Plan? We don’t need no stinkin plan.
Adventure pals Leah, Carrie and I briefly sat down last week to “plan” a 4th of July weekend backpacking trip. We knew our destination would be the San Juans. I can’t get enough of that mountain range lately. Our “planning” session consisted of us pulling out a map and picking a trail based on wherever our pointer finger landed. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but just about. We saw a trail just out of Ouray that led up to Engineer Pass and it looked like it would pass a couple old mines. The group said, “ok cool. Let’s go get dinner,” and abandoned any further research.
When we arrived at the trailhead there was literally not one single space I could wiggle my car into. The parking area is on the highway leading up Red Mountain Pass, so getting creative to find a parking spot could mean you going Evil Kenevil to the bottom of a very large canyon. Oh well. We went back into Ouray and bummed around until the day-hikers would be done.
Starting out on Bear Creek Trail
3 things we failed to think about when “planning”:
1) You’d think out of 3 of us, someone would have looked at the topo lines. This trail climbed quite a bit very quickly. With hefty packs it was a bit of a slog at the hottest part of the day. With the late start we only went in a few miles.
2) It’s like the winter temperatures numb my brain on how to pack for backpacking. Carrie and I took in turkey meatballs, a pound of buffalo meat*, a bag of trail mix the size of my head, jerky, cliff bars and plenty of other snacks. You’d think we were planning on starting up one of these old mines and living there all summer. *The buffalo meat leaked blood all over everything in Carrie’s bag causing her to be constantly afraid of being jumped by a bear.
3) There were 4 big creek crossings. A good thing to remember is that as the day goes on, the snow melts and the creeks rise. Where you first walked through in your Chacos, you’ll need the Queen Mary to cross in a few hours.
Grizzly Bear Mine
Our campsite had a great front porch
We day hiked up through Yellow Jacket Mine and to the top of Engineer Pass
Hanging out on Engineer Pass looking at what Carrie and I climbed the previous weekend. Wetterhorn Peak is on the left. Uncompaghre Peak (an adventure still to come) is center.
Us gals with Yankee Boy Basin and Mt. Sneffles area in the background
The way to ski without packing in the skis
The most mellow creek crossing we had
We were treated to God’s 4th of July show that evening. I’d say He well outdoes anything we can pull off.
Time to head back to civilization…and a shower.
Good luck to all the Hardrock Endurance racers tomorrow! A very hearty (i.e. crazy) bunch of people will be running this section as part of their 100 mile race.