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Not a BB trip, but still a good read. Enjoy! August 2007 (In Two Parts)

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Offline tornados_blow

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This is from my trip in July/August 2007.  I never wrote it down till now, because I was waiting for the pain to heal before I did.  I think I still come across as a bit angry, but oh well.  Here it is.  We went to the South San Juans in Colorado. Enjoy and learn how not to backpack!



A River, No Water, and a Laptop Computer
How Not to Backpack

Intro and Arrival

There are times in life where you realize youíve made a mistake.  No matter how hard we may try to avoid mistakes, they can seem to come up and bite you when you least expect it.  Sometimes one mistake can lead to several.  I made a huge mistake the summer of 2007.  It stemmed from some assumptions that I felt did not need to be voiced.  I always heard the line ďTo assume makes an ass out of u and me.Ē  I assume youíve heard it.  So what possible assumptions could I have made that would lead to the ideal example of how NOT to backpack in the Colorado Wilderness?  Read on, and Iíll tell you.

In the winter of 2006/07 I had the grand idea of backpacking into the South San Juan Wilderness in Southern Colorado.  I had been backpacking before in 2002 and I had day hiked many places.  I felt I was knowledgeable on the activity of backpacking, but not real experienced.  I felt I could advise and guide someone that had never been backpacking in the Colorado Wilderness due to my large interest and research.  This was my first and greatest mistake that I made during this adventurous endeavor.  All the turmoil and miscalculations can be traced to this one assumption that I made that winter.  My other mistaken assumption that I made was thinking my partners would research and read about backpacking.  My backpacking buddies did no research that I am aware of prior to this trip.

In my defense, because I really need one, the trip was planned to be 4 of us.  My friend Andrew was supposed to join us on this trip.  He has much more backpacking experience than I.  He would have been a welcome voice of experience during the struggles that persisted during this trip.  However, due to issues beyond his control he was not able to join us.  In retrospect that should have resulted in the death of the trip.  I pushed onward and began thinking I had enough knowledge and skill to get anybody into and out of the Colorado Wilderness with success.  I was wrong.  Nobody died on the trip and beyond a few bruised egos there were no lasting scars.  Things could have taken a much different course due to my lack of experience and leadership. 

So who were my backpacking compadres?  One of them was my Brother-in-Law Kris, who is married to my oldest sister and lives in Dallas/Fort Worth.  He had no experience and no knowledge of how or even why to backpack.  He is a good sport and is always up for trying something new.  So I thought he would be a good candidate for taking on the trip.   My biggest concern was the physical conditioning required to hike with a 45 to 50 pound backpack for hours up steep grades at high altitudes.  This turned out to be a valid concern during the trip, because he was not in great shape physically.  I knew that his knowledge was lacking.  I did my best to inform him about all the equipment that he would need and not need.  Equipment wise I feel that Kris was nearly as prepared as I was.  In retrospect, I donít feel that Kris was physically or emotionally prepared for this trip.  It seems I focused on his equipment list nearly exclusively.  He wasnít prepared for how hard it would be to hike at 11,000 feet with a backpack on.  Nor was he prepared to leave all communication with family behind.  He didnít have any type of survival mindset.  I donít think I could have fully prepared him, but I definitely could have done a better job.

My other trail buddy was also named Chris.  He is a friend that lives here in San Antonio that I had gotten to know pretty well.  Chris told me he had been backpacking before in New York.  Once again, I assumed he had knowledge that he did not actually have.  I have come to know that Chris is a city dweller.  He is an internet and cell phone junkie.  He must have coffee and it must be up to his standards.  He doesnít like to spend money unless it makes sense to.  Assuming he had the knowledge necessary, I didnít really focus on telling Chris what to expect and what to bring for equipment.  This was a big mistake.  I do know that Chris was in better shape than the other two of us.  With proper equipment he would have been more than fine.

Note:  To simplify things from here on out I am going to refer to Kris and Chris as K and C respectively.

So my Tacoma pickup and us head out of San Antonio via Dallas to pickup K.  Itís a 15 to 16 hour drive to Antonito, Colorado where we were staying.  We arrived at around 6 if I recall and settled in for the night.  Antonito is a small town and saying that is making it sound bigger than it is.  It is a tiny town.  Especially compared to the cities we were coming from.  That didnít really matter though, because that was the point of the trip.  Getting away from the city life and hustle and bustle was and is the whole point of backpacking.  We ate at one of the only restaurants we could find, which happened to be a Mexican food restaurant.  We had a good nights sleep in the Railroad Inn.  I donít highly recommend the Railroad Inn, but if you are going to the South San Juan, it is one of the nearest places to stay for a hot shower and bed.  We went to sleep feeling exciting and anxious to be heading out into Godís beautiful country.  I had no idea what was in store for us out there.  I only hoped to have fun.

