Sangre de Cristo Ultimate

Colorado USA: (RTCO01)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/co_ultimate_packtrip.aspx

Introduction
Colorado USA
We cross 12,000 ft high passes, riding up to six or seven hours almost every day. Some traveling is along rough, unmaintained trails that may require moving rock slides or chopping a fallen trees blocking passage. We sometimes cross valleys over old herder’s tracks above timberline where it is necessary to dismount and lead our horses over rugged terrain. We work together to make it the most rewarding and beautiful trip you can imagine. We believe strongly this trip is the best of its kind in the country. Definitely the staff favorite.
Our standard route crosses over the top of the Sangre de Cristo Range into the wilds of the Rio Grande National Forest. Traversing the very spine of mountains, we steer clear of roads and habitations until we descend on the last day. The group works as a team. Everyone participates in saddling, care of horses and in setting-up & breaking-down camp. The staff cook, clean-up, and pack horses. This is an expedition, lightweight and mobile, utilizing all hands towards the ultimate goal of reaching the next pass, or catching sight of the moving forest of elk. We work together to make it the most rewarding and beautiful trip you can imagine.

In the spring when the mountain passes are still in snow, we take a route at a lower elevation into the Grape Creek Canyon. “A memorable wilderness journey through some of the most remote and spectacular mountains in North America...with comfortable camps, world class guides and Colorado’s best mountain trained horses!”
Designed specifically for the horse enthusiast and high country lover who wants to disappear completely into a lost mountain world, this five day ultimate horseback vacation takes you far from the crowded trials and backpacking hoards and through the forgotten valleys of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area.

Accomodation

Accommodation
This is a progressive ride where nights are spent at different locations. The first night is spent at a hotel and the remaining 4 nights are spent camping. You change camps three out of four nights- so you stay in the same place for two nights.

Radisson Inn Colorado Springs Airport
This hotel provides a free transfer service to the airport as well as free Wi-Fi and a hot breakfast buffet.
The rooms are modern and include a flat-screen TV, microwave, min-fridge and a private bathroom. You can also relax in the hot tub, sun terrace or indoor pool.
If you need an extra night in Colorado Springs on Day 6- please let Hidden Trails know and we will be happy to book this for you.

Camping
Guests stay in two- to four-person wall tents with comfortable foam beds.
The group will work as a team. Everyone participates in the care and saddling of their horses and the setting up and breaking down of personal tents. The staff cooks, cleans and pack the horses.

We can supply saddlebags, sleeping bags, ground mats, and duffel on request for additional fee.

Room Occupancy
Single tents can be requested at no extra fee but a single supplement applies for the first night at a Colorado Springs hotel.


Meals
All meals are included (from breakfast on day 2 to lunch on last day) except in Colorado Springs. Meals on the first day are not included but we offer 20% off for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant in Colorado Springs.

Dietary Restrictions
We have experience with and are happy to accommodate special dietary needs such as Kosher, vegetarian, and lactose-free. Just let us know when you make your reservations of your special needs.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Horses
The ranch owns 60 head of Appaloosa and Paint horses. The horses are sure-footed, no nonsense and willing. We will assign you your own horse and teach you how to saddle, picket and care for it.

Riding Experience
Our trip begin with hands-on instruction on saddling and care of your mount. At the same time, our program allows for diversity to accommodate and challenge the advanced rider as well. Our philosophy is simple; the more you know about your horse and equipment, the more you will enjoy your vacation.

Riding Terrain
We cross 12,000 ft high passes, riding up to 6 or 7 hours almost every day. Some traveling is along rough, unmaintained trails that may require moving rock slides or chopping a fallen trees blocking passage. We sometimes cross valleys over old herder’s tracks above timberline where it is necessary to dismount and lead our horses over rugged terrain.

Itinerary

SAMPLE ITINERARY (July-Sept)

Day 1:
Arrival in Colorado Springs. The airport shuttle will take you to the hotel. Check in. For dinner you have a 20% discount at the restaurant.

