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Blue Lakes Trail #201 - 4 members in 12 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
12 triplogs
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Sep 24 2020
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 Guides 9
 Routes 418
 Photos 7,472
 Triplogs 556

76 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 24 2020
Oregon_HikerTriplogs 556
Hiking8.80 Miles 2,482 AEG
Hiking8.80 Miles   8 Hrs   55 Mns   0.99 mph
2,482 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I drove to the trailhead on Co Rd 7 from HW62 the afternoon before my hike . Much of the road is gravel but is car friendly. Views along the road of the mountains ahead and the Fall colors were a real bonus. I found a nice dispersed campsite within easy walking distance of the trailhead thus avoiding the hassle of finding a parking spot in the crowded parking lot the next morning. There are no regular campgrounds with restrooms, tables and garbage dumpsters but there are quite a few places for dispersed camping. These were mostly full but having a 4WD vehicle made it possible to get into a site that RVs and 2WD vehicles couldn't get to.

This is a popular hiking destination so I met lots of people on the trail. Because of my slow pace and frequent stops to chat and take photos, I would meet most of these people twice. Once as they passed me on the way up and again on their way back down. The trail passes through a scenic forest of conifers and patches of Aspen on the lower section which start to thin out as you get to lower Blue Lake. The trees completely disappear when you get above the tree line at the middle lake and beyond. The lower lake is the largest and by far the most scenic. But making the strenuous climb to the middle lake is well worth the extra effort because of the views from the trail looking down on the lower lake and across the valley to the surrounding peaks.
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Autumn Foliage Observation Light
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Jul 24 2019
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 Guides 29
 Routes 329
 Photos 9,686
 Triplogs 920

40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Jul 24 2019
FOTGTriplogs 920
Hiking9.00 Miles 2,543 AEG
Hiking9.00 Miles
2,543 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Still a little early in the season for this one. The uppermost lake is still frozen over and the wildflowers have just started to come in. A popular area even on a weekday. Trail was in excellent shape. Maybe one of Colorado's more scenic trails.
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Wildflowers Observation Light
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Sep 19 2016
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 Guides 8
 Routes 12
 Photos 1,313
 Triplogs 490

57 male
 Joined Nov 15 2005
 Jackson, CA
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 19 2016
toddakTriplogs 490
Hiking14.00 Miles 5,500 AEG
Hiking14.00 Miles   10 Hrs      1.40 mph
5,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Not sure why anyone would drive up to Yankee Boy Basin when they could hike up gorgeous Blue Lakes trail. No snow or ice anywhere on the grueling route to the summit (although there probably is now).
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Jul 23 2016
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 Guides 29
 Routes 329
 Photos 9,686
 Triplogs 920

40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Mount Sneffels via Yankee Boy BasinSouthwest, CO
Southwest, CO
Hiking avatar Jul 23 2016
FOTGTriplogs 920
Hiking6.52 Miles 3,571 AEG
Hiking6.52 Miles   6 Hrs   23 Mns   1.36 mph
3,571 ft AEG   1 Hour   36 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This amazing little wilderness area was our final stop in our short car camping tour of Colorado. I knew zero about the area, but came across it while buying some fuel at a sportsman store in Gunnison. We were looking at Nat Geo maps for Colorado and searching for ideas of what to do next when we noticed a map for the funny sounding wilderness area. Intrigued by the name and area, we bought the map on the spot and made that our final destination.

However, getting there was a small adventure. From a quick glance at the map it appeared Telluride was the nearest town to Mount Sneffles, so we plugged the mountain town into google maps and were on our way. Telluride did prove to be the closest town to Mount Sneffles, in fact, it is only 4.5 miles from the summit as the crow flies. Unfortunately, there is no real vehicle access from Telluride and we found ourselves on the complete opposite side of the mountain range and two hours from Ouray the town that Sneffles is reached from. Telluride ended up being a cool detour and I would recommend a visit to the town if in the area, however, it did add a couple hours to our drive, but all we could do was laugh at our error.

Despite silent objections and a little stress from the passenger, we were able to make it all the way to the top TH of Yankee Boy Basin. In my passenger's defense, the road up may have been one of the most aggressive and difficult roads I have driven, but the reward was an amazing car camping spot at 12,200 feet. I could not get over it, I had driven up to and we were camping at an elevation of just a few hundred feet below Humphreys! We enjoyed a simply amazing night on the tundra and woke up early the next day for an attempt at Sneffles and possibly a trip down to the Blue Lakes afterwards.

