Return to Hermit Pass, Colorado 6.11.22


Expedition Leader
Almost 10 years ago to the date (minus 5 days) took a trip up to Hermit Pass, Colorado for some hiking and decided earlier in the week to head back after finding my old trip report while doing some searching ( ) for some places to go hiking. The plan was to head up to the pass early to avoid as much traffic as possible since its a narrow 4x4 route in many spots and hike Hermit Peak and then see if I could find away to hike up to Rito Alto Peak or just head back to San Isabel Lake. As thing would have it things didn't quite pan out as planned but more on that in a second.

End of the road due to the snow. On my first trip here the road was still covered in the same area.

The view from Hermit Peak


Almost back to the truck.

Even though it was a unplanned short day it was still worth it to get and explore.


Expedition Leader
Reason for the short day.

Just outside of the tree line and right before the picture of my truck next to a snow bank on the road. I had came across a father and son coming back down the mountain in their Volkswagon CUV and stopped to talk with them (noticed that they looked like to be on their donut tire). They had gotten lost looking for Isabel Lake near Rye, Colorado but the GPS in their car had directed them up this road. The father mentioned that the road was snow block and that their car was having issues so they were head back down. I didn't give much thought to it outside of why did you follow your GPS up this mountain road in your vehicle thats not really meant for it. I showed them the map where the lake was at that they were planning to go and we parted ways. Not a short ways later I noticed what appear to be oil on the ground (see above photo, I had no means to clean it) and a trail of it head back down the trail.

That would explain my their car was having problems when they got the flat tire they damaged their oil pan in the process. Again, not giving much thought to it I headed up the trail till I was stopped by snow and began hiking up to Hermit Peak. All the while I was thinking about the father and son and their damaged vehicle going down the mountain. After taking in the views I opted to forgo any further hiking and head back down the mountain to check on them. While descending the mountain I kept my eye out for any signs of them. I finally found them just short of the trail off to the side of the trail in brush. I got out to check on them and asked if they wanted a tow back into town to meet their ride (he had called a friend prior to me meeting back up with them) the father reluctantly agreed (was really down).

I got them towed the last 5-6 miles back into town to the gas station to meet their ride. Come to find out I was towing them on the original car rim since the spare tire had become shredded on the trail and they managed to put the original tire back on at some point only for it to meet the same fate. The engine had taken a dirt nap at some point on their descent down the mountain and they had been coasting up to the point that I found them (really lucky there). Joke with his son that they had a quite the adventure today even though it wasn't their planned one.

Checked on them one last time at the gas station before rolling up my recovery gear and heading back home. Not quite the day I had planned but glad I could help.


K5 Camper guy
That's how you earn karma points. Sucks you had to cut the hike short, but you did the right thing considering the guy and his kid were not prepared for what they got into.

I've run around a bunch in that area over the last 20 years and kinda surprising just how far off the mark his GPS was. That's a solid 50-mile blunder, not to mention having to climb up and over Hardscrabble on Hwy 96.

It's not the first time it's happened nor will it be the last. I ran across a Mazda CX3 near the top of the Tin Cup pass where the story I got was the guy said his GPS that was the quickest way from the Taylor Reservoir to Salida. It's most certainly the most direct route but not the quickest. 4 flat tires, crushed rocker panels, exhaust and front/rear facias chewed up on the rocks. Tow outfit said it was $100/hr from when they left the yard to when they got back with his wrecked car on the back.

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