along the way we encountered a huge herd of elk, saw antelope on multiple occasions, and even came up on a bear on the trail. It was a good day, with a whole lot more solitude than the Aspen area trails have had this past holiday weekend.