The first thing we noticed was the sign at the TH saying the peak was not dog friendly. We decided we would play it by ear, not knowing that it would be the snow that would end up being our biggest obstacle to the summit. Other than flipping open a map, I really did zero research on this one. Nevertheless, we continued on to the short but extremely steep climb to the saddle (13,600 feet) that offers the final route up Sneffles. The dogs did just fine for this part, but I knew it was the final chute that would prove to be the most difficult, so I was not getting overly excited about reaching the summit. About half way up, I passed two guys wearing helmets, carrying ice axes and traction. Both asked me if I had any traction or poles. I said yes on poles, but they are in the car and no on traction. The one guy laughed and said well there is a 35 yard snow field that needs to be negotiated to reach the summit and its "bullet proof" hard. He said I might be able to make it, but others were turning around.

When I reached the saddle, I was surprised to see it was as bad looking and as nasty as the guy had described. I told Jackie it probably was not for her and definitely not for the dogs, but I was giving it a shot. So armed with a stick and about a 15 inch piece of pointed wood that I had found by the pure luck on the way up I took off up the boulder strewn chute to the snow field guarding the top. I met a girl who dejected explained that her boyfriend had turned her around and told her she was not going up. I told her that I was not in the habit of climbing up to 13,900 feet and turning around and they were welcome to share my sticks and follow me. The boyfriend said no way and started making his way down, but surprisingly she was game. I started kicking out one icy foothold after another and switching off with our "ice" sticks until we finally cleared the field. For future reference it takes like ten kicks to carve out a good foothold in "bullet proof" snow and this was a very tiring process. But we made it and after a borderline class three scramble and a wrong turn we were on the top! I know I sound redundant, but amazing views yet again. The views coupled with the challenge in making it to the top, immediately vaulted this one to the top of my short 14er list. Number nine on the trip and perhaps the best. From the summit, it was clear why the poor girl wanted to make it to the top so badly, she had her own sign made and everything, so we took a couple photos for each other and headed back down. Although, she was a little disappointed because her boyfriend was carrying their two summit brews, oops.

There was a little more traffic in the chute on our way back and a ray of sunlight was now on the snow, making it much more manageable. However, the majority of hikers were still wearing traction or carrying an ax, or poles at the very least. I found a nice run along the wall of the chute and threw the sticks back to my new summit partner and did not see her again. Jackie was with the BF and I told her his girl made it, which did not surprise him, but he had no regrets not going up. Jackie was a little disappointed, but I put it into perspective for her. I said at the end of the day, you still climbed a thousand feet higher than anyone in the state of Arizona can climb today and that there was no shame in hanging out at 13,600 while I finish off a peak. She liked the little analogy and we both headed down pretty satisfied with the first hike of our day.

From the summit, I could very clearly see the amazing Blue Lakes that were just a name on our map the day before. I knew right there, that we had to go see them and that is where we headed after slipping and sliding down the chute that served as the main route to the saddle.

The Blue Lakes were absolutely amazing and the views heading down into them almost other-worldy. Other than the additional AEG we enjoyed the area thoroughly and it certainly lived up to some of the hype we had read about the area after the fact. For example, some consider Mount Sneffles to be the most beautiful mountain in Colorado and it is perhaps its most photographed. There was also a reference to Mount Sneffles belonging to a stretch of the San Juan mountains that is sometimes referred to as America's Switzerland. I have never been to Switzerland, but I can attest to it being one of the most scenic areas I have visited and probably equal to some areas in the Sierra Nevada. Just an amazing area and a great cap to my three weeks in Colorado.

Our only regret was not making it down to the final Blue Lake, which from the summit was clearly the most picturesque, but it simply was not in the cards. I had already led Jackie and the dogs up to a nearly 14,000 foot saddle only to drop down them down two thousand feet so they can make another climb to the 12,900 feet Blue Lakes Pass, this was followed by another 2000 foot drop to the first of the three Blue Lakes that would inevitably be followed by an eventual climb out. Not daring to suggest we drop a few more hundred feet and another mile, or so to the final Blue Lake, we headed back after a picture perfect lunch along the lake with the pups.

The climb out was not that and we were happy to make it back to the car after maybe the toughest little six mile hike I have did in awhile. From the car it was the nerve racking trip back down the old mining road to semi-decent road and eventually the very scenic 550 all the way to Durango.
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Wildflowers Observation Extreme
Simply put....a flower lovers paradise above the treeline..
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5 archives
Jul 18 2015
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 Photos 169
 Triplogs 4

42 female
 Joined Feb 21 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Backpack avatar Jul 18 2015
spacetimeartTriplogs 4
Backpack8.60 Miles 2,750 AEG
Backpack8.60 Miles3 Days         
2,750 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
skatchkins
We were able to go up to Colorado to backpack a couple places Michael had gone before when he took his Jeep club up. Since we were just going to be hiking, we took the car to save gas. I have class on Fridays so we left at 1pm right after and Airbnb'd a place to stay for just after dark. The Mine Shaft Inn in Rico was beautifully quaint and they upgraded us since they were not full.
The next morning we drove the last one and half hours to the trailhead and hiked in.
Almost all the rain missed us but the clouds stuck around a good bit. It just made the wildflowers prettier :)
We hiked to the upper lakes on the second day.

