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TR: Silverton to Wolf Creek Pass

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This year's 10 day boy's trip kept us in the 'backyard'. The Weminuche Wilderness Area is Colorado's largest. What better way to get an overview of the San Juans in transition from summer to winter, than from the vantage point of the Continental Divide Trail and some of the breathtaking valleys between Silverton & Wolf Creek Pass? Traveling the 70 or so miles at the speed of Llama and ending in the hot springs next to the West Fork of the San Juan river was truly memorable. (The actual straight line distance from Silverton to Wolf Creek Pass is around 40 miles.)

Here are a few images that do not do the area justice. More were dumped onto this page. Maybe when Rick Legrand (group leader) gets his higher quality images processed, you can see them on his photography site.

post #2 of 22
Very nice Alpinord. Where did you get those llamas?
post #3 of 22
Groovy pics Sounds like a cool trip.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Definitely a great way to 'check out' for a while.

Rick has been renting llamas for a few years from Bill Redwood and Mark Pommier of Redwood Llamas for his photographic sojourns. We picked up the llamas in Silverton from Bill and dropped them off at Mark's in Bayfield after returning from Wolf Creek.

When we hiked the Winds two years ago, we rented from Highline Llama in Boulder, WY.
post #5 of 22
Miles and miles of above timberline walking... I did that trip with my Dad when I was about 14. We didn't have Llamas to carry our stuff, though. We had to put in a cache at cinnamon pass, mostly because we didn't want to carry ten days of food for the dog!
post #6 of 22
wow - great trip! Renta llama - what a concept!! Makes me want to try this some time!
post #7 of 22
We took that trip on the Silverton railroad in the Winter when I was Skiing at Wolf Creek last year Amazing views. Not as adventurous but still none the less a Great Trip!!!
post #8 of 22
Awesome pics! Looks like a great trip! I love the San Juans - definitely a magical place, particularly the Wilderness.

What are those high peaks? Eolus and Sunshine??

Just saw the pics on the other page. You made the llamas pack a dutch oven?!?
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
My knees couldn't handle a loaded pack for that long and tons of vertical. I still lost 5 lbs. with the llamas .....Plus, like our 100 mile plus, Canadian wilderness canoe trips, it's nice to bring stuff like, chairs, table, parawings, separate tents, titanium grill (coupled with custom, reflective fire pits), aluminum griddle (pancakes), cast aluminum Dutch oven (popcorn, baked goods and general wood cooking), plenty of food, treats & wine. , plus 50 lbs of camera gear, including a wide format camera......

MisterK, how'd your Dad get you as a 14 year old to do the trip? My 12 year old is liking the 'idea' of backpacking in small pieces, but nothing major. The llamas offer the option to bring more comforts while going deeper into areas. Hopefully, it'll work to help convince mom and the kid to go for more than car camping or single night, close-in, backpacking excursions.

The peaks were in the Grenadiers, (not the Needles): Electric, Vestal (Wham Ridge) & Arrow. The colors firing off took it to the next level. After small bouts with snow and grapple for five days and a wicked squall, the Indian summer kicked in and it was perfect weather.
post #10 of 22
Great TR Alpinord! Beautiful pics.

As I was reading, one of my Llamas came up to my window...

When I hike with my Llamas, I have to carry HIS stuff!!! Not trained to carry cargo, I use them to keep coyotes away from my cattle.

Thanks again for the trip report, sure would like to try that same route someday.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Glad to be able to do these trips and share pics. After our Manaslu Circuit, Nepal trip last year, I came back feeling Colorado was relatively flat . This trip put the vertical back.

Too funny about the llamas chasing coyotes. The former 'neighborhood' llamas would float over and look in the windows every once in a while with goofy expressions. Our Border Collie tried chasing them out and one of them started chasing him all over the place.
post #12 of 22
Alpinord...I enjoyed reading the thread on the Manaslu Circuit.

Yes, the Llamas are fearless when it comes to canines. I've had my dogs come running and barking out of their kennel right at the Llamas resting on the porch and they don't budge...

I go through Durango when skiing at Silverton and Telluride, do you have a brick and mortar location or 'net only?

I'm looking for a map that shows the hike from Wolf Creek to Silverton...know of any online?
post #13 of 22
Snowfan, look here for a map. http://www.cdtrail.org/page.php?pname=about/colorado

Alpinord, My Father started us backpacking very young in both the Pecos and Weminuche. I remember going from Wolf Creek Pass to the hotsprings via Archuleta Lake when I was around nine. At the age of twelve Dad dropped my brother and I off at Iron Gate and sent me and my brother off for five days in the Pecos without him.... Pop was a brisk walker. He'd always leave us behind on the trail. A few miles up the trail we'd find him sitting and enjoying a nice view. We became comfortable in the wilderness early in life
post #14 of 22
Great link, thank you Misterk.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
If you have GoggleEarth, you can virtually fly the route. Here's our track file.

And 29 MB PDF map of same proposed tracks. On Map 7 we dropped down the West Fork of the San Juan (just south of Piedra pass) to the hot springs and out at the base of the pass rather than driving the llamas down from the top...and came out a day early.

The Trails Illustrated Map 140 shows the CDT nicely.
post #16 of 22
Very nice shots.

I like mountains
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks splitter. Amazingly, these were mostly just point and shoot shots with a Canon SD1000, while getting nudged by a llama foraging for sweet tundra fixin's.

Snowfan, missed the B&M question. We're basically online only, but can hookup for turns, a visit or whatever. We're considering some tuning clinics and some in house tuning.
post #18 of 22
Terry, I would definitely be interested in a tuning clinic...after the flakes fly I could go to a clinic on my way to Telluride or Silverton. Would also enjoy making turns with you, even at Durango Mountain (used to be Purgatory wasn't it?).

Didn't mean to hijack the thread...

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Won't take much arm twisting for a cruise over to T-ride. I've got my annual multi-day pass (check out regional swaps). Season pass at DMR/Purg...errr....Purg at DMR...errr....Purgatory . (Can you say, 'identity issues'?). For locals it'll always be Purg.

I haven't formalized any clinics yet but if some materialize, I'll let you know. Otherwise beers and telling lies while tuning/waxing always works.
post #20 of 22


Beautiful country man.....and nice pics.
This is the in-person, forget-the-machinery(camera) guy talkin'... Somehow, when in these areas....I just want to drink it all in..the sky/clouds @altitude, the exhilerating hike/climb in getting there, peaks(snow or none), rocks, fauna, water....fiddling with the camera is the least of my priorities....guess my attitude kinda shoots my career as a photographer to smithereens eh'?..;-)

post #21 of 22
Thanks for the great pics, they brought back some good memories. The wife and I did the first part of your trip just before you went. Did a 3-day loop from Silverton on the CD Trail to Eldorado Lake and back out by Emerald and Highland Mary Lakes with llamas. It's a great way to hike and pack in that type of terrain while saving the old knees for skiing, but there is no place to hide when the weather gets bad up that high.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
HSWC, looks like you are a perfect candidate for a point and shoot camera. MY 'best memory shots' are taken with a a camera that is easy and just right there at a particular moment. A quick pause or while moving and the image is saved.

MF, I think the mountains on right side of 4th shot are SE of Eldorado. Glad you got to enjoy the area as well. Beautiful place, eh?

Glad we got out last weekend, not this weekend with 4 or 5 inches of new snow. The colors and dusted peaks were great over Coal Bank, Molas & Red Mtn. Haven't seen as much orange aspen like the obes at the base of Purg. Silverton ski area is behind the dusted peaks below:

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