The Plan

The plan was pretty simple, however, simple turned out to be difficult in this case.  Our group of three was to leave Antonito and drive to the Three Forks Trailhead in the South San Juan Wilderness at 10,200 foot elevation.  From there we would depart on foot with our destination set for Blue Lake at 11,500 foot elevation.  We would camp there for three nights, allowing us to day hike and really soak in the beauty of the area.  I had planned climbs of Conejos Peak and also a climb up to the Continental Divide.  This portion of our trip was to be slow and relaxing.  After spending three nights in the South San Juan, we were going over to the Sangre De Christo Mountains to camp and climb Mount Lindsey.  The Sangres are a much meaner mountain range with jagged peaks and steep slopes.  The South San Juans are very gentle mountains that most people can climb and hike in.

The hike to Blue Lake is about 5 miles with a 1300 foot elevation gain.  For anybody reasonably knowledgeable about hiking, that should be a cakewalk.  I knew we had to cross the Conejos River at about the 2 mile mark and then we would have to cross the Rita Azul several times on our hike up hill.  It is a beautiful hike through meadows and trees with glimpses of mountains in the distance.  I had thought about this trail and these plans for months.  I knew the map very well for having stared at it and daydreamed about what it would be like.  I had every detail thought out and planned for.  I thought it was all going smoothly.  I didnít know that we would never make it to the Sangres.  Hell, we didnít even make it to Blue Lake the first day.

The Trail

We awoke in Antonito on Sunday morning.  We leisurely checked out of the hotel and got some breakfast.  I didnít think there was any need to hurry, due to the hike in being so short.  I figured we could hike the 5 miles to Blue Lake in less than 3 hours.  We got to the trailhead around 10:30 and hit the trail with all of our stuff.  Except for some boot suckiní mud in the trail, we cruised the first two miles.  Everything was going beautifully.  It was quiet and the scenery was far above average compared to most of Texas.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself to the point of feeling a little bit cocky.  I felt like I had pulled it off.  I tackled all the logistics of getting the three of us into the South San Juan Wilderness with all the equipment we needed.  I was the bees knees, yeah, I was the crap.  That feeling was short lived however.

At the 2 mile mark we came upon the Conejos River.  The same river we followed nearly the whole way from Antonito in the truck and had hike along for 2 miles.  It was significantly smaller at this elevation compared to lower down, but it was no slouch of a river.  Well, I had read online that one should take off their boots and cross the river barefoot in order to keep their boots dry.  This made sense to me, because I know that rule number one is to take care of your feet when you backpack.  We all proceeded to de-boot ourselves.  C steps into the river for a minute and tries to walk across and immediately comes back out claiming it is too hard to cross.  He began to try finding a different way across.  So I am next.  I forget to grab my walking stick before stepping into the rushing river.  I make my way out into the current.  The water is moving fast and is up to my mid-thigh. 

Why did I rush into the river?  Well, it was probably due to the cockiness I was feeling moments before.  It is also because I felt I had researched how to cross the river here.  I read to go barefoot and so I did.  If I had my walking stick I might have made it across without incident.  The water is coldÖVery cold.  The rocks are hard and sharp.  The current is stronger than it looked.  These three things along with the absence of my stick and wouldnít you know it, I fell down in the river.  I just sort of sat down on my butt and the current pushed be about 40 to 50 foot downstream before I was able to catch the bottom with my feet and stand up.  My body is immediately freaking out from the cold water.  This is by far the coldest water I have ever immersed my body in and I know that nothing could have prepared me for it except experiencing it.  Once I caught myself and was able to stand I figured there was no point in coming back so I pressed on across to the other side.  I soon remembered that I had put my camera in my thigh pocket.  It was dead.  I also lost my sunglasses off my head.  Later I will realize I hurt my pinky toe pretty badly and bruised up my feet.  Other than that I was no worse for wear.

