~15-16M (an extra couple miles on the Rainbow Trail)
~1M elevation gain
Comanche Peak (Sangres): 13277'
Venable Peak: 13334'
4 hours moving, ~5 hours total
With the monsoon weather moving in, it seemed like a good time to check out the Sangres; which, sadly, are under drought conditions and fire restrictions.
I've had my eye on the Comanche-Venable loop, which seemed like a nice exploration of 2 of the gorgeous drainages to the west of Westcliffe, CO. The loop supposedly had a decent trail, with two sets of alpine lakes, amazing views, and a chance to scramble up the namesake 13ers.
Most intriguing to me, however, was a section of trail dubbed the "Phantom Terrace", which is a singletrack carved into the side of Venable:
This section is clearly a no-go when snow, moisture, or weather are present. Fortunately, the trail was manageable and exhilirating. But I was also glad to be done with it!
Here's a short video:
The rest of the run/hike was spectacular as well: very green and full of wildflowers.
The scramble up Venable was steep grassy tundra with some rock obstacles to slow you down, and Venable is less impressive from the backside climb -- just a ho-hum endeavor. Comanche, on the other hand, is a fun charge straight up the ridge (form right to left, shown behind me):
The lakes themselves are a righteous destination as well, especially for fisherman. The Venable trail was rockier than the Comanche trail, and ultimately the descent below Comanche lake on the trail was straightforward and fun.
All in all, a beautiful area. Check out the map: there's a trail heading up each drainage (at least 10 different ones) to some impressive peaks from the East, and notable descents on the west side as well. With more route planning and familiarity with the terrain, some huge combined loops could be made.