10 July 2007

Exploring the SE San Juan Range

We made our first foray into the Southeastern San Juan range last weekend. This area is much less traveled than the "normal" San Juans, i.e. Silverton, Lake City, Durango, Ouray, Telluride etc. It does not have the jaw dropping rugged mountain views but it does have jaw dropping pastoral mountain views and remoteness.

Starting at Antonito, we drove west thru the beautiful Conejos River Valley. Lot's of crags on the North side of the road. After Horca, we headed generally NE toward Platoro Reservoir. Along the Lake Fork of the Conejos, I had trouble staying on the road while driving. I wasn't even drinking. There was SO MUCH ROCK of different types. Even if only a fraction of it were of climbable quality, it could be a destination area. I didn't see many cracks which means it would have to be developed (bolted). Unfortunately climbers in this region are rare. More on this another time since I didn't have time to stop and hike up.

We made a nice camp at Lily Pond Lake (11,900') near Stunner Pass. While getting firewood, I let Julia find her way back to camp. While great practice, I'm very glad it was practice. :-)

We drove up to Kerr Lake the next day. We hiked around the lake while teasing the fish. No go there. We did attract two DOW officers though. There was another group close by. The officers split up and one came towards each group. I couldn't see a uniform until the last 50 feet when he opened his vest. I did NOT like this approach and was worried about our family's safety until this point. I was getting into defense postion until at last I saw his uniform. He was a nice guy, of course, after we talked. Bad way to approach though. I could see being a DOW officer ... getting out in the forest on a daily basis.

We headed towards the Stunner mining camp, past the Crater Lake trailhead and then to the infamous Summitville - where the environment mining disaster happened. The entire area is worth much more exploring. We'll be back. This was only the first foray.

I mapped the general route here.
All the pics are here.

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