Meanwhile, K had plunged in right after me and proceeded to fall much like I had.  He was able to catch himself a bit sooner, probably due to his height and weight difference over me.  I know he was only following my lead and I hadnít told him any different.  I should have given him explicit instructions to wait till I was across and safe.  I told him that he should tie his boots together and put them around his neck or chunk them across the river.  He didnít do this.  He was holding his boots in his hand like he had picked them up off the floor at home.  In his other hand was his walking stick.  He had a two-way radio clipped to his belt.  He lost all of that when he fell except for one boot.  He made it across to where I was drying off and was realizing that he had lost his boot.  Oh crap.  I figured that was it.  This trip is over.  It probably should have been over. 

K noticed that his boot washed up on an island a few hundred feet down.  How lucky are we?  So K and I are screaming across the river to C, who has yet to cross, that he needed to go down and get Kís boot that he had lost.  Didnít think he was going to hear us, but he finally got the picture.  It turns out that we should have crossed the river at the island anyway.  It is much easier to cross a strong river if it is split in two.  Duh?!  C crosses the river using my walking stick that I had failed to use and got Kís boot joining us on the other side.  After sitting a bit and making sure that we all were okay, we started off down the trail.

One thing I havenít mentioned yet is what C was wearing.  K and I were wearing synthetic materials that dry quickly in the dry mountain air.  Staying dry can be the difference between life and death in the chilly mountain air.  C was wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt, cotton socks, and Sketcher boots that werenít really made for hiking.  Lets just say that C didnít fully dry off till we left the wilderness two days later.  He had a hard time staying warm enough the rest of the trip.  He didnít have any rain gear.  He had no gloves or hat either.  He did have a change of clothesÖmore jeans and t-shirts.  I didnít fully realize how ill equipped C was till this moment.  I was concerned about him.  However, he was in great physical shape and this probably helped him survive the ordeal.  Did I mention he was wearing a Sketcher boot from two different pair?  He had realized that the night before in Antonito.  I just thought I was glad it was his feet not mine.

After the Conejos River the trail begins to climb up the Rita Azul trail.  It had been level to this point and now we were going to find out who was in shape and who wasnít.  Well C was in shape and tearing up the trial.  I was doing fine as well.  K began having a hard time shortly after we started up hill.  11,000 feet can be hell on the lung capacity if you havenít experienced it before and you arenít in great shape.  I hung back with him and kept him company while we slogged up the hill.  We came across several creek crossing that were hairy, but nothing like we had experienced at the Conejos.  We took our time and made sure to keep our balance when crossing.  It seemed like everything was looking up a bit and that this trip was going to be ok after all.

Then it began to rain.  Not a hard rain, but just enough to be annoying.  Then it began to get cold.  When you lose the sunshine in the high mountains, it can get cold fast.  Well, I knew that C was wearing cotton and he needed shelter before it rained hard.  So, I sent him on ahead to find Blue Lake or find a good place to set up camp.  It was going to take awhile for K to reach camp and I wanted C to get to a safer place where he could warm up.  This is the point where that long range 2-way radio would have been most helpful.  We had no contact with C for what seemed like a couple of hours.  It was just K and I on the trail.

K began to struggle immensely from exhaustion.  He said he was feeling light headed and began to hunch over with dry heaves.  At this point I think I said, ďYouíve been drinking water, right?Ē  To which he says, ďI donít have any.Ē  I say, ďWhat do you mean you donít have any?Ē  It turns out that he hit the trail that day with zero water in his bottle.  I wanted to throw him down the Rita Azul.  It had been 4 to 5 hours and he hadnít taken one sip of water.  He was severely dehydrated and my frustration level was at its breaking point.  I immediately pulled out the water filter and began filtering him some water.  However, it was too late.  Thereís no way to magically hydrate someone in minutes.  We could not stand around for an hour here, because it was raining and cold.  We would catch hypothermia if we werenít careful.  I told him that we had to get up this trail one way or another.  I became a drill sergeant of sorts, which is totally out of character for me.  I know the stakes and we were not in a good place for camping.  This is the point where I really wished I had not sent C up ahead.  We had no communication with him. For all I knew he could be lost or kicking his feet up at the lake enjoying himself.  With the way the day was going I was pretty sure the later was not true.  K and I were just flat moving too slow.  It finally got to the point that I told K to throw down his pack and carry his sleeping bag.  I came back later and retrieved his backpack.  We were finally moving. 

