San Bernardo Mountain P900
Peak 11,302ft P300

Tue, Jul 25, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


I had planned a much bigger day, spending the night at the Kilpacker TH with hopes of climbing both El Diente and Mt. Wilson, two 14ers in the San Miguel Mtns of Colorado. It rained lightly but steadily most of the night and when I got up in the morning it was heavily overcast and the high peaks were socked in. The forecast had been for 70-80% of rain during the day which is about what was delivered, my hopes that they might be wrong, dashed. I had more than a week left in Colorado so I figured I'd wait for better weather. Looking for an alternate plan to do on such a day, I drove back down to SR145 and then up to Lizard Head Pass for a hike in the Lizard Head Wilderness to two easy peaks, totaling about 2,500ft of gain over 8mi. I had hiked from this TH two years earlier with my pal Eric, on that occasion climbing Black Face and Cross Mtn. Today's hike would share the first several miles of that one before striking off into new territory.

Not an early start, I was heading up the trail around 8:45a. The initial part of the trail crosses green, flowering meadows with plants thigh-high, laden with rainwater. I put my rain pants on to avoid the soaking my pants would get, my boots fairly waterproof and able to keep my feet dry for the whole hike. The trail heads northeast, traversing the eastern slopes of Black Face for about a mile and a half before turning abruptly left to switchback up the drainage between Black Face and Peak 11,302ft. After climbing about 700ft, a trail junction is reached. The left fork heads up to Black Face while the right fork, which I followed, heads to Wilson Meadows. Shortly after this junction I turned right to head cross-country up to Peak 11,302ft, about 1/3mi from the trail. The going is easy and pleasant, through meadow initially and then up through forest to the summit. A small cairn marks the highpoint, views non-existent due to the trees. I left a register here and headed back to the trail.

Another half mile along the trail brings one to another signed junction. The sign indicates the trail heading down to the left while a use trail heads right, up towards San Bernardo Mtn. This good trail only gets you about 1/3 of the way to the summit which is a mile from the trail. After the trail ends, the going continues to be fairly easy up grassy slopes and through trees until reaching a rocky cliff face on the south side. San Bernardo has two summits, the west one being the highpoint. The easier route is to the east summit first, then following use trails to the west summit along the connecting ridgeline. I took a more direct route to the west summit that involved some minor class 3 scrambling up somewhat loose rock. I watched helplessly as a large handhold broke loose and dropped towards my left foot for which I had no other position to move it to. The layered rock broke into a hundred pieces leaving my foot unscathed, but not before it had scratched up my left forearm. A little blood-letting isn't a big deal, luckily. Above the cliff face I found the intermittent use trail connecting the two summits and followed it to the highpoint. Gerry and Jennifer Roach had left a register here around 2004 (hard to tell since the page was pretty faded). There were a few other names I recognized, including John & Alyson Kirk and Theresa Gergen among the 15-20 entries contained therein. Having been kept in a glass jar, the paper was crisp without a hint of dampness. Glass good, PVC bad. The views are open in all directions and quite nice, though the higher summits of Lizard Head, Wilson and Sunshine to the west were all hidden in the clouds. Wilson Meadows to the southwest looked luxuriently green.

I paid a visit to the east summit for no other reason than I had boatloads of time and nowhere in particular to be. It had a small cairn but no register, with better views looking east across the headwaters of the San Miguel River and SR145 to the much higher summits in that direction. I found the easy return from the east summit back to the trail, descending soft meadow slopes in a bit of sunshine that came out briefly around this time. Back on the trail I came across three other parties heading up while I was going down. One of them paused to ask if I had just been to Sharkstooth. I was quite surprised. This couple with two dogs (under very good voice command, I might add) had been going up to Sharkstooth Pass two days ago while I was heading down. Small world. I was back to the TH shortly after 1p, not long before the first of the afternoon showers came down. I would need to get another weather report to see if I'll have any better luck on El Diente and Wilson tomorrow...


seano comments on 07/27/17:
Good old monsoon season... If you get another clear day, you should do Dallas, a 5.easy scramble just outside Telluride. And if you are looking to kill time on a rainy day, there are some nice hot springs right off the highway just north of Rico.
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