During the past 2 summers, hikes of segments 1 through 21 were completed, for a total of 357 miles. The total elevation gain has been 66,575′ and the total elevation loss was 61,194′. At the end of the 2019 hiking season, 128 miles remained to reach Durango and the end of the Colorado Trail. My hope is to complete the hike this summer. Click here for the pledge form.
A Start to 2020 Hiking
We had to wait until July for the trail to become passable. Although the snowpack was much less than the previous year, our initial adventure would take us above 12,000′ for most of the hike and would encounter the high point on the trail at 13,271′. By early July, most of the snow along the route had receded enough for the trail to be passable, so away we went on our first adventure of 2020!
Colorado Trail Challenge – Segments 22-24
Segments #22-24: 53.3 miles – 10,819′ elevation gain, 10,843′ elevation loss
These segments of the Colorado Trail traverse the majestic San Juan Mountains in Hinsdale and San Juan counties. The route includes passing through the Weminuche Wilderness Area. It also includes some of the most physically demanding, yet visually rewarding terrain on the trail. We would enter the trail at the Spring Creek Pass trailhead near Lake City and emerge at Molas Pass near Silverton. Joining me on this outing are my brother Glenn, his daughter (my niece) Ashley, Bruce Houtchens and Lance Willoughby.
As we’ve ventured farther away from Denver with each successive trip, the logistics of staging vehicles at the end of the route have become increasingly challenging. This outing was no exception. The estimated drive time from Denver to the terminus of our hike at Molas Pass is 6.5 hours. The time to travel from Molas Pass to the beginning of the route (via highway) is 4 hours. In an effort to cut some time off of that 10.5 hour trip, we’ve elected to drive over Cinnamon Pass, a part of the Alpine Loop 4WD Scenic Route. We not only hope to save some time, but also look forward to taking in the amazing scenery of the Alpine Loop.
07/13/20 – I picked up Lance at 6 am and we began our trip toward Silverton. At the same time, Glenn, Ashley and Bruce left from Glenn’s house. We planned to rendezvous at Little Molas Lake at around 1 pm. We made pretty good time, only stopping for gas and a quick lunch. Oh, and I also had the opportunity to meet one of San Juan County’s finest deputies as we pulled out of Silverton. Who would have guessed that the speed limit was 30 mph on that section of the highway? He was kind enough to give me just a verbal warning.
We dropped my Explorer at the trailhead at Little Molas Lake and piled into Glenn’s Suburban for the drive through Silverton and the climb over Cinnamon Pass. The map indicated that we might save an hour and a half by taking the high road, but none of us had been on it before, and we weren’t sure if the Suburban would be up to the task (well, maybe Glenn was sure). Most of the vehicles on the Alpine Loop road were OHV’s (off-highway vehicles)…4 wheelers built for rugged off-road travel (such as the Polaris RZR). There were also a lot of Jeeps and some Toyotas of various models. The road passed through Animas Forks, a ghost town from the mining era, as we made our way up Cinnamon Pass.
Animas Forks Seen From the Cinnamon Pass Road
We topped out at 12,620′ on the pass and descended toward Lake City at the other end. We encountered a group of bighorn sheep as we descended and upon arriving in Lake City, located a place for an early dinner…the Packer Saloon and Cannibal Grill. Named after the infamous cannibal, Alferd Packer, this place was the obvious choice for dinner! Lake City is the site of the 1874 Alferd Packer massacre. We had burgers and reuben sandwiches.
After dinner, we drove to the Spring Creek Pass trailhead and began our hiking adventure. We hiked in about 2.5 miles to a water source and made camp in the trees nearby (elevation 11,430′). On the way, we came across a large flock of domesticated sheep grazing on the grasses along the trail. A sheep herder and his trailer were stationed down the hill from the sheep. Overnight, we could hear a group of coyotes howling repeatedly. Perhaps looking for a feast of mutton! Click on PREV POST to see Jerry’s start.