We came to an area that was a large clearing.  I saw someone crossing the meadow, which was more like a swamp.  It was C.  He never found Blue Lake, because it was further ahead than I had thought.  I had goofed again.  I was hoping he had a nice cozy camp all set up for us, but I was pretty sure that wasnít the case when I saw his backpack still on his back.  K needed a camp badly.  So we hiked a little ways further looking for a good place to set up camp immediately.  We finally found a nice elevated spot in the trees that would not be inundated with water in a heavy rain.  It was a bit close to the trail, but it would have to do and I could tell that some one had camped there before.  I was just glad to find somewhere that would be safe and get us out of the rain.

Part II to follow below shortly....
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 08:26:16 AM by tornados_blow »

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Offline tornados_blow

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And now Part II...Enjoy!

Camp

First thing to do in order to set up our new camp was to get our tarp stretched between the trees for our shelter and kitchen.  With that accomplished, K could get out of the rain and sit down while he Rehydrated himself.  C and I set up our tents.  My tent was a two man for K and me.  I had set it up before so I had no problem.  Cís tent was borrowed from Andrew.  He had never set it up, so, it took him awhile to figure out how to get it erected.  Once that was done I went down and filtered some water from the creek.  C began to gather some wood to make a fire.  I then had a quick snack before I went to get Kís backpack about ? mile back down the trail.  C and I left K resting and went to get the orphaned backpack.  It was down hill about 200 feet or so and it had begun raining with a bit more gusto.  It was a not my favorite hike.  C went to gather firewood for the fire.  I found the backpack where I had left it and back to camp I headed with it.

It is a good thing that C didnít set up a camp for us when he went ahead.  He had no idea of how to set up a camp in bear country.  Again, I assumed he did.  It was news to him that you can not eat or bring food into your tent.  Also, he didnít know that you have to put your kitchen area away from your sleeping area.  So, in retrospect this is one thing that went right I suppose.  I had asked C to bring some rope.  You never know when you may need it.  And it is handy for tying up the bear bag.  Well, C brought twine instead.  The twine was awful for tying up the bear bag.  It kept on breaking on us.  It would rub on the tree and break from the friction of trying to pull it over a branch.  It was a little frustrating.  Actually, no it was majorly frustrating, because I later found out what C had brought in place of some nice rope.  Iíll make sure I have rope next time I go backpacking.

I was tired and hungry at this point.  I needed food.  I proceeded to cook myself something to eat while the other two continued to try and make a fire.  We had no luck with the fire that evening for some reason.  Eventually we hit the sack before it got any colder.  It felt good to get into my sleeping bag and I was really glad it didnít get wet in the river.  It was close quarters in my tent with K.  He has a much bigger build than I and he tends to randomly snore.  To add to that my toe was severely hurting for some reason.  I was too tired to look at it now; I figured it could wait till morning.  We slept till the sun woke us up the next morning.

The Next Day

We woke up feeling a bit better about everything.  At least I did.  The sun was out and it was warming up fast.  My toe was still hurting.  I decided it was time to see what I had done to it.  It looked pretty bad.  I had jammed it into the rocks when I fell down in the river.  I got a disinfectant wipe and cleaned it up and put a band aid on it to protect it from germs.  It looked like my pinky toenail was a goner.  Our boots were generally wet.  Iíd have to say that it doesnít feel pleasant to put on boots that are wet after you have been all warm and cozy in your sleeping bag. 

Well, except for my toe I was feeling good and optimistic.  I wanted to find Blue Lake before I left.  We were going to day hike to Blue Lake if at all possible.  The other two were feeling better too.  So, after breakfast we left our camp hiked the last half mile to Blue Lake.  It was beautiful, except for the swarms of mosquitoes.  We sat and had a late morning snack while enjoying the view.  They were willing to hike a little further.  We continued around Blue Lake to the Navaho River valley overview.  It was a beautiful view.  We climbed the hill from there to a clearing that had a great view of Conejos Peak in the distance and the Continental Divide the other direction.  This is what I came here for!  I was dying to climb higher.  However, they were tired so we cut the trail and took a short cut back to camp through a swampy marsh area.  It was only 11:00am.  K and C went and got in their sleeping bags and slept for awhile.

In retrospect, I should have gone hiking.  Instead I sat around camp and just enjoyed the sunshine.  It was quiet and so I just sat and was quiet.  I reflected on the trip and how much of a mess it had been thus far.  I fought with myself over what to do, knowing already what the right choice was.  The right choice was the safe choice, which was leaving the next morning.  I was beginning to feel bummed.  I had done all this planning and work to have two quiet hours in the wilderness and know that it was going to end soon.  Nature called and I answered the call while the others slept. 

