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Category: Exploring

Three Baldy Mountains in the West Elk Wilderness

Friday & Saturday, September 9-10, 2022

This weekend I needed to be home on Sunday to get prepared for an upcoming river trip, but I still wanted to make sure I got out into the mountains for a hike on Saturday morning. I was originally thinking about heading up into the San Juan Mountains somewhere, but the weather forecast for that part of the state wasn’t looking too good, so I had to look elsewhere for a more favorable forecast. After getting a little taste of the West Elk Wilderness on our failed backpacking trip last month, I decided to head back up into the West Elk Mountains this weekend to hike a couple ‘Baldy Mountains’ from the southern end the range. Since Diane and I had hiked though part of the very scenic Mill Creek valley last time, this time I wanted to stay high on the ridges above treeline for more expansive views of the area.

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Southern Sawatch: Antora Meadows & Windy Point

Friday, September 2, 2022

After spending the night next to the rushing waters of Willow Creek, I actually slept in past sunrise for a change since I had already climbed Parkview Mountain the evening before and had no other plans for first thing in the morning. Today I was going to be driving a couple hours to the very southern tip of the Sawatch Range where I had originally planned to spend the rest of the weekend. However, after driving south through Silverthorne, Leadville, Buena Vista and then over Poncha Pass to Bonanza, I just wasn’t feeling like I was into the trip anymore and decided I would probably be heading home later today instead.

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Rabbit Ears Range: Parkview Mountain Fire Lookout

Fire Lookouts Extravaganza | Thursday, September 1, 2022

After visiting a couple Fire Lookouts in the morning, I made my way back to North Park in the afternoon via the Cache La Poudre River and Cameron Pass and then headed south over Willow Creek Pass. Just on the other side of the pass I drove up the switchbacks of an old mining road that joined up with the Continental Divide Trail on the southern flank of Parkview Mountain, which at 12,296 feet is the highest point in the Rabbit Ears Range. On top of Parkview Mountain is the final Fire Lookout that I planned to visit on this trip and it’s also the second highest lookout in the United States after the one on top of Fairview Peak in the Sawatch Range. I was originally planning to camp near the end of the road and then hike to the summit in the morning, but since there were still three hours until sunset and the weather was looking good, I decided to hike up this evening.

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Fire Lookouts Extravaganza in the Rocky Mountains

Tuesday – Thursday, August 30 – September 1, 2022

Since I was going to be hiking in the Snowy Range while staying for two nights at the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming, I thought it would be fun to spend some of my time visiting other Fire Lookouts and Towers that are still standing in the surrounding area. Below are a couple photos from each of the four other lookouts that I visited which include Jay’s Roost, Kennaday Peak Lookout, Blackhall Mountain Lookout and the Deadman Lookout Tower in Colorado. I haven’t really spent any time in these mountain ranges along the border of Colorado and Wyoming before (my closest foray up until this trip was to Hahns Peak), so checking out these lookouts was a great introduction to the area.

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Weminuche Wanderings: Lime Mesa to Overlook Point

Mountain View Crest of the Weminuche Wilderness
Friday – Saturday, August 26-27, 2022

Since I was going to be leaving after work on Monday afternoon for a weeklong trip into northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, I wanted to be home on Sunday to make sure that I was prepped and packed for the trip, so that left me with only one day this weekend to get out hiking. My plans for last weekend had been thwarted by stormy weather in the high country, so I decided to retry part of those plans with a short hike into the Weminuche Wilderness from the end of the road on Lime Mesa between Silverton and Durango. As usual, I left right from work on Friday afternoon and headed south on the Million Dollar Highway and was able to watch the most recent storm system clearing out as I drove over Red Mountain Pass, Molas Pass and Coal Bank Pass through the heart of the San Juan Mountains. After reaching the very northern tip of the Animas River Valley I headed up the Missionary Ridge Road in search of a campsite to spend the night.

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