Of all the peaks I've climbed and miles and miles of backcountry trails I've hiked, I had never climbed a fourteener until yesterday. My partner Jacob and our friend Christian trekked deep into the La Garita Wilderness to climb 14,014 foot San Luis Peak, one of the least climbed and most remote fourteeners in Colorado.
San Luis Peak is in the northwest extreme of the San Juan Mountains in western Saguache County in the giant blank spot on the roadmap between Creede and Gunnison. The primary trailhead, Stewart Creek, is at the end of remote gravel road 29 miles from the nearest asphalt. I suspect that San Luis Peak would see even fewer people were it not for the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail threading along the Cochetopa Creek drainage on the peak's southern flank.
It's a six mile hike — four through dense woods — from the trailhead to the summit for a 3,500 foot elevation gain. Admittedly, this one's an easy climb (I'm spying Longs next), but the allure isn't just the climb; it's the trek just to the trailhead. We drove about 80 miles of unpaved backroads between Lake City and Saguache over the weekend, all of them threading through empty and wild country most folks from the Front Range probably never see. By the way, the rolling Cochetopa Hills west of Saguache are incredibly beautiful, and well worth a trip unto themselves.