Photos on the Android and 35mm Sprocket Rocket with some expired film
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Wildflowers Observation Extreme
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3 archives
Jul 18 2015
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 Guides 2
 Routes 23
 Photos 3,365
 Triplogs 228

44 male
 Joined Dec 22 2007
 Mesa, AZ
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Jul 18 2015
skatchkinsTriplogs 228
Hiking8.60 Miles 2,750 AEG
Hiking8.60 Miles
2,750 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
spacetimeart
I hope you like flowers.
In between off-roading with the Jeep club in 2011, I planned some hikes. I wasn't disappointed then and I wasn't this time.
Last trip, I had the luxury of getting a drop-off at the Blue Lakes Pass trailhead to be picked up a day later on the other trail in from the north: [ photoset ]
This time with a one vehicle caravan, we decided on taking the Honda and doing an in and out from the north. It's always fun to come around the corner on a dirt and pothole pocked road in a low Civic to find two capable offroad trucks slow-going-it as if their suspension was use-upable like a overly-cautious Prius driver's gas. We were stuck behind them for a while and I was getting antsy to be on-trail.

We got to the packed trailhead (mostly day hikers) and started in. All I could remember from last time was the extreme switchbacks on the other Pass trail and this one being the easy option. I forgot there are some stretches of up, but nothing too bad if you aren't all packed out. Close to our goal, the skies finally opened up so we dawned our rain gear. It was good timing since the hail and harder rain came after. It settled a bit and then gave up completely once we figured out camp. I won't give away everything, but know that there is a kids-and-dogs side of the outflow creek and a quiet more romantical side. Choose wisely.

After we collected firewood, Noel settled in for a nap and I took off for the switchbacks to the upper lakes for color popping, cloud filtered wildflower pictures. Again, this year impressed more. I finally made it up to the lookout-and-over and chilled there for a while.

I came back down, we ate and campfired, and it was like we were the only ones out there. The next morning, the clouds dropped almost to our shirt collars so we hiked around the lake waiting for them to rise above the wildflowers. The dragging clouds made for some dramatic photos and again helped with the shadow filtering.

We became impatient and started up and the clouds seemed to rise with us. Noel got to see where I had been up to the day before and although I had already shot all the good wildflowers pics, she sillily insisted on taking her own.

We went on up to the upper lakes to chat with the marmots.
Once we reached the upper upper lake, the clouds dropped back down some and it looked like it could rain so we abandoned the plan to see the wildflowers on the first few switchbacks on the way to the saddle. On our way back down I gathered some dry firewood for night 2.

I should mention that an hour into night 1, my brand new sleeping pad failed. Noel had convinced me to ditch my thin hurtful Thermarest and lavish myself like I had her with her comfy air filled Agnes purchase. I was hoping for better sleep with my new one but I was on the ground every 30min with every reblow up. I finally gave up and even though Noel and I had our bags zipped together, the ground kept snuggle-robbing me of some of my heat. I reckon I'd rather wake up stiff and cold out there than wake up refreshed in this crotch-pot of desert though. I did give the company some loud words of unencouragement once I reached home.

Anyway, awesome first leg of the trip. We made it out in the morning and drove into Ouray for a burger and then on to my favorite part 2.
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Wildflowers Observation Extreme
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May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design
1 archive
Sep 12 2014
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 Routes 27
 Photos 189
 Triplogs 29

49 male
 Joined May 27 2013
 Apache Junction,
Mount Sneffels via Yankee Boy BasinSouthwest, CO
Southwest, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 12 2014
TeamBillyGoatTriplogs 29
Hiking6.00 Miles 2,800 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   0.92 mph
2,800 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
Magical Blue Lakes Mystery Tour De Sneffels Part 2:

This hike was a solo day hike from my campsite at Lower Blue Lake. The route was a lasso-loop up to the Blue Lakes Pass, then up the Southwest Ridge (class 3), to the summit, then down the Lavender Couloir (standard route), then back.
I got a pretty late start(9 am). But I wasn't worried about storms at the summit because the weather was perfect with 0% chance of thunderstorms. The SW Ridge was a really fun climb. There are a few sketchy spots that require basic bouldering moves to get past. They really got my adrenaline flowing. But they are not any more technical than the crux that is encountered when summiting Brown's Peak. The last 1/3 of the ridge climb really takes your breath away(especially being at 14k ft.). The rock is super grippy and solid. So it's a pretty easy scramble to the top. But there is some exposure. It drops off vertical on the left side. So I followed along the ridge slightly to the right side. I reached the top at about 1:30pm.

