Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Beaver Pond Haul

Five AM Friday morning my alarm sounded. I woke that early to have time to pack and pick up coffee at Roasters when they opened at 6. I went ahead and picked up donut stop on the way and went across the street to pick up our coffee. Graham was working so I said hi to him and made my way to pick up Cory 15 min ahead of schedule.  I helped Cory pack and we stopped at donut stop again to pick up some apple fritters and a cake donut (the first Donut Stop hadn't made any yet). After that, Cory took the wheel and we were on our way to the great state of Colorado. 

Out rather ambitious goal for this trip was to climb Wham Ridge on Vestal Peak. Though the climbing isn't too difficult, climbing Vestal is a serious undertaking since the peak is over 10 miles from any road. 

Unfortunately, most of the drive to Silverton, CO is in the not so great state of New Mexico. A few hours outside of Albuquerque near Aztec, we spotted a cop coming toward us, and a quick check of the speedometer revealed that we were speeding a bit (it was going down a hill and we weren't going that much faster than the speed of the traffic). Much to our dismay, we saw the cop turn around to pursue lights blazing. Cory got a ticket (only $75 fortunately) and we were once again on our way. 

We drove through Durango and headed up the road towards Silverton. We reached our trail head at Molas Pass and were on the Colorado Trail at about 3:15. We knew we had about 10 miles to go before dark so we started down the 2000ft of switchbacks to the Durango Train train tracks at the base of the valley. We ran into a couple groups of people, and even a couple of guys who had been hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver for the past month. 

We reached the train tracks and spent at least 15min picking handfuls of scrumptious wild raspberries. We heard a noise coming from further up the train track and we watched as about 20 train service cars passed by on their way to do something. We started hiking up Elk Creek still following the Colorado Trail. After about 20min we were able to look down on the train car workers who were busy repairing something on the track. 

We kept hiking and hiking up the moderately steep trail and enjoyed the beautiful scenery on either side of the creek. We continued up until we powered through a steep hill which lasted for almost half a mile. Up up and up we hiked until we came to a beautiful pond at about 6:45 with reflections of the beautiful peaks all around. We took this opportunity to eat a bite. We could see Vestal Peak off to our right and we feared that we had missed the side trail leading to it's Basin. We decided to keep pressing on and if we missed the trail then we'd just spend the night someplace and call it awesome. After a few minutes it became clear that the trail to Vestal Basin was somewhere behind us. So we decided to go to the trouble of getting our beta papers out of my pack to see where we should have gone. Apparently, the trail skirted around the edge of the small beaver pond. We found the trail, now realizing that it was far too late to proceed any farther that day.  We knew that this thwarted all our hopes of climbing Wham Ridge the next day. 

We pitched camp and enjoyed the absolutely magnificent sunset views as well as Vestal Peak which light up a beautiful shade of orange. We decided that we had already had a great trip and that trying to get home pretty early the next day sounded like a good option compared to hiking into Vestal Basin just to look around.  So we ate dinner and fell asleep watching Mission Impossible 3. 

We woke up to our alarm at 6 and began packing our gear. We probably started hiking down at about 6:30. We hiked quickly down over 1000 vertical feet to the train tracks at 8:30.  We picked up a few raspberries, but quickly began making our way up the 35 switchbacks to the meadows 2000ft above. We blasted through this section and reached the jeep at 10:30 all in all having hiked over 16miles with 3300ft of elevation gain and loss. 

We hopped in the car and started driving toward Durango. About 10min later we ran into a cop who told who was telling everyone to turn around. Confused, we continued around the corner until we could make use of the pullout. It was at this point that we saw why we needed to turn, a truck with a camper shell was on fire and we watched as the inferno blazed forth from the windshield and windows. 

We turned around and decided to go into Silverton to eat lunch. On the way, we were passed by the firetruck so we knew the pass wouldn't be blocked for long. We used Yelp to find a good restraunt. We ordered a pizza and I killed 6 flies. Five of which were sandwiched in between the plastic open sign and the window. We drank Durango rootbear and were quickly on our way. 

The truck fire had been extinguished and we were able to drive back to Durango, windows down letting Colorado in for as long as possible. After filling up we kept going and rolled up the windows in NM to avoid contaminating our precious CO air. Then we drove back. The end. 

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I love life and aspire to be all I can be in everything that I do.