Day 2:
Early morning full hot breakfast at the hotel (starting at 6 AM). At 7:30 Am our transfer will pick you up from the hotel lobby and take you to the trail head near Westcliffe. This route takes you from the eastern plains below Pikes Peak, traveling back into western history up Hardscrabble Pass through the Wet Mountains, across the Wet Mountain Valley, to the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These locations are aptly named. Hardscrabble is just that—a narrow, steep, twisting canyon found and used by the white man for less than, maybe, 200 years. Over 12 feet of snow fell on much of the Wet Mountains this winter, and rain, hail, and snow can find riders in the Wet Mountains every summer. You will get the opportunity to learn how the Sangre de Cristo range gets its name (in English, the “Blood of Christ”) if you see the morning sun strike the mountains and, for just a few moments, the snow-covered peaks turn the pink of snow brushed with blood. If you need to buy a fishing license, remember to ask your guide to stop before we pass through the town of Westcliffe. You will arrive at the trail head mid-morning, where we begin with a detailed lesson on riding, saddling and care of your mount, then we pack up and head out. Quiet riders will discover the joys of meandering through age-old aspen, pine, and spruce to round a blind corner and discover mule deer, a porcupine, a wild turkey, cottontail rabbits, or maybe a snowshoe hare. We will ride about four hours to our first camp in a lush meadow amongst the aspen at the base of the valley that will lead us up and over the Range tomorrow. We set up tents, picket horses, and soon the scents of a mouth-watering feast mingled with wood smoke entice us to gather round the fire for drinks and dinner.

Day 3:
After breakfast with a bracing cup of cowboy coffee, we saddle up, load the packhorses, and begin the ascent up South Brush. The trail winds through low-lying bogs, across downfall timber, through dark groves of evergreens, past fields of wildflowers, and ultimately will lead you above timberline to a windswept pass. Here you may hear strange whistling sounds warning others we’re coming—we’re the invaders here. If you look closely you may see this whistler—a rotund, waddling funny-looking fellow known as a yellow-bellied or mountain marmot. He’s a friendly fellow who lives in the rocks, subsists entirely on the greens of summer, and then hibernates through the harsh winter. (That’s “marmot,” not “varmint.”) It’s an incredible day of riding over a 13,000’ pass to our first glimpse of the vastness of the San Luis Valley framed by each peak and ridge line descending sharply below us. Ask your guide to point out our route for the next four days from this incredible vantage point. We ride down and establish camp amongst the aspen in Horse Thief Basin for a well-earned restful evening, another gourmet feast around the campfire, and a peaceful night.

Day 4:
Morning breaks and while easing a few stiff muscles we work as a team to break camp after enjoying a traditional pack trip breakfast and lots of cowboy coffee. Today we’re riding totally on the west side of the range. Depending on our Forest Service permit, we either cross another 13,000’ pass above Cotton Lake and make camp along Rito Alto Creek, or go over two passes to settle in San Isabel Creek. Keep your eyes open, and you may find more signs of other Rocky Mountain mammals. When we drop into Elk Valley, we hope to see the larger cousins of the mule deer we spotted earlier. Unlike mule deer, who are more territorial, the elk are nomadic - constantly searching for food and a warm thicket to bed down in during the day. A bull elk, who stands about one and a-half feet taller than a mule deer, can run up to 35 mph, and during the rutting season you may hear them “bugling” as they call to their potential mates and warn off other bulls. Where there are so many small forest critters as well as deer and elk, there are predators, and deep in the mountains we cross live both cougars and black bears. Like the marmots, the black bears have a very short season to store enough fat to feed them all winter while they snooze in some dark den, so they munch all summer on whatever they can find. It’s not unusual to see tracks or scat of these fat, lumbering old fellows where they have stepped in some mud near a creek for a drink. If we’re very, very lucky, we may see one from a distance casually crossing our trail on a path of his own. The cougar, or puma, are even more reclusive, and few guides in these mountains have yet to see more than sign that one of these big cats have passed our way—but, you never know. . . The smaller predators, such as bobcats or coyotes, are more often seen and heard, and the coyotes have been known to gives us a thrill when they howl as we tell tales around the campfire after delighting in a delicious classic pack trip dinner.

Day 5:
We lay over for the day to allow us time for hiking, fishing, or just relaxing—enjoying the day basking in the beauty to be found around camp. A hiking trip allows you the time and opportunity to enjoy the wildflowers close up. There are an amazing variety of wildflowers, especially at the peak of their seasons if there’s been sufficient water. In addition to the ever-present small yellow composites, you may find larkspur, elk thistle, monk’s hood, mountain bluebells, scarlet gilia, Colorado blue columbine, Parry primrose, wild roses, wild geranium, and hare bells, or if you’re truly fortunate, a Calypso orchid, also sometimes called a fairy slipper, Venus slipper, or lady’s slipper. If you climb above timberline, look closely at the paintbrush. Something unequaled at lower elevations happens here; often the paintbrush bloom in startling shades of fuscia or even a delicate off-white. If you choose to fish, in these high waters it is a true delight. There are indigenous trout, but the State also stocks many of these alpine lakes and streams with Pikes Peak Native fingerlings, a hybridization of Greenback and Yellowstone or Colorado River, and purebred Greenbacks. You may also find Brookies or a Rainbow in some of the creeks and beaver ponds. These waters are not specially restricted, so pack your favorite gear: flies, lures, or hooks for bait, and come prepared to enjoy and share your catch for dinner if there’s enough! That night, after a sumptuous dinner, as the fire dies down and you drift off to sleep, you may hear the calls, hoots, and flight sounds of some of our spectacular nocturnal birds of prey: great horned owls, screech owls, and night hawks.

