Friday, August 5, 2011

It was a great hike!

I believe that I now have a favorite section of the Colorado Trail, at least so far, after 412 miles, with 74 remaining: Section 24, specifically the Elk Creek drainage in the Weminuche Wilderness surrounded by the spectacular Grenadiers. The Grenadiers are a group of mountains composed of quartzite, a hard and weather resistant rock that is rather rare in the Southern Rockies.
I started this 4-day trek at Spring Creek Pass, which is north of Creede and south of Lake City, at about 8:30 on Saturday morning, July 30. Helene hiked a mile or so with me and got a taste of the hike. After she headed back, I climbed onto Jarosa Mesa, then up and down to mile 9.2 at treeline with dark clouds brewing by mid-day. I opted to spend the night there to avoid being up in the exposed alpine landscape with lighting bolts shooting all around (an event that actually never happened anywhere near me anytime during this trek). I was up at five the next two mornings...hiked over the Colorado Trail's high point at 13,271', and made it to an un-named lake at mile 5.7 of Section 23 before the clouds kept me back once again. After a rainy night (the un-named lake is now called "Rained All Night Lake"), I was on the trail again before 6am, hiked through some cold rain just beyond Stony Pass into Section 24, and had clear enough skies to scoot across some high exposed alpine and down into Elk Creek. The final half mile before dropping off the high ridge greeted me with wind, cold rain and thick fog (but no electricity). As I descended into the drainage, the fog and rain slowly cleared and the spectacular landscape began to reveal itself. Wow, it was gorgeous...incredible rocky mountains, vibrant wildflowers and multi-textured skies combined to make a most memorable and striking section of the hike. I had to hike a few more miles down the trail to find a suitable place to hike, making for a 20-mile day, but an easier 12 miles for the last day's hike. My final day included seeing and hearing the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that travels along the Animas River and a long but rewarding climb out of the Animas River valley to Molas Pass and the end of another 53 miles of the CT. More photos can be found at my facebook page!/media/set/?set=a.1884093183433.2093698.1274464053&type=1.

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