The guys woke up after awhile and we had something to eat.  K said he needed to answer nature much like I had done earlier.  He procrastinated and didnít go.  I told him he should do it while it was sunny and warm, because it will soon be rainy and cold.  He still did not go poop.  The rain and cold did move in around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and he regretted his decision.  However, he still didnít answer the call that day or the next morning.  So, K and I began to attempt a fire once again.  C huddled up in his tent for warmth and didnít believe we would get a fire going.  We had a rip roaring fire going and we finally convinced him to come out and warm up.  We sat around the fire all afternoon warming up and drying boots and socks.  It was really obvious to me that they were not having any fun.  They were extremely gloomy and I knew that we had to leave the next morning or I was going to snap.

Sometime during our afternoon, C divulged some shocking information.  It was shocking to me anyways.  He had been in his tent using his laptop computer that afternoon.  LAPTOP COMPUTER!  He was saying how it warmed him up.  I said, ďYou brought Your Laptop!?Ē  I almost lost it right there I think.  He actually thought there was a chance of getting a cell signal so that he could get online.  I was in shock.  He even brought an extra battery for it.  I still cannot believe he brought it.  I didnít even bring my cell phone with me.  I now know why he was so careful crossing the Conejos! There can be no doubt that C is a through and through city dweller that doesnít belong in the woods.  I didnít realize it till this trip.  He also brought his gun and a cappuccino maker.  And he brought some pansy ass twine instead of rope.  I donít think he understood that we were roughing it.  A person cannot carry everything they might want into the wilderness.  C tried to do this.  His pack must have weighed a ton.

When we ate that evening, I made the mistake of have some Chef Boy RD ravioli and got a case of Montezumaís Revenge.  I had to go off in the cold rain and make deposits numerous times before it finally subsided.  Word to the wise, do not take Chef Boy RD backpacking at high altitude.  I didnít even give a shit at this point.  I just calmly did my thing and that was that.  It was basically the culmination of a bad trip.  I mean everything else was going wrong, why not a case of the squirts?  I didnít even care.  It didnít feel like a big deal after all the other crap weíd been through.  I drank a bunch of water to try and rehydrate for the hike out the next day.

Eventually we went to bed.  There were a ton of little bugs crawling between my tent and the rain fly.  I knew that K had a bug phobia and figured that he was not going to sleep well.  As I was predicting, we all slept like crap that night.  I hadnít expended enough energy that day to feel really tired.  I was also angry.  I was mad at myself for landing in this situation.  I got us here and now we had to leave.  I wanted more time out here and I wasnít going to get it.  Kris rolled over and over and snored and snored, while I laid there and tried to find some place in me that would go to sleep.  C slept badly in his tent because he had a sleeping bag that was not up to the job of keep him warm.  He had some 10 dollar special from academy that rolled out flat.  It said Igloo on it in big bold letters.  I didnít know Igloo made sleeping bags till this trip.  Igloo can keep a beer cold, but evidently not a backpacker warm.  He flat out didnít have the mummy bag that he needed in this situation.  Not to mention all his cotton stuff was still damp or wet to some degree.  I felt bad for him a tiny bit.  We eventually did get some sleep, but not much.

Last Day

We woke with the sun and started packing up camp.  About an hour or so later we hit the trail going down.  I was bummed.  I took my time and went very slow; because I want to maximize the time I had left to enjoy the scenery.  The other guys went very fast.  K who had went up hill at a snails pace was practically leaving behind a smoking trail.  My assumption was that he still hadnít answered his nature call.  I was right.  C had a call he was trying to put off as well.  A person should not go backpacking if they are going to resist pooping in the woods.  It really is that simple.  Where did people poop before there were toilets?  On the damn ground!  So, K gets back to the trailhead where he proceeds to use what is probably the nastiest outhouse ever.  I think it had a cloud of stink around it.  If I were considering what is more sanitary, I would chose to dig a hole myself anytime over a smelly disgusting outhouse.  Different strokes for different folks I guess?

There was one funny thing that happened on the hike out.  We were getting into some really deep mud at some points.  Well, C was having a hard time dodging it.  At one point he sunk up to his calf in mud.  He screams, ďJesus F------ Christ!Ē at the top of his lungs.  Seconds later who comes around the corner but a troop of about 30 to 40 young boy scouts.  It was quite funny and ironic timing.  Well, we made great time going out and were back to the truck by 10:30am or so.

