On July 26th Dave and I made to drive down to the entrance to the ranch that has Culebra Peak on its property. We parked at the gate with several other cars and tried to get some sleep. Around 5AM on July 27th people began stirring and more cars arrived. Shortly before 6AM a ranch hand, Bobby arrived. He was very friendly and told us about being a sheep herder in the mountains when he was younger. At precisely 6AM “The Boss” arrived, the gate opened, and after being checked off the reservation list we caravaned in to the office. I know it irked Dave to pay to hike and ways around paying was the topic of conversation multiple times that day but everyone was friendly and considerate of the regulations on the mountain. After coughing up the $100 a head for the privilege of having access to the mountain the whole group was anxious to get moving. We gave a fellow climber, Shane, a lift up the 4wd road to the trail head. We saw a huge herd of elk disappear over a ridge and with no further ado followed the quickly scattering climbers up the mountain.
The mountainside was beautiful and largely untouched by humans though the elk sign was everywhere. We quickly worked our way up to “the cairn” and were rewarded with great views. There were early morning clouds and there had been lots of rain earlier in the week but it was a fresh day.
We worked our way along the ridge as light clouds and mist would build up then blow over the ridge lines and peaks all around us. By the time we made the summit the groups that were continuing on to Red Mountain were taking there last photos and hustling on to beat any weather that might build which meant that Dave and I got the summit to ourselves for a little bit. (Well, we had it to ourselves if you could ignore the marmot that kept brazenly coming within an arms reach looking for a handout.)
Others soon caught up to us and the summit quickly filled up. I guess it wasn’t any more crowded then many of the Collegiates or Front Range peaks but after the quietness of the Wilsons and Chicago Basin it was a little bit of a shock to be hiking with others. At any rate we took our time on the way down and enjoyed the morning. Before you knew it we were back at the truck ready to head out. We stopped in San Luis on our drive back since Bobby had informed us it was the celebration of the founding of the town but things were pretty quiet since the parade had already happened earlier in the day while we were hiking.