Reaching the summit was an amazing experience. It is moments like this that I remember why I slave away at work for too many hours a week. It reminds me of why it's good to be alive. I did not want to leave. So I stayed for a couple hours, ate lunch and soaked in the view. Awesome!!!

The route down the Couloir was brutal, especially the lower half. It was step, slide, stop, repeat the whole way down. Then it was uphill again back to the Blue Lakes Pass. Then back down to the basin. I saw quite a few marmot and pika along this hike above treeline.

Bottom line: If you ever get the urge to climb a 14er. This one is definitely worth doing. And it's not too far for a long weekend trip coming from the valley. I highly recommend it. And I will be back.
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Sep 11 2014
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 Routes 27
 Photos 189
 Triplogs 29

49 male
 Joined May 27 2013
 Apache Junction,
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 11 2014
TeamBillyGoatTriplogs 29
Hiking8.60 Miles 2,750 AEG
Hiking8.60 Miles
2,750 ft AEG32 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Magical Blue Lakes Mystery Tour De Sneffels Part 1:
I wanted to make this trip happen all summer long. But, due to a super busy work schedule & other life distractions, I was delayed until September. It was definitely worth the wait. Plus, I got really lucky with perfect weather.

This place is like 'Middle Earth' minus the hobbits. It was awesome. Period.

I hiked in solo to Lower Blue Lake on Thursday afternoon and set up camp. It was a really nice steady climb uphill. Beautiful scenery everywhere. I passed quite a few (10-12) day hikers on their way out. There were about 4 pairs of campers at the lake. I underestimated the cold at night. My sleeping bag is rated for 32 degrees. It got down to approx. 35 degrees. I woke up shivering a few times. There was a previously used fire ring at my campsite, and I was really tempted to build a fire. But campfires are prohibited in Mt. Sneffels Wilderness. Besides none of the other campers had a fire. So I followed the rules. My 2nd night I installed my rain fly which helped a lot with warmth. I climbed Sneffels on Friday. I hiked out on Saturday. I would have loved to stay one more night and have a day to just relax and explore the 'other worldly' Blue Lakes Basin. But time is money. And I don't have a whole lot of either... Oh well, next time... I will definitely be back.
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Jul 28 2014
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 Photos 37
 Triplogs 37

42 male
 Joined Jan 19 2015
 Gilbert
Mount Sneffels via Blue Lakes Basin, CO 
Mount Sneffels via Blue Lakes Basin, CO
 
Hiking avatar Jul 28 2014
The King ReignsTriplogs 37
Hiking14.60 Miles 5,550 AEG
Hiking14.60 Miles   11 Hrs      1.54 mph
5,550 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
We wanted to summit a 14er. Colorado rules say you have to climb more than 3,000 ft gain to be considered a summit. So we camped at Blue Lakes trailhead. Everything we had heard about this place was spot on, it was gorgeous. The Blue Lakes trail was an amazing hike and I would recommend it to anyone. Summiting Mount Sneffels was a great reward. The skree field on our way up Sneffels made things interesting. It was the only part of the hike/climb that was not enjoyable. My friend slid about 40-50 yards down the skree field uncontrolled but escaped without injury. The walk back down Blue Lakes trail was a little rough due to tired feet. The hike overall was amazing!
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5 archives
Sep 27 2013
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 Guides 71
 Routes 98
 Photos 9,967
 Triplogs 1,009

62 male
 Joined May 14 2003
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Colorado Fall Colours 2013, CO 
Colorado Fall Colours 2013, CO
 
Backpack avatar Sep 27 2013
Randal_SchulhauserTriplogs 1,009
Backpack31.74 Miles 2,240 AEG
Backpack31.74 Miles4 Days         
2,240 ft AEG
 no routes
Colorado Fall Colours - September 2013


Prelude:

For those that know me, I’m in the habit of booking a quarterly “wilderness adventure” months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates.

Q1-2013 was the “Salt River Canyon Wilderness Trek” (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=24440 )
Q2-2013 was the “Colorado San Juan Mountains Trek” (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=25725 )
Q3-2013 was the “Himalayan CardioRenal Screening Project & Trek” (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=26703 ) – still have photos from Stok Kangri Trek, Delhi, and Agra to post!