On the drive out, I was fine on the surface, but I was really furious underneath.  I didnít want to leave, but I didnít want to go backpack by myself.  I wanted to climb a 14íer, but didnít want to do it by myself.  C offered to go climb, but I refused his offer.  He wasnít prepared to climb a mountain.  I didnít want to get him into a life threatening situation in his cotton get up.  I had to step up and do what was right.  The right thing was to just head home, regroup, and come back next year.  Pushing luck is never a good idea when it isnít necessary.

Conclusion

Well, we all made it out alive and well.  I donít feel like we were in serious trouble, but we easily could have been.  I learned many lessons and I did gain some valuable experience.  Sometimes the best experience to be learned is in time of need or danger.  I saw in myself the ability to step up and make important decisions when they were necessary and others werenít able to do it.  I see that I can be a strong leader when necessary.  These are just my opinions and it is possible that my friends would say otherwise, but I know that I found a confidence out there in those two days that I didnít have before.  I found a survival instinct that I didnít know I had.  In retrospect, it feels good to know that I possess that instinct.  I learned a lot about myself in those 2 days and that I think that made it worth all the struggle.

I donít think Iíll be taking K and C backpacking anytime soon.  If they expressed a desire in the future, Iíd make sure they research and were both properly equipped.  I donít regret the trip.  I did have fun and you have to admit it is one hell of a story to tell.  For the most part I am glad that everything happened the way it did.  I learned a ton and I think my trail mates learned a good bit as well.  Regardless of all that may have been good, I really hope this story serves as a prime example of how NOT to backpack.

Three months later my toenail fell off.

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Offline Al

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Great story! Thanks for sharing. I doubt the boys will want to join you again.

Al

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Offline okiehiker

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South San juans...
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2008, 08:59:44 PM »
I am on the computer that my daughter uses and it has no capital j and te "h" usually doesn't type... so tis is an interesting enterprise...

I lived in te SSj's for 11 summers and it is an absolutely magical place...

Thanks for te story...
Funny... I have a story about that...

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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I did a 5 day cross country ski trip through the South San Juans during March about 7 years ago. I went with my dad and a friend of mine who was in extraordinary physical shape but had limited outdoor experience. We had a great time, but his phobia of having a bowel movement in the wilds resulted in a painfully prolonged squat in single digit weather and high winds at tree line. The moral of the story is "keep it real, but more importantly keep it regular".


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Offline 01ACRViper

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wow, and i thought MY friends were frustrating to backpack with  :eusa_doh:

that's a bummer your trip didn't go as planned, it's such a long drive up there. maybe you should tag along with us this August if we go up again  :willynilly:

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Offline lighter fluid

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tornados_blow ,
Kinda a downer of a trip but at least you came away with some good learning experiences
and gained a good bit of confidence in yourself through the experience.

I'll be climbing in Colorado a few times this summer.
Let me know if your interested in coming along.

Matt
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline tornados_blow

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Thanks for all the support. 

I am going back to Colorado in June with my friend Andrew who is experienced.  So far it will just be the two of us.  We have to go in June due to Andrew's limited time table.

We are going to get dropped off from the Durango Train and hike the full suttle loop up Elk Creek, down Vallecito, Over Columbine Pass, and down to Needleton to return be train.  We will attempt several mountains in the area.  We plan on doing this over about 7 nights.

I know this will be a major undertaking.  We are worried about high river crossings, but with my previous "experience" I'm hoping I can handle them and know when they are just too high.  We are also worried a bit about snow.  I know we will deal with snow, I just don't know how much yet.

Andrew is leaving immediately from there to go climb Mount Rainier.  I'm not up for Rainier yet, but he is ready for it.

Maybe I'll right up our plan in the next few days on here.  In case anyone might want to join us or meet us in Chicago Basin or something.


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Offline lighter fluid

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Thanks for all the support. 

I am going back to Colorado in June ..........

Maybe I'll right up our plan in the next few days on here.  In case anyone might want to join us or meet us in Chicago Basin or something.



