Once we found the summit the rest was easy – Glissade down to Twin Lakes and head for camp. Since traffic consists of both uphill hikers and downhill riders, please respect other trail users and make sure you know who has the right-of-way. Great. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September. I never doubted the significance of that tatoo on your forearm: USMC! Chicago Basin to Mount Eolus is a 28.0 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Silverton, Colorado that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The days are mild and the leaves are changing, blanketing the landscape in autumn bliss. From this point on we'd be accomplishing the vast majority of all our elevation gain for the remainder of this day hike in. Windom peak was my first 14er. Perhaps a bit of data on the Purgatory Flat Trailhead approach to Chicago Basin is in order...first of all, if you're looking for the easy way to get to Chicago Basin this is not that way. It’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere. I summited Windom Peak in July of 2009 with a group from my high school. SJMA has a participating agreement with the San Juan National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office to develop educational programs, publications and volunteer projects, as well as provide interpretive services. The Falls Creek trail system offers hiking and mountain biking for all skill levels. It was quite a workout, but well worth it. To us there seemed plenty of opportunities to refill our water, as long as we took advantage of "topping off" our supplies when creek/river access presented itself; as a general rule this is a good guide if you're looking to limit your carried water weight as we were on this lengthy approach. I felt a little bad about putting him through that. I had a slight edge of nausea, but things didn't feel rough enough to warrant turning around, so I just kept slogging on, but everything we did today, despite being excellent in quality, was attended with this general lower level of energy on my part. Looks like you had much different conditions than I did there. This part of the Colorado Trail winds through dense forest and gains about 1,400 feet to a nice lookout. epic views, love the goats, we even took a bath in the creek - it was freezing! Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Chicago Basin sees a lot of traffic in the summer months and as a result, it is important to select a campsite wisely. Remember, at this stage we're hauling our fully-loaded packs, and we're already nine to ten miles and about 1,000 vertical feet into this adventure...so, not necessarily fresh, but certainly with plenty of fight left in us. We decided to climb Sunlight Peak first. We wanted to grind out as much elevation as possible before the sun came up. That and all the rocks you have to rock climb so put away those hiking sticks when you get past Twin Lakes. While the train offers many different types of train cars and classes of service, we chose a seat in an open-air gondola car. You might come across a pile of antiquated, rusted cans — or find yourself standing in the remnants of an old miner’s cabin. There are a few spots where the ridge narrows, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Met amazing people and followed the creek for photography shots. Strangely we didn't see any mountain goats but heard they are normally so persistent that you have to pee on rocks and pack out #2 & all TP in bags that they give for free at the register box. This trail junction has some ok spots to set up camp. We found a wonderful spot near the junction for Colombine pass at roughly 11,300 feet above sea level. https://youtu.be/2iDmEsqbobA. There was still quite a bit of lingering snow in early August and for this, we also used Micro Spikes and an ice axe.The return train comes at the same time every day and you have to flag it down if you want to be picked up. Start at the top of Kennebec Pass on the Colorado Trail and make your way down to the Junction Creek Trailhead on this 22-mile ride. This trail follows Cascade Creek to its confluence with the Animas River, where a picturesque bridge carries you across the fast-moving waters to a nice little rest area. Purgatory TH to Lower Chicago Basin - 4500 vertical, 16 miles. Falls Creek offers several pulloffs for parking, allowing for hikers and bikers to customize the distance and duration of their trip. Speaking of using the restroom, the forest service is asking all backpackers to pack out their waste. There were 12 students and 2 teachers, with student experience ranging from basically nothing to climbing at the local indoor climbing gym, to small excursions to places like Devil's Lake (in WI). Stop to read the signs at the trailhead before heading out, which will provide you a brief history of the area along with what to keep an eye out for while you’re hiking around. I have to say that is one of the coolest pictures from a camera of stars I have ever seen. Each mountain has a unique set of challenges and risk of exposure. We brought along our books to pass the two and a half hours that it takes for the train to arrive at the Needleton creek stop, but we were too distracted to read. Purgatory Flats really does offer something for everyone. The train has a knowledgeable guide on board who points out noteworthy landmarks and photo opportunities. Thanks for bringing me along uncle Jim. For a shorter hike, head to the first footbridge — a 6-mile roundtrip hike that follows Vallecito Creek, slowly climbing above the swift, rocky waters before descending to the water’s edge. Tucked away in Hidden Valley 6 miles from downtown Durango, Falls Creek provides an escape from the bustle of town without having to travel too far. The trail from basin up to any of the 4 peaks is impossible to find due to heavy snow coverage still. A bridge crossing Junction Creek on the Colorado Trail signals the start of a series of switchbacks up to Gudy’s Rest. We had a GPS route as well as a thorough description from  Gerry Roach’s Colorado 14ers guide book and route finding was still rather difficult. Love the view of Vestal and Arrow from there! Not sure if I'll add the Wind River Range in there or not for next year, but I'll definitely be pursuing my planned Wind River route at some point in the future. Each year this area receives about 10,000 visitor use days. The access point to Chicago Basin is somewhat unusual, but that’s what makes this trip so special. We summitted Windom and saw how crazy the others looked so we went back to base camp in the rain and took a rest day the next day. Wanting to make sure we had a one of a kind experience, we chose the latter. Running 486 miles from Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail offers multiple segments at varying lengths. The basin is a popular spot for climbers and backpackers and is home to three Colorado Fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet). Just remember, if you’ve hit the switchbacks, you’ve gone too far. If you've never done it, I'm not going to say it isn't exposed and isn't a bit spooky, but it is a little bit hyped.

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