La Sportiva recently released a new take on their reputable Ultra Raptor trail runner: theUltra Raptor II Mid GTX. Building upon the battle-tested base of the current Ultra Raptor model, it adds a few new features and flourishes: mid top ankle cuff, Gore-Tex upper, a new black and grey colorway, and it comes in regular as well as wide sizes.
Rather than being a conventional low-top trail runner, the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is a mid-height trail runner/hiker – the line on which I’d categorize it myself is pretty blurred. It features a Gore-Tex upper and – sit down since this is almost a first for Sportiva: it comes in both regular and WIDE sizes! Rejoice!
The Sportiva Mutant is my personal Greatest Of All Time trail runner – and it’s a good chance, it’s yours too. Sock-like upper, tons of cush., knobby outsole, and sticky as all get out rubber. They’re my go-to shoe for any on or off trail adventure, be it a run, a fastpack, or a backpack. This is the shoe I used for my Tour of the Highest Hundred, and Sangres Range Ridge Traverse, as well as many other mountain adventures.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like modifying and customizing them, just like I do most of my gear. Here are some of the things I do:
The Colorado Trail is an awesome thru-hike route! But I noticed while hiking the CT, that much of the time that the best parts of an area you hike through just aren’t really showcased. The trail just weaves itself along a contour line below treeline, and you miss out on seeing most of the high country just outside your grasp.
Are you an advanced hiker?
If so, spice up your thru-hike by summiting a 14er or two (or all of them!) you can find right off the main trail! Below, I’ll describe all the 14er routes I’ve taken off the Colorado Trail, and some high 13er peaks that are also easily accessible. Most of the routes of the CT are in the Sawatch Range, between Leadville and just outside Salida. One is located in the San Juans outside of Creede, CO (San Luis).
For most of these routes, I would suggest dropping your main packs, and taking only what you realistically need from the out-and-back summit bid (hang your food, etc – of course). I describe the route mileage as one way, rather than RT, unless otherwise noted.
For some of these peaks, I do suggest an alternative loop which will ascend one route, and descend another, if you don’t mind missing a small portion of the Colorado Trail. For those options, bring everything, but realize that this makes the hike to the summit much harder. Make sure to time your hikes to miss the seasonal monsoon/thunderstorm weather (start early), and be mindful you’ve brought enough food for these CT alts. – they’ll take longer than the main trail.
After cruising through the Sawatch, I had to once again cross west over the Continental Divide – this time with an unruly bear canister in tow, to dash off the Elk Range.
A fairly stout portion of the tour was awaiting me, featuring some interesting climbing, some fairly loose and dangerous routes, and some unknowns for me with Hagerman, Cathedral, and Thunder Pyramid.
Timing wasn’t very good. It was coming up on Labor Day weekend. I certainly didn’t want to visit the Maroon Bells at that time – an already busy area would be a mad house (lots of people = lots of potential rockfall), so I opted to take the range in a strange order: first Capitol, Snowmass, and Hagerman in the west, then Cathedral, Castle, and Conundrum at the east side of the range; and finally the Bells and Pyramids right in the middle.
I questioned framing this leg of my Tour of the Highest Hundred as a, “Fastpack from Hell”, as the numbers really don’t compare to the Crestones, Sierra Blanca – let alone the mighty Weminuche. A motivated person, starting early with fine weather, could potentially do this course between sunrise and sundown. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my situation, when I left my bike far above Creede, CO in the summer of 2017.