Friday, July 10, 2009

Wonderful Weminuche

Well you know, it's July and for John and me that means it's time to head to higher elevations--this year we hit 12,000 ft! We left Wednesday afternoon, July 1 and headed down towards Lake City, Colorado and the Rio Grande Reservoir. From there we forded the Rio Grande River and took off up the Ute Creek Trail into the Rio Grande National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness.

We've been close to here before--last year we backpacked from the Pine River/Weminuche Creek trail which starts just before the reservoir. This year's trip was 6 or 7 more miles down the bumpy "improved" road.

Back to the can see the walkway leading up to it--it was fine for the first 2/3 and a little iffy towards the end, but we just plowed through with our trekking poles and kept going!

A 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms had haunted us for the past week--the weather forecast seemed set in stone and seemed to follow the same pattern we'd seen all spring! We lucked out though! NO RAIN! One thunderstorm at about 11,000 feet the night of my birthday and other than that, skies like this:

This picture was taken high up on the Continental Divide Trail that we merged onto after the junction for Twin Lakes. Neither of us had ever hiked on the CDT and it was amazing! So well maintained!

Lots of people have asked what we ate...mostly dehydrated stuff for breakfast and dinner--Mountain House makes great granola with blueberries and good lasagna too! We plan to start making some stuff of our own though. Lunches, we've decided, should be almonds, dried fruit, and string cheese. Things like tortillas make us too tired. Clif bars, Honey Stinger bars and Paydays are fabulous snacks!

We also worked hard to get our backpacking weight down this year. When we left for our trip, with our packs containing EVERYTHING we'd need, including some water to start with, each of our packs weighed 31 lbs. That's our lowest weight ever. When we got home mine was 24 lbs and John was 26! Sweet. You can see here that my pack is WAY lower than the top of my head--we saw one poor guy whose pack went from his tailbone to about a foot above his head! Too much weight!

The Weminuche is remote, but beautiful. We've seen elk, deer, moose, and yes, a bear out there--they aren't used to people so they always run. This place is filled with rolling meadows and valleys, and beautiful mountains and creeks! We love it here--even when I get a little loopy and can't remember if I purified the water or not! (I did, we discovered the next morning when I found the empty tablet packets.)

One piece of advice: The Chicago Basin area is SUPER popular, so I say avoid it! Why go somewhere where you'll see 50 to 100 people a day? From Thursday at 3:00 p.m. when we got to our first camp site, to Monday at 10:00, about an hour from the trailhead, we saw SEVEN people. SEVEN. 4 of those were on Saturday in about a 2 hour span on the CDT, and the other three were within 3.5 miles of our car.

So all went well and we finally, finally had a perfect summer trip! Coming up: Crested Butte and Te-Ah!