The plan was to also add a “Colorado Fall Colours” trek in Q3 using last year (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset=21834 ) for timing guidance…


Thursday 9/26
Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hrs 22 minutes to travel 455 miles from Ahwatukee to Danzl Cottage on Dolores River via Tuba City.
Any time gained leaving work at a decent time and getting on the road before 4pm was lost waiting an hour trying to climb up I-17 to sunset point (major accident closed the highway until it was cleared).
Burg in Flagstaff and on the Rez by 7pm where we were greeted by a steady rain all the way to the cottage on the Dolores River between Dolores and Telluride.
Rain on the cottage roof made for a soothing song to put us to sleep after the long drive from the Valley to the San Juan Mountains.
FITBIT data; 4.46 miles, 36 floors

Friday 9/27
I had Disappointment Valley on my radar as a nearby location known for wild horses – this isn’t a political statement, but check out BLM Disappointment Valley/Spring Creek Basin (http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/sjplc/wild_horses.html ) and the musical celebrity laden movie on Disappointment Valley wild horses (Watch the 12 minute “Wild Horses & Renegades” video trailer at :next: http://theamericanwildhorse.com/ and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1532296/ ). Abort near Spring Creek Basin due to excessive mud! snow! and threatening rain/sleet/snow clouds...
Afternoon take West Dolores Loop for fall colours - turned out to be winter snow scene loop!
$4.64 per gallon gas in Rico - Yikes!
BBQ a couple of New York strip steaks back at Danzl Cottage FITBIT data; 6.21 miles, 19 floors (10 ft/floor)


Saturday 9/28
Plan to redux Dallas Divide, Double RL Ranch hay rolls, and onto CR7 for beaver dams and Blue Lake Trail hike. If time permits, sundown at Woods Lake.
FROSTY morning - 28 deg F according to my truck (failed to get photo evidence)
Actually start with awesome coffee in Rico at the little shack on east side of town - blows Starbucks away with a $2 cup.
Stop at Lizard Head Pass for photo op.
Stop at Sunshine scenic overlook on SR145. Aspen on Wilson Peak are still green - major let down :( :( :(
Take Lynn to Ophir - get some colours :) :) :)
Gas up in Teluride - Chrissy photo op by the Minersaur!
Stop at Last Dollar Road off of SR62 - plenty of photo ops, but too much traffic to my liking :( :( :(
Dallas Divide - still too early for optimum colours.
CR#9 and a Double R L Ranch - score! Plenty of hay rolls at southern most field. Combine and tractor pick up in action...
Off to CR#7 - an old reliable that's never failed to please.
Stop at Jason Hatfield's pond for photo recreation
Stop at beaver meadow for another photo recreation and lunch
Hike Blue Lakes Trail
Back to hay rolls on Double R L Ranch to catch long shadows
Telluride elk (are these employed by the Chamber of Commerce - they're always at this spot at sunset)
BBQ some chicken back at the cottage
FITBIT data; 7.82 miles, 79 floors


Sunday 9/29
Plan to get to Alta Lakes and Ghost Town plus Lost Dollar Road and Woods Lake redux. Maybe check out Silver Pick Road...
Start the day with another cup of awesome coffee in Rico from the "High Ground Coffee Shack". Find out the coffee beans are from Ibis in Utah - will have to check this out - they're that good...
On to Alta Ghost Town and then Alta Lakes - amazing number of trout visible in Alta Lake - and friendly ducks agreeable to Skippy...
Check out Mountain Village above Telluride
On to Woods Lake via Fall Creek Road - disappointing fall colours :( :( :(
Return via Elk Creek Road onto Wilson Mesa and loop back via Silver Pick Road - Awesome view on Hughes Road - marked this one with geocoded iPhone photo.
Ilium to Ophir Loop and back to Danzl Cottage
BBQ some split cheese dogs...
FITBIT data; 8.16 miles, 63 floors

Monday 9/30
Getaway day, close up the cottage per Danzl winterizing instructions.
Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hours 58 minutes to travel 508 miles from Danzl Cottage on the Dolores River to Ahwatukee via Gallup NM.
FITBIT data; 5.09 miles, 27 floors


TOTALS
211 photos on Canon 7D
323 photos on Canon Rebel XT
53 photos on iPhone 4S
587 total photos to sort thru when I get the chance...
963 miles return Ahwatukee to San Juan Mountains
Prelude to fall colours (not the peak we were planning/hoping for…)
Unexpected winter scenes more than compensate!
28 degF frosty mornings
Awesome coffee warm-up from High Ground Coffee Shack in Rico CO each morning :next: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Annies-H ... 4149051267
31.74 miles on FITBIT
2240 elevation gain (224 floors on FITBIT)







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Autumn Foliage Observation Light
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Jun 14 2013
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 Guides 71
 Routes 98
 Photos 9,967
 Triplogs 1,009

62 male
 Joined May 14 2003
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Colorado Trek - June 2013, CO 
Colorado Trek - June 2013, CO
 
Backpack avatar Jun 14 2013
Randal_SchulhauserTriplogs 1,009
Backpack31.70 Miles 1,780 AEG
Backpack31.70 Miles4 Days         
1,780 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Colorado Trek - June 2013

