Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Colorado Vacation- Colorado Trail-Day 1
This is the epic part of the trip. This next post is what Krisiti and I live for. We got up not extrordinarily early, and it was already raining. We had breakfast, which consisted of left overs from dinner the night before and the remaining hard-boiled eggs we still had. We drove up the short rough road to the trail-head parking, then locked up the Bus. It was still raining, but shortly after we started hiking the sun came out, and we started a game of hide and seek. This game consisted of not only rain and the sun hiding but a constant rotation of clothing trying to keep up with the moisture and temperatures. We passed a couple of lite hikers and exchanged iteneraries. They appeared to have spent the night in thier clothes and ate grubs or something. They each had a small day pack and crocs. I could see no sleeping bag, tent, or food per se. I personally would like to pack some comforts, even if it takes longer to get to a destination. They were bushed, and still had to hike to Silverton. They were considering hitch-hiking the rest of the way. We told them where we were headed, and they grunted a little and said "big climb." We parted ways and continued down the trail. The sun came out to display beautiful wild flowers, then hid again behind rain clouds. After about a mile the trail came to a deep canyon. We could see the Animas river below backed by tall 14k peaks surrounded by swirling rain clouds. Every so often we could catch a glimpse of the Durango-Silverton railroad tracks as it paralleled the river. The rush of the surrounding cascading water falls permiated the still forest. It was the relaxing soundtrack as we zig-zagged on the innumerable switchbacks 4 miles to the bottom. Just as we reached the canyon floor we heard a whistle. It was the Durango-Silverton train. We rushed across the bridge over the raging Animas. It was the same bridge the forest service built in the 70s for hikers. Story goes, it was built in response to a backpacker who drowned trying to cross. Krisiti and I agreed that neither of us would have wanted to cross that river, no matter what the conditions. We could see the plume of black smoke progressing closer, then the chug a chuga, and around the bend we could see the head- light shining brightly. I quickly got out the camera and shot as many pics I could get. We waved at the passengers who looked at us like we were interesting wildlife. Then it was gone. Black smoke and the smell of burnt coal still lingering in the air. Cool stuff. From here on it would be up hill the rest of the way to camp. We moseyed up the trail a piece more and came upon some Boy Scouts who were determined to get to an old mining camp just below the pass. They were impressed with the dog's saddlebags and were even more impressed that they were carying the wine. Again I reiterate the necessity of the simple comforts in life, especially if I don't have to carry them. We stopped at a nice rest stop next to Elk Creek, a tributary of the Animas, for lunch. The trail will now parrallel Elk Creek up to the contintental divide topping off at about 11,480 feet. The trail follows the along the canyon passing talus slopes and glacial boulders, as Elk Creek rushes below. At times the trail becomes steep in all directions, not forgiving any mis-steps. According to the trail guide there would be a few level campsites below the treeline. One such place was located just below a boulder field, and on the other side of some beaver ponds. After some wet rock-hopping with backpacks we came upon a camp that was left by mountain climbers who used it as a base camp for some nearby peaks. Protected by trees somewhat, we arrived and sat in the rain shadow of the bigger trees, admiring the view of the near-by peaks. The large can opener looking rock formations were creatively named peak one and peak two. Anyway we arrived about 4 pm and leisurely set up the tent, started a fire, and cooked dinner. We had packed in some Mahi, and seared it in a wasabi-teriyaki sauce. Yum. The dogs suddenly started barking, and looking around a hill I noticed we had neighbors in the less desirable camsite next to ours. A couple of other campers just arrived. We dried out our wet pants and socks, ate some smores and went to bed shortly after sunset. Then it rained. And rained. And rained. And rained. Oh did I mention it rained. Yes until 6 am it rained. Fortunately, I had brought some other creature comforts for occasions just like these. No not an instant hotel room, ear plugs. Something you wouldn't think you would need when you are away from traffic, train horns and children. Well, when large rain drops are pummeling the tent for 10 hours you can see how hard it would be to sleep. That was the problem our neighbours had. I don't think ear plugs made it to thier list.