Let me know what your plan is tornados_blow. I have been wanting to get to the Chicago basin and climb Windom, Sunlight, and Eolus.
I am scheduled to be in CO in late June/ early July.
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline mountaindocdanny

  • Diamondback
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    • http://griffisfamilyoutdoors.blogspot.com
Remember, this has been an above average snow fall year and the passes in the San Juans aren't likely to melt out until the 1st or 2nd week of July this year. If you are there in June plan to allow yourself plenty of time for postholing through the snow. Wolf Creek Pass has had 492 inches of snow this year (41 feet) and they are still reporting a base of 147 inches (over 12 feet). This will also mean continued high creek flows during June. I might consider heading into the Sangre de Cristos or even the Collegiate Peaks instead given the early season trip. Regardless of where you go, be ready for snow.

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Offline tornados_blow

  • Roadrunner
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  • 55
Re: Not a BB trip, but still a good read. Enjoy! August 2007 (In Two Parts)
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 11:01:52 AM »
Thanks for the warning on the snow.  Besides, gaiters, anybody have advice for what we will need.  Ice Axe, Snow Shoes, Crampons, etc...

I'm thinking about getting snow shoes for going over the passes, but I'm not sure.  I don't want to carry something I don't need.

I'm going to be there from June 9th to June 17th.  We will probably be in Chicago Basin the nights of the 15th and 16th.

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Offline lighter fluid

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 248
  • Sitting on the South Rim enjoyin the sunrise.
Re: Not a BB trip, but still a good read. Enjoy! August 2007 (In Two Parts)
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 11:56:33 AM »
Thanks for the warning on the snow.  Besides, gaiters, anybody have advice for what we will need.  Ice Axe, Snow Shoes, Crampons, etc...

I'm thinking about getting snow shoes for going over the passes, but I'm not sure.  I don't want to carry something I don't need.

I'm going to be there from June 9th to June 17th.  We will probably be in Chicago Basin the nights of the 15th and 16th.


mountaindocdanny makes a good point considering the above average snowfall. If you do plan to go to Chicago Basin that early I would definitely take the snowshoes. Postholing over the passes would be pure agony.

You didn't mention what you were planning on climbing. Depending on the route and the snow and ice conditions on it at the time you go, you may well need an ice axe and crampons.

I would regularly check conditions up until you leave.
14ers.com should have the latest for you in regards to the San Juans and the Chicago Basin.
 http://www.14ers.com/
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 12:11:19 PM by lighter fluid »
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline lighter fluid

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 248
  • Sitting on the South Rim enjoyin the sunrise.
Re: Not a BB trip, but still a good read. Enjoy! August 2007 (In Two Parts)
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2008, 12:17:06 PM »
I might consider heading into the Sangre de Cristos or even the Collegiate Peaks instead given the early season trip. Regardless of where you go, be ready for snow.

The Sangres are a good choice. Willow lake trail to Challenger and Kit Carson is a great trip with unbelievable scenery. Especially if Willow lake and its falls are still partially frozen in early June.
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

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Offline tornados_blow

  • Roadrunner
  • *
  • 55
Re: Not a BB trip, but still a good read. Enjoy! August 2007 (In Two Parts)
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2008, 01:34:25 PM »
The Sangres were on my short list of places to go.

We are sort of locked in on the San Juans now.  If the streams are too high to cross safely, we may backtrack to plan B once we are there.  Which is the South San Juans.

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Offline dkerr24

  • Mountain Lion
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  • 1424
  • The worst day hiking > the best day in a cubicle.
Re: Not a BB trip, but still a good read. Enjoy! August 2007 (In Two Parts)
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2008, 02:27:37 PM »
Great trip report, and definitely some good lessons to learn.  Sounds like providing each guy with a 'suggested packing list' might have cut down on the extra crap (like a laptop), and more importantly, bring WATER :)  I would have done a 'gear check' at the truck by the trailhead to make sure everyone had the essentials and no crap. 

Speaking of crap, not sure why some won't do that in the woods... you gotta go... you go! :)

With their limited experience, they would need a bit more help to make sure they had the right stuff.  And since you were crossing streams, why no water shoes or sandals?  Probably would have kept you from falling down while in the water.  The extra pound for a pair of wet water shoes would have been worth it to me.

That's one of the reasons I do most of my backpacking trips solo.... I don't have the patience for what you put up with.  My wife really was a trooper on our recent backpacking trip to BB, but then I did have to modify the trip with several days at the Basin Lodge to appease her.  If I had been solo, I would have done 4 nights in the Chisos, making hikes back to the basin for water as needed.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 02:33:33 PM by dkerr24 »

 


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