Archive for san juan

Home on Vacation – the rest

Posted in blog, colorado, houston, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by tymora42

Day 6 and 7 –

We took it easy. That much adventure left us exhausted for a while. We drank margaritas and mojitos in town after Tara took us to the souvenir shops her and mom scouted. Robert was looking for a cowboy hat to mark his Colorado debut. They also wanted to get steaks to treat my family to dinner as a way of thanks. They even left a card that made my mom tear up a little. Robert found his hat on the last day. He wanted to be sure it was the right one so he checked out the non-tourist places also.

We were supposed to go to the Piedra Hot Springs along the Sheep Creek Trail on Day 6, but a photo slideshow kept us a little too late for hiking. Again, we were late on Day 7 with dinner and all. I was hell bent on going, though, so we made the twilight trek. The wild animal fear gripped us once more on the path down the mountainside lit only by small flashlights and the moon. When we got there it was worth it. We almost turned around once or twice. Little did we know it was literally right around the next bend. There was a single car in the parking lot at the trail head and a single tent in a campground at the bottom. We knock knocked for permission to travel through, a courtesy campers use to let the sleepers know it is harmless humans lurking about their tents.

We also asked if they knew where the hot springs were. “Straight down the hill,” they answered. You follow the Sheep Creek Trail until you first hit water. Don’t go down to the bank just yet. Walk to the right and you will pass a single fire ring campsite. You are almost there. The trail looks overgrown here and you might not be sure it is the real trail or not. It is. The very next grove head down to the banks. You will see the pools. I am guessing they have black sand in them. It was dark. We could not be completely sure. Tara took some in a cigarette pack wrapper. I will have to ask her. The biggest clue you can have is the steam coming out of the water near the frigid river. Some are too hot like that Eddie Murphy/James Brown spoof on vintage Saturday Night Live. Find the one you like and lay down. They smell, but immerse yourself fully anyway. You will not regret it. I used a rock as a pillow to keep my head above. There is also a shovel left there to make them deeper or to blend the river with the spring.

We laid out soaking, reminiscing on the past week, and confirming our lifelong friendship. It was a nice end to the adventure. It was enough to make me remember why I moved here in the first place. I needed that shot of memory. I miss the people in Houston, but I do not miss not being able to walk out my backdoor for some wholesome outdoor activity. I can do the outdoor part in Houston, unfortunately it is never all that wholesome – skinny dipping in the fountains or climbing Miller Theatre after dark and running from the law. Yeah, I miss it a little.

Now that they are gone I am kind of bored. The past few weeks have been trying to solidify a place to live and a job. Neither seem ideal to me yet. The apartment is too expensive and too small. The job doe snot pay enough. This does not mean I cannot still look. The best part is I have a roommate I trust and some burgeoning friends to reacquaint ourselves.

Next Spring I will bring my canoe.

Home on Vacation 3

Posted in blog, colorado, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by tymora42

Day 3 – Engineer Pass

We researched the San Juan trails using Latitude 40 maps. They really are the best for this area. They include all trailheads in easy to spot yellow Ts, they are topographic with easily discernible elevations in feet, they are waterproof for the mid afternoon Colorado rainstorms, and they have all of the current trails listed with difficulty ratings. I love them. Thank you Latitude 40. We geared up and got out late as per norm. When we got to Pinkerton Springs, I let the couple go walk the dog while I divvied up the food between us. Each got a can good (I know, a terrible weight for the overnight and all day backpacking trip), each got a bag of trail snacks (cranberry granola, nuts and chocolates, and dried apples), Robert took the Pastrami and cheese, I took the tortillas, Tara took the drink mixes and excess sundries (dogfood, TP, extra ziplocs), and everyone got two emergency energy bars. The dog, Scottie, was the only one who got off Scottie-Free with the weight. He made up for it by running ahead and back to the group and in circles and all over the place. That dog was downright loopy. He must have climbed the mountain 3 times more than all of us together. And he still had energy.

We went straight up about 11,000 feet to Engineer Pass. We stood marveling at the height and magnanimity of it all. We ate Lunch/Dinner and kept going. At the mesa past Coal Creek Pass Trail going toward Jura Knob we settled in for the night. We still had almost an hour left of light, but we were not sure how long we would be on the ridge and Robert could not take another step. He was experiencing the first signs of Altitude Sickness. We did not know this yet. When the temperature dropped steadily at 11,600 feet after sunset, we all realized we should have brought the warmer sleeping bags. It probably would not have been so bad if the weather was not as rainy all day. Nobody got much sleep that night. Everytime the wind blew the grass ruffled against my tent fly, making me think some predatory wild animal was rummaging around outside. We hung the food 10 ft high on a 3ft branch extension 50 ft from camp and downwind to deter bears from entering our sleeping quarters. This still did not prevent me from seeing the need to gather thick long sticks and things to throw. That might have been more for the sake of coyotes that howled until dawn. The only worry that we had little on our person to prevent was the lightning and thunder. It looked as beautiful as dangerous from our vantage.

Before morning Robert puked, Tara cried, and I paced the meadow wondering what we were going to do tomorrow. Earlier in the day Robert talked about never turning back. I was of the same opinion, however, argued the point of it being necessary not to limit your options. Robert was hard headed and stated his case. It was valid, but immediate experience would persuade him otherwise.

Day 4 – Coal Creek and Silverton

We turned our train around and dropped down about a hundred feet. Robert sucked Propel packages dry for the electrolytes and pumped himself full of vitamin C tablets we thankfully had the foresight enough to bring. He was feeling much better. Coal Creek made a nice loop back to the trailhead, so we took it. It was a partial compromise. We turned back, but we still got to see new things.

This was the first time my pack was the exact right weight ever. Maybe my concern for the other two overshadowed my own discomfort. I don’t know. The second day I took a load off Robert on account of his sickness. It still did not feel to shabby. It must be the new tent weighing in at just over a pound and a half total. Surprisingly, Tara still had a full skin of water. I halved it with her when we got under the timberline.

Coal Creek loses a cut trail for a quarter mile. People put up rock markers to tell you where to go. Figuring that out was fun. Trying to figure out if they hike chainsaws up the hill for trail maintenance or whether they helicopter them to the top and hike down was fun also.

We hit the road after a short drizzle of rain. I hitchhiked back to the car from a guy with a back brace. Enviously, he listened to our adventure. When I told him Robert had Altitude Sickness he goes, “Oh really? Where is he from?” “Houston.” We both laughed. I guess coming from sea level to close to 12g in less than a week would do it. The rest of our planned route would have taken him higher. We were going to walk along the ridge of the Colorado trail and then down to Molas Lake.

I picked them up and suggested we go to Silverton. We were right next to it anyway. We got some BBQ, did a little shopping, Scottie bit a kid, and we left. He was a little grumpy. It was time for all of us to go home.

next – the river!