Day 6:
After breakfast we break camp and cross over our last two passes (or three! depending on where we had our layover) and descend back to the trail head arriving by 4-6pm. This is truly the most spectacular day yet. These breath-taking, lofty views are perfect locations to watch for some of our air-borne predators: large, swift, powerful hawks and eagles who swoop to dine from the skies. You may see Swainson’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, and, most majestic of all, golden eagles. Imagine what it is like to look down from your perch on high to see a golden eagle soaring with a wing span of over seven feet, or to see him perched standing 3 feet tall! Deeper in the trees you may see a sharp-shinned hawk, a Cooper’s hawk, or the northern goshawk. We’re at the trail head too soon. We drive you back to Colorado Springs in time for late evening flights or for a restful evening in a hotel (hotel night not included).
OR if you are looking for a couple of days of faster paced riding you can stay on at the ranch in Westcliff until Sunday afternoon. Enjoy great rides across the wide open rolling meadows. Overnights are in a very comfortable outfitter camp on the ranch - showers, heat, beds. (dinner on Friday night not included)


EARLY SEASON ULTIMATE GRAPE CREEK  (May-July)
This ultimate pack trip takes place in the lower elevations of the Wet Mountains and canyons of Grape Creek allowing for an equally spectacular trip when the Sangre de Cristos are still clogged with snow.

Day 1:
Arrival in Colorado Springs. The airport shuttle will take you to the hotel. Check in. For dinner you have a 20% discount at the restaurant.

Day 2:
Early morning full hot breakfast at the hotel (starting at 6 AM). At 7:30 AM our transfer will pick you up from the hotel lobby and take you to the trail head near Westcliffe.

Days 2 & 3:
Those days are spent up amongst the peaks of Tanner and Curley in the San Isabel National Forest. Laying over at one camp allows for a great day-ride with spectacular views of the canyons and the front range peaks covered with snow.

Day 4 & 5:
Moving from the peaks to Grape Creek on a little known trail. We momentarily pop out onto the Grape Creek access road, a point at which we may meet others coming in to fish. We move the next two days crossing and re-crossing the creek and exploring the canyon (now a BLM designated wilderness area) with its stories of old west mining and homestead history. We allow time to fish and relax in the contrasting lush green of the creek bottoms and the wild craggy country towering above us.

Day 6:
We drive you back to Colorado Springs in time for late evening flights or for a restful evening in a hotel (hotel night not included).


ALTERNATE ULTIMATE: Those times when the snow is so deep at the top of the Sangres that the horses’ bellies would drag through drifts, but when we still can’t resist the call of the Sangre Wilderness, we traverse the eastern slopes of the Sangres in the San Isabel National Forest. The description of this trip closely parallels the traditional Ultimate, but this trip runs from south to north instead, and we ride and explore on the sun-facing slopes, leaving the deeper snow in the darker, hidden valleys for another adventure on warmer days.
Due to factors beyond our control, we occasionally find it necessary to change the order or the route of these activities.

POST TRIP INFORMATION: At the end of your trip you will be returned to the hotel sometime between 5:00 and 8:00pm. We recommend making prior lodging reservations if you plan to spend the night. If you must fly out that evening, please do not schedule a flight before 8:30pm, to make certain you can make your flight. 

-- Subject to changes --


Rates and Dates for Sangre de Cristo Ultimate

Rates include:

Tent accommodations with first night in Colorado Springs hotel, all meals from Day 2 to lunch on day 6, 4 riding days, saddle bags

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    20196 day trip, AP, first night in hotel$1745

Tax 1: 3 % * prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy
Tax: 3 %  

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionUS$
2019 Transfer to/from Colorado Springs Airport is included by hotel $0
2019 Single supplement for the first night at hotel $100
2019 Extra night at hotel, per room incl. tax
This is a "Group Rate"
$200
2019 Sleeping bag and mat rental -- please inquire
- to be paid locally
$0
2019 Small group supplement (3 pax only) PP $335

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2019 07/21 - 07/26 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 07/28 - 08/02 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 08/04 - 08/09 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 08/11 - 08/16 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 08/18 - 08/23 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 08/25 - 08/30 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 09/01 - 09/06 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 09/08 - 09/13 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 09/15 - 09/20 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP, first night ... 4 /8 Expired

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Meals on first day (20% off for dinner at the hotel restaurant). Able to supply sleeping bags, ground mats, and duffel on request for additional fee ($35US per item). Please inquire.

