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Weminuche Wanderings: West Ute Lake Loop

Continental Divide Trail: Hunchback Pass to West Ute Lake
Labor Day Weekend | Friday – Sunday, August 30 – September 1, 2019

Since we just spent last weekend along the Continental Divide in Wyoming, I figured it would be nice to spend some time along the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado this weekend. Since Labor Day is a popular holiday in the mountains of Colorado I planned a backpacking loop into an area of the Weminuche Wilderness that I hoped would not be very busy so we could try to avoid the crowds. The plan worked out great as we only saw a couple of other people all weekend and had plenty of solitude! As for the trails we hiked, they required more bushwhacking and route-finding than I expected, so that might be another reason why we didn’t run into too many people.

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Grand Basin Traverse: The Basins of Mineral Creek

Black Bear Pass to Columbine Lake
Saturday, August 17, 2019

This weekend I decided to skip the peak bagging for a minute and just wanted to go on a nice hike in the high country through the upper basins of Mineral Creek near Silverton. I have wanted to hike to the turquoise blue waters of Columbine Lake for a long time but I didn’t really want to follow the steep trail that everyone else does, so I decided that I would drive up to Black Bear Pass and then hike over to the lake by passing through a couple different high alpine basins and maybe stop at a couple of passes along the way. Now after hiking this route I’ve got to say that it was pretty amazing! One of the nice things about this hike is that it was all above treeline and pretty much stayed between about 12,600 feet and 13,000 feet. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but it didn’t feel like I was climbing a steep mountain and the route offered spectacular views in all directions right from the beginning. This Grand Basin Traverse takes you through Mineral Basin, Porphyry Basin, Silver Cloud Basin and Mill Creek Basin on your way to Columbine Lake. Along the way you have the option of climbing up to two different passes for views into Mud Lake Basin and Bridal Veil Basin, plus you will also pass by Porphyry Lake, Bullion King Lake and a number of other small tarns along the way. This is definitely the way to hike to Columbine Lake!

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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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Highland Mary Lakes & Verde Lakes

Saturday & Sunday, June 9-10, 2018

This weekend Diane and I decided to go on a very early season backpacking trip into the high country near Silverton. During a normal year we wouldn’t even consider going on a backpacking trip into the mountains until later in June or early in July, but with the low snowpack this year we decided to give it a try much earlier to see how the conditions really were. Also, since it’s still early in the season, the monsoons haven’t started yet and we would be able to camp well above tree line without worrying about storms or lightning. Plus, with Highway 550 closed between Durango and Silverton because of the 416 Fire, we figured the mountains near Silverton wouldn’t be very busy right now and we hoped to find plenty of solitude.

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Red Mountain Pass Peaks

Friday – Sunday, July 10-12, 2015

June was a busy month for me that prevented me from spending much time outside and then I got sick over the long Independence Day weekend, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve been out hiking and camping and I really needed to get back into the mountains this weekend! Since I’m a little out of shape, I thought it would be a good idea to start out the season hiking a few easier peaks near Red Mountain Pass this weekend that I’ve thought about climbing for years. Diane and I left after work on Friday and drove through Ouray to one of our go-to campsites in Mineral Basin. We quickly setup camp at 11,600 feet elevation and were soon sleeping. I know that some people have trouble sleeping at higher elevations, but I almost always sleep well over 10,000 feet and this night was no exception.

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