Southwestern Colorado
June 2002

map, rollover for photo of Lemon ReservoirWe spent 15 nights camping in southwestern Colorado. Our first two nights were near Durango, in the only campground we stayed in all trip -- Transfer Park CG, with the Burnt Timber trail into the Weminuche Wilderness. Look at this map from the Albuquerque Journal for the little red X at the end of the squiggle above Lemon Reservoir -- that's Transfer Park Campground. [Put your mouse over the map for a picture of Lemon Reservoir, depleted, before the fire.] This was just before the Missionary Ridge Fire started. In fact, as we left Durango on US550, we saw a plume of smoke and a fire engine just in front of us took off along with several sheriff's deputies -- we may have seen the fire start. I'm glad we got out of there when we did, though we didn't feel any danger most of the time we were there.

Next 3 nights were along South Mineral Creek, near Silverton, with hikes to Clear Lake (the most stunning hike) and not quite to Crystal Lake. Soaked, showered & swam in Ouray.

Chimney Rock & Silver Jack ReservoirStumbled upon the 3 forks of the Cimarron and the Uncompahgre National Forest and Wilderness north of Ouray -- fantastic area -- 3 nights, 2 hikes along forks and one killer up to Courthouse Rock (where we saw a mountain goat following another hiker -- that's Mer's photo down the left edge of the page). The picture to the left of this paragraph is from the saddle below Courthouse Rock; in this photo is Chimney Rock [mouseover for zoom].

Spent 24 hours in Montrose cleaning up, stocking up and getting our fill of civilization. Then up to Grand Mesa with an amazing drive up Lands End Road; one great campsite, too many mosquitos elsewhere.

MR & MJH at Clear Lake, then Rowdy LakeTurning back south, we found the Gunnison National Forest and the West Elk Wilderness; saw more diversity of flowers, butterflies and birds here than anywhere else on the trip; 2 nights. Stumbled upon the Mill-Castle Trail north of the town of Gunnison (2 nights); here we hiked through an area burned who knows how many years ago and saw and smelled smoke from current fires.

Last night was near Slumgullion Pass, south of Lake City (where ash fell on us), along Brush Creek, seemingly quite popular with fisherfolk for brook trout; also where we first found rain in 15 days (past years it has rained more days than not during our trips).

In sum, we had less driving, more hiking, lots of discoveries, cool nights, whole areas and trails to ourselves. It was a great trip (with over 250 photos and 90 pages of journal entries, if you want more documentation).

MJH in clouds, in treesHere is Mer's favorite picture of me from the trip. I have my head in the clouds on the road down from Clear Lake. Mouseover for my favorite, in the palm of a remarkable tree on the edge of Grand Mesa.

MR at Clear Lake & smelling (like a) rose.

And here is my favorite picture of Mer, from that same hike, up at Clear Lake. Mouseover & think of Shakespeare.

Lucky digs water

Oh, but let's not forget Lucky Dog, digging for who knows what and wading in Brush Creek.

By Hand. By MJH. Click for more.

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