Ascent to Truchas Lakes on 2012-06-18

Climber: Richard Oestreicher

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Date:Monday, June 18, 2012
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
Place:Truchas Lakes
    Elevation:3617 m / 11870 ft

Ascent Trip Report

With my climbing buddy Alan Bernier we climbed to the Truchas Lakes via the trail along the west fork of the Santa Barbara River with the goal of ascending North Truchas and Truchas Peaks. We got a late start the first day (a bit after 12) and made it 8.6 mi. up to 11,100 feet where we camped by a stream (with unfortunately mucho mosquitoes--thank goodness I remembered my heavy duty insect repellant). This was my first backpacking expedition in 35 years, and I found climbing with a backpack exhausting even though Alan kindly offered to carry more than 2/3 of our combined weigh--38 pounds to my 17. He's 37, and not only an accomplished peakbagger but also a world-class runner. I'm a 64 year old day hiker.

We were both tired by the time we stopped--me because of age and not being used to the pack, Alan because he had not yet become acclimated to the altitude. He had arrived in Denver from Providence only the day before.

We began hiking the next morning at 7:40. About a half mile up we encountered a golden retriever sitting in a stream apparently lost and injured, a broken doggie pack next to it. We tried to feed it and coax it up to the trail, but it was terrified and refused to move. We yelled and searched for the owner without success. We later learned that the dog had been lost 4 days earlier and eventually reached the owner via cell phone on our return to Santa Barbara campground (he had posted a lost dog notice on the bulletin board).

We continued another mile and a half up to the Santa Barbara Divide where we stowed our backpacks in the bushes and headed up North Truchas Peak (see separate entry for the statistics on that part of the trip). It looked steep and got steeper. It's only a hair over half a mile by GPS heading, but I ended up walking about twice that far as I tried to create switchbacks to decrease the steepness of the ascent. It took us about an hour and a half up with rests for breathers about every 75 feet of elevation gain the last few hundred feet.

As expected, breathtaking views on the top on a cloudless day. After a short snack break, we headed down to the Divide in a little over half an hour. It took some care to avoid slipping on the steep slope.

From there it's about 1.2 mi. to the Truchas Lakes. Although the Lakes are a bit more than a hundred feet lower than the divide, there are a number of small rises in between with perhaps 250 feet of elevation gain. It seemed like more in my tired condition.

By the time we reached the lakeside I was exhilarated but absolutely exhausted. We set up camp and I relaxed all afternoon taking photos, communing with the big horn sheep, and talking with other campers (about 20 in three groups to my surprise). Alan felt sufficiently refreshed after lunch to set out on another five hour excursion that took him up three more 12ers in the Santa Barbara Range. I also baled out of our planned ascent up Truchas Peak next morning because I feared I wouldn't have enough energy for our return if I climbed a major peak that morning. Alan hit the trail by six and returned just three hours later having conquered Truchas, Middle Truchas, and Medio Truchas. He has truly awesome stamina!

We hit the trail for the return trip at 10:35 and made it down to Santa Barbara campground in 5:14, not counting 20 minutes trying to tend to the injured dog. It was 11.1 mi. to the trailhead at the end of the campground but another 0.6 mi. to our parking spot outside the fee area.

Roundtrip: 25 miles and over 5000 feet of elevation gain--not bad for a geezer!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1295 m / 4252 ft
    Elevation Loss:1312 m / 4308 ft
    Distance:37.7 km / 23.4 mi
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Clear
Crystal clear, cloudless, hot
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1123 m / 3685 ft
    Extra Loss:227 m / 745 ft
    Distance:18.8 km / 11.7 mi
    Route:west fork Santa Barbara
    Trailhead:2721 m / 8930 ft
    Time Up:7 Hours 35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1085 m / 3563 ft
    Extra Gain:172 m / 567 ft
    Distance:18.8 km / 11.7 mi
    Trailhead:2704 m / 8874 ft
    Time Down:5 Hours 14 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Truchas Lakes (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
 North Truchas Peak2012-06-19
1Truchas Lakes2012-06-18

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