For those that know me, I’m in the habit of booking a quarterly “wilderness adventure” months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates. One of my Phoenix Coyotes’ season ticket partners has left me a standing offer to use his Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River plus a physician friend has been bugging me to come visit him at his Telluride retreat. So a 4-day weekend in the San Juan Mountains was the crux of a plan to escape the Valley heat. Memorial Day Weekend is a traditional “stay at home, avoid the holiday madness” mark on the calendar, so the real plan was to target the following weekend (or the following after that…). I got the F-150 prepped a week in advance with oil change, inspection, 2 new tires, placed the never-used spare on the specialty rims, and given that I had to put a new tire on the rig back in early April due to an repairable puncture, I effectively had 4 new tires (foreshadowing – take note of this…). Unlike my 2 previous treks into the San Juan Mountains (check out :next: [ photoset ] and [ photoset ] ), this trip was primarily a getaway with the wife and dogs with a menu list of potential destinations.
DAY #0 – Thursday 6/13 After a full day at a strategic planning event, got on the road a little later than I wanted at 6:30pm. Destination was 6 hours and 31 minutes away per Google Maps – the dog friendly Best Western Turquois Inn at Cortez CO (check out :next: https://book.bestwestern.com/bestwester ... Code=06009 ). We arrived at 2:30am local time (forgot the 1 hour time change between AZ and CO), exactly 6 hours and 31 minutes’ drive time once you add in the 30 minute stop in Flagstaff for coffee and burgs.
DAY #1 – Friday 6/14 After purchasing some groceries at the City Market conveniently located across the street from our hotel, Lynn and the dogs and I arrived at the Danzl Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Telluride CO at mid-morning. After some quick unpacking and locating all the hidden padlock keys (Ralph had only equipped me with only the door keys) for the pump house and electrical panel, I had instructions to leave the cottage and outbuildings all unlocked for “Dustin the well specialist”. Dustin had installed a new pump and water system from the well earlier in the season and things weren’t operating 100 percent (more foreshadowing – take note…). Our plan was to head up the West Dolores Fork towards Dunton CO via Route#535/Dunton Road and take the FR611/Black Mesa Road 4WD road towards Black Mesa and Beaver Park and connect onto FR18/Fall Creek Road over to Woods Lake (a primo spot I visited on our last trek :next: [ photo ] and [ Woods Lake Trail ] ) and Hwy145 near Sawpit. We stopped along Dunton Road for a couple of photo ops prior to intersecting with FR611 near the village of Dunton. Heading up FR611 a couple of miles, I spotted a meadow full of wildflowers and open views to Dolores Peak – a suitable place to stop for lunch (and we did! Check out :next: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.79020 ... 1&t=h&z=15 ). We continued along FR611 making multiple stops along the way at assorted beaver ponds, waterfalls, and babbling brooks. At Beaver Park, turned onto FR618/Fall Creek Road and started to climb. Had to wonder if Beaver Park (check out :next: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.89939 ... 8&t=h&z=15 and [ Beaver Park ] ) was an old logging camp and FR611 an old railroad bed – will have to dig into some history. As we were climbing the switchbacks of FR618 I hit the brakes as there was a recent windfall aspen blocking the road. As I hit the brakes, my ”LOW TIRE PRESSURE” sensor was tripped. Well the aspen was too heavy to move and I could hear air pissing out of my passenger rear tire. Since we were on a notable grade, decided to make a 20 point turn and head back to the intersection of FR611 at Beaver Park. Flat tire changed – tire I had replaced in April was remarkably worn since the start of this trip – got to give factory original Goodyear Wrangler SR-A P275/65R18 a major “thumbs down” for durability! Looked like a center tread puncture from a sharp rock – yikes! Disappointed, but unfettered, we altered our route to take FR611 west to its terminus at CR-M44 and head east and then north joining onto Hwy145 just west of the Hwy62 junction near Placerville. Our detour was rewarding given the multiple elk and deer sightings, plus a close-up mother bear and cub encounter. Pulled into Telluride early evening to find out where I could get a new tire on Saturday. Telluride Tire & Auto Service located off Ilium Road was suggested by the locals (along with a “Good luck” and a smile). A “shout-out” to the gas station at Hwy145 and Telluride Road (with the Minersaurs :next: [ photo ] ) for solving my lost reading glasses problem by donating men’s readers that were sitting in their lost-and-found for a couple of years. Arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours after sunset, yet it still seemed quite well lit outside. BBQ steak with mushrooms and asparagus plus a couple of Kilt-Lifter’s to end the day. Ralph indicated that if Dustin resolved the pump problems, water would be running in the cottage. Nothing when I flushed the toilet… Fitbit mileage = 8.44 miles, 65 floors (650 feet AEG).
