First, I apologize about the lack of pictures but the internet here is a little slow for uploading such large files. As soon as I am at a faster connection, I’ll make getting those uploaded my priority.
So. First the good news. Durango is beautiful! The people here are very friendly, and the town itself is just delightful. Accessible, lots of green and plenty of walking with lovely sights like the Animas River (which flows through it.)
The hotel I’m staying in is the Day’s End Motel on Main Ave. and it’s very nice. Clean, comfortable, quiet, and it backs up onto the Animas River Walk, which is a long, paved bike/walking path that follows the river for miles. Several times a day I took a walk along the path as far as the Durango Public Library which is a stunning building.
It’s about three-quarters of a mile to the Library, and about a mile to the closest bunch of businesses – really a nice walk to get groceries or visit the outdoors shop in town (because of course there is one.) A lot of other tourists have arrived, and in just the last few days that I’ve been here traffic has increased considerably, so I’m really glad I’ve been walking everywhere.
Tomorrow I take the historic Durango-Silverton Train up into the wildeness and I disembark where the town of Needleton used to be. From there, I’m going to follow Needle Creek through Chicago Basin. From there I’ll take the trail over Columbine Pass – pretty much tied for the highest this trip will take me, a little over 12,000 feet in elevation (the average is about 9,000 for most of the trip.)
From there, I’m going to follow Johnson Creek to Vallecito Creek, and then follow Vallecito Creek north several miles to Rock Creek. I’ll follow Rock Creek up to the area where it becomes a steep ascent up towards Rock Lake, and make a camp there.I’ll stash most of my gear there the next morning and then pack a light day bag to hike up to the Continental Divide at one of its lower points in the area, above the Twin Lakes. I’ll take some time up there for pictures and then it’s back down and out the way I came in!
I am provisioned and prepared for a total of seven days – three in, one to climb to the Divide and then three out again – but if things go well and I can keep up my pace, it might be possible to cut it down to five days.
So I am pretty excited about that, as I am sure you can imagine. I can feel my dad’s approval of this trip – he loved the wilderness and he loved that I was as interested in it as he was.
On the other hand… some unpleasant things happened as well. After the last few days here, I had to confront my hiking partner because it became clear to me that she was not physically prepared for the stress of the trip, and that I didn’t think it was safe for her to come up with me. I told her that it would be irresponsible of me to take her knowing she was at a high risk of serious injury, and that any emergency would take several days to respond to. She was understandably upset – we have been planning together on this trip for a little more than a month – but there is no real alternative.
I am even more determined, now, to make this an awesome and successful trip.
Catch y’all when I get back!