Other Info
Meeting: Colorado Springs
Airport: Colorado Springs
Transfer: Colorado Springs hotel 7:30 am on Day 2.

Climate:
                                            Westcliffe area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

40

42

49

56

66

77

81

78

72

61

49

40

Average Low Temperature (°F)

7

11

19

26

34

41

45

44

37

26

16

8

Average High Temperature (°C)

4

6

9

13

19

25

27

26

22

16

9

4

Average Low Temperature (°C)

-14

-12

-7

-3

1

5

7

7

3

-3

-9

-13

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

2

2

5

4

5

4

8

8

4

3

2

2

Source: NOAA


Seasons
The weather is quite unpredictable; it can snow even in August, so be prepared for anything! Use the layer system of clothing, where items can be added or taken off with changes in temperature. On May, June or September trips snow and hail are common. The most important thing to bring is your cheerful acceptance of whatever surprises the wilderness may hold in store!

Colorado has 4 distinct seasons. Autumn brings unpredictable snowstorms, generally beginning in September, before relatively mild winters create a heaven for outdoor enthusiast. March is often the snowiest month, though the weather is notoriously undependable.

Summertime sees the temperature increasing, but it never gets too hot. It is usually dry at that time of the year; however, thunderstorms can happen anytime.


Special note - High altitude
In order to best acclimate to our higher altitude (9000’), we recommend that you begin increasing your water intake to 8 or more glasses of water per day at least 24-48 hours before you are due to arrive—this will help your body adapt to the higher altitude. 

What To Bring:
Riding helmets are mandatory for riders 16 year and under. Riders over 16 yrs can sign a Waiver locally if they prefer not wear a helmet (always recommended). The ranch does have helmets available, but we recommend to bring your own for best fit. Saddle bags are available to borrow for the trip.

Clothing:
Pants
2 pr. long
2 pr. shorts

Shirts
1 heavy long sleeve (cotton is cold when wet)
1 lightweight long sleeve
1 short sleeve
2 T-shirts or tank tops

Underwear
Long underwear bottoms or biker shorts (to combat saddle sores)

Footwear
Boots for riding (lightweight narrower hiking boots are more versatile)
Tennis shoes or something similar for around camp
Socks -- 4 or 5 pairs of heavy cotton or wool

Outerwear
Bandana
Sweater (wool or synthetic)
Warm parka or jacket
Windproof outer jacket (optional)
Two piece rain suit (slicker with rain pants) NO PONCHOS PLEASE (essential!)
Gloves (for warmth)
Hat with brim (for sun, hail, and snow protection (must have some form of stampede string if worm while riding)
Wool hat (for warmth)

Other Items
Duffel bag or sea bag (to pack items onto packhorses -- (must be soft-sided))
Day pack or saddle bags (to carry things during the day- we have some to borrow, but please ask ahead of time)
Warm sleeping bag (good at least to 30° F.) (We can rent bags for you if told in advance.)
Foam pad or air mattress (such as a CampRest or ThermoRest)
Sunglasses (all glasses must have string/elastic strap)
Pocket knife
Flashlight
Canteen or plastic water bottle

Toiletries
Towel & washcloth
Biodegradable soap
Tooth brush and paste
Sun screen
Lip balm
Mirror
Comb
Hand lotion
Shaving kit
Personal medication
Insect repellent

Optional
Candy, gum or tobacco items
Camera and extra film (you may wish to include a disposable waterproof camera for rainy days)
Note pad, guides & field glasses
Liquor / Alcohol (placed in unbreakable containers)
Cash for incidentals, tips, etc.
Fishing gear (collapsible rod is best)

PACKING
Pack your gear into your duffel bag and day pack. The maximum weight allowable for your duffel bag is 40 pounds (for the sake of the pack horses.
Your duffel bag will not be available during the day. Your day pack or saddlebags should hold rain gear, water bottle, gloves and other items you will want during the day.
Your guide will show you how to best strap it to your saddle. Line the duffel and day bag with a garbage bag or zip lock.
The weather is unpredictable; it can snow even in August, so be prepared for anything. Use the layer system of clothing, where items can be added or taken off with changes in temperature.
On May, June or September trips snow and hail are common. The most important thing to bring is your cheerful acceptance of whatever surprises the wilderness may hold in store! 

We are able to sleeping bags, ground mats, and duffel on request for additional fee ($35US per item). Please inquire.