DAY #2 – Saturday 6/15 Got up early to drop off the flat tire at Telluride Tire & Auto Service only to discover the doors locked and the hours on the door noting open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. With cell phone reception in Telluride, also called Ralph to find out the status of the cottage pump per Dustin. The prognosis is not good – problem with electrical service box (extreme voltage fluctuation) requiring local power company to fix – no running water for our visit. With no running water at the cottage, I needed to pick up half a dozen gallon jugs of drinking water. Also, with no spare tire, our off-roading would have to be of the conservative nature. Scratch “Plan A” to head up to the glacial lakes (Clear Lake, Island Lake, Ice Lake; check out :next: https://adventr.co/2012/08/clear-lake-ice-lake-basin/ and [ Ice Lake Trail #505 ] and [ Ice Lake Basin ] ) at the end of FR585/South Mineral Creek Road and revert to “Plan B” to head up CR#7 off Hwy 62 to explore a couple of primo sites from last visit (check out :next: [ photo ] ). Once on Hwy 62, made the requisite stops at Dallas Divide and Double RL Ranch (check out :next: [ photo ] and [ photo ] ) to see if I could match up my fall colour photos to this year’s late spring photos. No giant hay rolls along CR#9 so we headed east along the highway to CR#7. We made our way through a couple of rain showers before stopping at the beaver dam meadow just before the Blue Lakes TH and terminus of CR#7. This time I was able to find Jason Hatfield’s exact “Teakettle and Cirque” photo location – fence line towards the restroom (large camp was set up at this location last year so I didn’t venture down to this spot). Set up lunch at this meadow and then explored the various beaver dams and side ponds along the East Fork of Dallas Creek (check out :next: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=38.04850 ... 1&t=h&z=12 and [ East Fork of Dallas Creek Meadows - CR#7 ] ). We packed up late afternoon checking out the Blue Lake TH and Blaine Basin TH (check out :next: [ Blue Lakes Trail #201 ] and [ Blaine Basin Tr#203 to Lower & Upr Basin ] ) for future hiking treks before heading back the way we came (Hwy62 to Hwy145) while making a stop in Telluride to walk the main streets checking out the shops plus a slight detour around Trout Lake to check out the railroad remnants – water tower and trestle – along FR626 following the old railway bed (check out :next: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.81151 ... 1&t=h&z=18 ). Lots of elk in the meadow as you enter Telluride. Arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours after sunset (again), yet it still seemed quite well lit outside (again). BBQ dogs with mushrooms and asparagus plus a couple of Sam Adams in cans to end the day. Fitbit mileage = 7.45 miles, 21 floors (210 feet AEG).
DAY #3 – Sunday 6/16 After stopping in Rico CO at the Mercantile Store for some light groceries, headed towards Alta ghost town and Alta Lakes along FR632/Alta Lakes Road. Given I didn’t have a spare, I thought this would be a safe road to take – just before Alta ghost town (check out :next: https://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/alta.html ) my ”LOW TIRE PRESSURE” sensor tripped. Now I’ve been getting a ”TIRE PRESSURE SENSOR FAULT” ever since I changed the flat tire on Friday (assumed flat tire with no tire pressure to sense would trip the fault message), so this message is thought to be real. Get out and check the tires, nothing notable, but not wanting to tempt fate, head into Telluride to check tire pressures and air up. Tire pressures all measure 35 pounds (as they should), I air up to 38 pounds to see if the sensor message is reset. Scratch “Plan A” and revert to “Plan B” – Lizard Head Trail (check out :next: [ Lizard Head Tr to Black Face 12k' Ridge ] ) with a busy TH parking area at Lizard Head Pass. We have our morning hike cut a little short as a thunderstorm comes in from the east over Sheep Mountain and Yellow Mountain. Back at the windy TH, no apparent tire pressure issues, so we decide to head downstream along the Dolores River and have lunch at the Bear Creek TH (check out :next: [ Bear Creek Trail #607 ] ). Trailhead lunch and an afternoon hike along Bear Creek Trail #607. I was surprised by the mountain bike and horse encounters along the trail – never encountered anyone along the other trails the past couple of days! We arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours before sunset (just for a change). BBQ dogs with corn and asparagus plus a Kilt-Lifter and Sam Adams in cans to end the day. Fitbit mileage = 10.49 miles, 78 floors (780 feet AEG).
DAY #4 – Monday 6/17 Getaway Day – back home to the Valley heat in Ahwatukee with some minor stops along the way. Quite the contrast being treated to 4 days of 75degF Hi and 45degF Lo in the Colorado San Juan Mountains… Fitbit mileage = 5.32 miles, 14 floors (140 feet AEG).
MUCHO GRACIAS to the Danzl Family for the use of their Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River

