Edge of our World – San Juan Mountains

Joan and I both believe in staying local as the responsible and ethical choice of action.

And for us, that means within a tank of gas round-trip with no stops for food or (obviously) fuel.

Luckily for us, that puts us into some gorgeous scenery.  And with the temps at 109F here in town this past weekend, the San Juans of Colorado beckoned. Arguably the most scenic mountains in Colorado and well-within range for a weekend trip.

And what a different world from our desert home. Not just a mere difference in elevation but also lusher, more verdant, and much larger mountains than the La Sals or the Abajos.

The air feels crisper and a touch more humid. And though I lived in Boulder, CO, more than six hours away, the mountain environment seemed so familiar to what I called home for nearly two decades.

We hiked in about six miles on Friday night and settled in for an evening much more refreshing than what we left behind. It felt wonderful.  Our camp for that evening ended up just off the Colorado Trail.

No surprise on our weekend, but on this CT stretch, in particular, we saw more people out hiking than we’ve seen all summer. Unlike other trail organizations, the CTF has not asked people to stay home. So the CT ends up being an attractive destination for people wishing to thru-hike this COVID year.  I have my views on this topic that I’ve said previously. And I’ll say no more.

Instead, I’ll focus on the reds and greens of the mountains. And how clear and cold the many streams ran.

And how we went over not one, but two alpine passes. And lingered a long time at each.

Our route took in a jeep, and dirt bike tracks, lesser-known single track, the well maintained Colorado Trail, an old railroad right of way, and an abandoned miners trail only found on older topos. And where we had the pass to our selves.

Well, except for some local residents curious about our salty snacks.

We lingered at the last pass since we knew we’d soon descend into a popular day-use area.

But we timed it well as most people left for the day. And we’d arguably enjoyed the best views in terms of lighting, too.

And the last of the summer wildflowers did not disappoint, either.

We made it back to our vehicle the following day in the late morning. Early enough to enjoy a bit of picnic lunch at the relatively quiet trailhead where we parked. And enjoy a last view up the meadow and to the mountains.

Mountains I know where we’ll hike again.

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