On July 31, 2015 I completed a long-standing desire to cruise the logical, elegant traverse of the Sangre de Cristo mountains from Hayden Pass to Salida. The entire outing took me 14:21:45 to cover the 28.5 miles from my car park low on Hayden Pass to main street in Salida. Full trip report on 14ers.com.
The meat of this outing is ripe for a great FKT challenge and therefore I'm proposing the following FKT route for the Northern Sangres Traverse (NST). Starting at the Hayden Pass sign right on the pass (38.2931, -105.8498), cruise the aesthetic ridge line over 17 USGS-marked summits (see list below) and ending at the Rainbow Trail parking area on Chaffee County Road 108 (38.4766, -106.0019). This FKT segment is 22.5 miles and my time was 12:52:28. This is a low-hanging FKT for sure--I hadn't been on this traverse before and faced a lot of uncertainty. Most notably was the single water-refill. I dropped ~700' to West Creek Lake to fill up but on my return back up to the ridge I found a strong water flow roughly 150' below the ridge. The time savings there is roughly an hour.
It's possible (and natural) to skirt one or two minor, unmarked points along the ridge but crossing the 17 USGS-marked summits along the way is how I defined my traverse. Those summits are:
Galena Peak - 12,461'
Mount Otto - 12,865’
Bushnell Peak - 13,105’ (Bonus: Fremont County High point)
Twin Sister South - 12,730’
Twin Sister North - 13,012
Red Mountain - 12,994’
Hunts Peak - 13,071’
Simmons Peak - 12,050'
Communications Towers - 11,695’
Methodist Mountain - 11,707’
Most of the traverse is no-trail class two with plenty of rock and talus hopping. It's not super runnable but could go much faster than my time. I have a CalTopo map marked with my GPS data from my outing with some key points marked. The one major bummer of the traverse is the large-area tree blowdown area between Simmons Peak and the Communications Towers peak. It's best to stay on the east side of the ridge and down about 100' vertical to avoid the gnarliest of the blowdown. Otherwise this is an awesome aesthetic outing with tons of above-treeline miles.
Awesome ridge cruising: