San Luis Peak is probably the most boring 14er out there. It's the most eastern San Juan 14er and is probably the most remote in the state. The Stewart Creek trail head was a good 2 hour drive from Gunnison. 1.5 hours was on Saguche County and Forrest Service roads which were practically empty on Wed night. About 2 miles from Stewart Creek I stumbled upon 3 black bears in the middle of the road. I don't think they were expecting me (or anybody else for that matter). They scattered within seconds so I wasn't able to get a picture.
Upon arrival at Stewart Creek there was one other truck. I chatted with the guy for a bit and realized we were practically neighbors. He lived on 86th Ave in Westminster on the south shore of Standley Lake. Unreal.
I slept in the back of the 4Runner and was up and out on the trail around 0600 the next morning. As could be expected, the approach was long (5+ miles) and mostly below treeline. The last 1.5 miles were on decent trail with sections of scree. 2 couples passed me on their way down and I had the summit to myself at 0930. The rest of the San Juans appeared to be so far away. I could see Wetterhorn, Uncompaghre, Sneffels, Silex, the Guardian, and a bunch of other peaks in the distance. Otherwise the summit was pretty boring. Little did I realize that the day would get more exciting closer to dusk.
I headed back down to the truck, had lunch, and then did a map recon for the 4x4 road to Lake City. Actually it would be several 4x4 roads for roughly 40 miles to get to Lake City. About 2 bone chattering hours later I hit the pavement of CO-149 just north of Slumgullion Pass. I descended into Lake City, hit the general store, and bought a shower at an RV park. I called Meg and let her know I was heading over Engineer Pass to Ouray and then to Yankee Boy Basin trail head. I would then climb Mt Sneffels the next day.
Engineer Pass was stunning. It's not super technical, but you do need a high clearance 4x4. I did it last summer with Zena so I wasn't very worried that it was almost sunset. Upon reaching Animas Forks I turned right and took the trail to Ouray. I had never been on that trail, but since the trail heading from Animas Forks to Silverton is basically a fire road I figured the same would be true to Ouray. Oh my God, was I wrong.
It was 18 miles into Ouray. At several points I thought I wasn't going to make it. It was a shelf road with significant drop-offs and had some serious boulders in the middle of the trail. The serious stuff lasted a good 8 miles or so. It was getting dark and I was by myself. Clearance wasn't so much of a problem (the 4Runner has an ARB suspension lift), but I was really worried that a tire would come off the rim and I'd potentially be stranded out there overnight. Wonderful. Never again would I try a "short-cut" without checking a 4x4 trail guide. I finally came upon an extended cab F250 with Cali plates who was struggling just as much as me. I felt some relief that maybe somebody else could call SAR if I ended up going over a cliff. After about an hour or so we both made it down to US-550 just south of Ouray. Never again. I should have taken some photos or video, but yeah that wasn't happening. I had to change my underwear after that drive.
The drive up Camp Bird Road to Yankee Boy Basin was pretty tame and the box canyon views were amazing. I set up camp at the lower YBB trail head and actually fell asleep quickly. Long day.