4-days in the San Juan Mountains

Many elk and deer, plus a mother bear with cub

No TV, internet, or cell phone reception

1 problematic flat tire and tire pressure sensor

1 problematic electrical box at the cottage

2 people learning to flush a toilet without running water

235 images on 2 cameras (68 on 7D, 167 on Rebel XT)

Fitbit totals of 31.70 miles and 178 floors (1780 AEG) [8.44+7.45+10.49+5.32=31.70 and 65+21+78+14=178]

Added 1386 miles to the F-150 odometer [451+141+193+97+504=1386]

Practice for August in the Kashmir Himalayas

Priceless!

:) :) :)
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Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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Jul 21 2011
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 Joined Dec 22 2007
 Mesa, AZ
Blue Lakes Trail to Blue Lakes PassWest, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2011
skatchkinsTriplogs 228
Hiking2.60 Miles 1,500 AEG
Hiking2.60 Miles
1,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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bigredjeepchick
Hands down the best trip of the trip.

I really tried to squeeze everything I could into our 1 week CO trip leading 15 of my friends and their 8 vehicles. Each day was planned out by the hour. Thursday was no exception and after we competed Imogene (one Jeep pretty much without a transmission), we ate a late lunch on Yankee Boy, then had the non-hikers drop off the whittled 4 of us at the end of the road. I chose the Blue Lakes Area as our second backpacking leg of the trip for its documented photo beauty. I also used the "highly rated" Ouray Hiking Guide by Kelvin Kent. I personally don't recommend the book. Almost all his listed trails contain no maps (and I love maps); he'd rather fill up the page with directional words.

I couldn't find tracks for the hike so to play it safe, I drew over the mostly visible hiking path in Google Earth, saved it, converted it, and loaded it up on the GPS. I was worried about being on the 13,000" pass too late or if there was any bad weather looming around, but we began with what I thought was enough time to make it to my proposed camp spot on Lower Blue Lake.

We made decent time on the way up. We ran into 5-6 snow patches we had to hike on top of.
When we reached the pass, the freezing wind tearing over it kept us from dallying too long. It also began to sprinkle which really worried me now that I saw the path down that we were up against. 1200" feet of elevation in .8 miles of one foot in front of the other switchbacks of loose scree awaited us. It was a bit unnerving at times. Every time I looked through my camera view finder for a quick pic, it took me a little while after to regain my bearings and balance. If you slip at all here, the bad news is you won't make it back to where you fell- the good news is that perhaps you'll be able to stop yourself on the next switchback below you. Needless to say we buddied up and took our time. At a couple spots we actually had to anticipate slippage and hike a few feet higher than the trail to ensure we landed back on it.

You could clearly see where the rocky switchbacks ended and the 10 green switchbacks began near the hill bottom. The perception problem was that we were so high up we kept asking aloud, why are those switchbacks even there, surely you can just cut across them- the zig-zag looked to be only on a horizontal plane from or viewpoint.

We joyously reached the green to find three things, the switchbacks were still very much needed, the ground was finally stable, and this section offered the best wildflowers we had seen on the entire trip (much better than touristy American Basin).

We continued on snapping pics along the way, passing by the big Upper Blue Lakes that had seemed puddle sized from the pass. As we began the decent to the lower basin we scared up a deer and then our breath left us as we saw Lower Blue Lake. It was wildly the most beautiful view yet. Every photo of it looks faked, every color incomprehensible. On the way down we saw the second best wildflowers of the trip on the switchbacks overlooking the lake there. We crossed a few streams and reached the waters edge and began looking to set up camp. Jonathan scouted then reported the best spots were on the west side of the lake but they were all taken so we set up shop in a nice spot with no neighbors near the north shore. It is a wilderness so there was no fire that night.

Before it began to get dark, Jonathan and Dana cleaned up a bit in the creek but something got a hold of me and I set my sights on the lake itself. Without thinking too much I stripped down to my skivs and ran and jumped in the water to the astonishment of the few nature lookers on the other shore. I used some camp soap and then jumped back in a couple more times for good measure. 100x better than coffee :)

The next morning, I woke early and hiked back up to the upper lakes and then lay near the trout filled lake stream outlet and awaited the sun. As soon as it came into view the layers came off and it was t-shirt weather again. I stuck around for a little while then came back down just in time to put the pack back on for our exit. We left via the trail that comes in from the north on CR 7 to meet up at 1:00 with a couple of the Jeeps that would take us back into town.

This route was much easier but the views weren't anything to shout about. Mostly 3.25 miles of shaded forest on a gradual decline. Where we saw so one on the Pass hike, we saw tons of people coming up against us. This path is the easy way in for sure.

We made it back to the Jeep pick-up, then back to the whole group and on to the Hot Springs in Ouray.
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Wildflowers Observation Extreme
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May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design
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average hiking speed 1.24 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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