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West Needle Mountains: Crater Lake

Saturday & Sunday, July 13-14, 2019

This weekend I wanted to finally get out on our first backpacking trip into the mountains for the season. I was looking for an easier overnighter that wasn’t too far from home, preferably in the San Juan Mountains, and after looking at recent satellite images to see how much snow was left in the high country I decided that we would give Crater Lake in the West Needle Mountains a try. From the recent satellite images it looked like there might still be a little snow on the ground in the area, but nothing we shouldn’t be able to get through. All of the other options I was looking at still had considerable snow on the ground and would have to wait a while longer. This six mile trail starts out in the Andrews Lake Day Use Area located just to the southwest of Molas Pass and climbs up to Crater Lake, nestled on the north side of North Twilight Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness. Last year our first backpacking trip into the mountains was also in the Weminuche Wilderness, but thankfully this time we didn’t have to inhale smoke the entire time!

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Cinnamon Pass Peaks & Anvil Mountain

Friday – Sunday, September 7-9, 2018

After visiting the High Uintas Wilderness for the first time last weekend, I figured I’d stay a little closer to home this weekend to spend some quality time back in the San Juan Mountains. The summer season in the mountains is coming to an end soon and I’ll be heading off to explore the Colorado Plateau on my weekends in just a few short weeks. Midddle to late September is actually my favorite time to hike in the mountains since they are less crowded after Labor Day, the alpine tundra is already changing color, the aspen trees usually start to change color, and there are less worries about afternoon thunderstorms since the monsoon season is coming to an end. It’s a great time of the year to get in some peak bagging! Last September I headed up to Engineer Pass for a little hiking around this time of the year, so I thought I would return to the area and hit up Cinnamon Pass this time. Although I hiked to Cinnamon Mountain from the pass a few years ago, there were still a couple of peaks nearby that I hadn’t got to yet.

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Sultan Mountain & Grand Turk

Saturday & Sunday, August 18-19, 2018

Originally, Diane and I were planning to climb Stewart Peak in the La Garita Mountains together this weekend, but she wasn’t feeling well when we got up on Saturday morning, so I changed plans and headed down toward Silverton by myself instead. When we woke up on Saturday it was actually raining pretty good in Grand Junction which is something we haven’t seen much of in quite a while! I checked the weather in the mountains and found out that it was storming there as well, but the storms were expected to wind down later in the day and Sunday was supposed to be pretty dry. Since I had to wait for the storms to die down a bit, I left home later in the morning and then made my way to Red Mountain Pass where I decided to stop and hike up into Spirit Gulch on an old mining road that is no longer open to vehicles.

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Aztec Ruins & Angel Peak

Saturday – Monday, July 28-30, 2018

This weekend Diane and I were heading down to Albuquerque to attend a concert on Sunday evening, so we decided to split the drive up into two days and spend a night in Bloomfield, New Mexico. This way we could visit some nearby ruins and maybe catch a nice sunset without spending all day sitting in the car. We left home early on Saturday morning and took the scenic route over Lizard Head Pass and through Rico and Dolores, arriving in Aztec in the early afternoon. It had been a while since I visited Aztec Ruins National Monument on one of my trips to Chaco Canyon and Diane had never been there before, so we started out with an easy hike through this small Monument that’s located right in the middle of town.

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Mineral Point Peaks

Friday & Saturday, August 11-12, 2017

This weekend I headed down to the San Juan Mountains by myself to hike to the summit of a few mountains above the ghost town of Animas Forks near Mineral Point. I left after work on Friday afternoon and after a quick dinner in Montrose I drove over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. From there I followed the Animas River to the base of Denver Hill (12,300) so I could go on a late evening hike to its summit. It was a short hike to the top, but it offered me some nice views of the surrounding mountains including Houghton Mountain (13,052), Seigal Mountain (13,274), Tuttle Mountain (13,203), Animas Forks Mountain (13,722), and Engineer Mountain (13,218). After hiking across the rolling tundra I reached PT 12340 which gave me a good overview of Mineral Point below and I caught a nice sunset on my way back to the Jeep.

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