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All The Peaks I'll Never Summit

The San Juans have a way of thwarting my plans. Three years ago, my friends and I failed to find Handies Peak, one of the easiest 14ers you can do. We ended up roaming around the Alpine Loop with all the people on OHVs looking at us like we were crazy for hiking there. The year after, I almost failed again because I went around the wrong side of the Alpine Loop and took many more hours to reach the Handies trailhead than I should have. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and I was able to summit Handies even with the late start.

But that drive gave me experience getting over Engineer Pass, one of the most terrifying 4x4 roads in Colorado. And that previous experience was the only reason I dared attempt it again last month, as demolished as it was because of the monsoon rains. There were two spots I had to stop, breathe deeply, slow my heartbeat, and try a few different angles to get over the rocks in my amateur-rank SUV, but I made it. 

I had to, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to get to the Uncompahgre trailhead that night, and another San Juan 14er would have slipped from my grasp.

woman on top of a mountain holding a sign with the mountain name

But many of the other peaks down here are beyond me. For example, while Windom is a do-able Class 2 hike, you have to take a train and backpack in and stay overnight to do it. Eolus, Sunlight, Wetterhorn, El Diente, and Wilson are all beyond my skill level. That's not to say I couldn't learn the climbing skills necessary to summit then, but I won't. Time on this earth is limited. We can't do all the activities. Besides, climbing would frustrate me - so little gain over so much time. I like to keep moving forward. So, I have to settle for admiring these peaks from some of the beautiful hikes that stop at lower elevations.

But then, most unexpectedly, Redcloud and Sunshine tried to best me as well. For as much hiking as I do, I'm never as smart as I think I am. This is a nice two-fer of Class 2 hikes that should be easily do-able...unless you follow a non-existent trail downloaded from AllTrails and go the wrong way up the peak, getting yourself in a seriously dicey situation that you need to bail from. Yeah, that. 

woman on the side of a mountain

two women at a trailhead sticking out their tongues and holding an upside down sign

The San Juan Mountains are no joke. You've got to pay attention and be on top of your game down here, and know when to give up. But they are the most beautiful part of Colorado, and almost the most beautiful mountains in the world. So work on your off-roading skills and your wayfinding skills and get on down here. And if you fail, try, try again.
three people and a dog on a mountain top

three people and a dog on a mountain top