Jan 23, 2013 at 4:08 am #1298334
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
I have only been backpacking for a couple of years. I do a lot of trips in AR fall to spring. For the past two summers I've gone with a group of friends to either the Pecos Wilderness or south San Juans. We plan on the Pecos again in June.
They are tentatively planning an additional trip to do the Elk Park/Chicago basin loop, taking the Durango-Silverton train. My questions revolve around a couple of issues. One, the trip is planned for late July, prime monsoon season, and two, it's higher elevation than I've done by nearly 2K feet. I'm on the fence about going mostly because both these issues are unknown to me,(have no experience with either) and maybe I'm just fearing the unknown. I know there will be afternoon storms, and we'll need to be off the ridges by noon or so. I haven't had issues with altitude on the past two trips,opting to stay well hydrated before and during the trip. However those trips haven't been much higher than 11,5K and this will be nearly 14. I guess I'm wondering if my concerns are valid enough not to go, maybe opting for trying to find a trip elsewhere where monsoons aren't an issue.
Thanks in advance!Jan 23, 2013 at 5:05 am #1946386
Ben CBPL Member
I did that area 2 years ago in July. I am a flatlander and don't get much high elevation. I would give you a strong "yes " The area is beautiful. The storms aren't that bad, at least not for us. Some thunderstorms and a little hail rolled in but there was a lot of clear skies too. Climb one of the 14ers if you get the chance. Eolus and Sunlight are a little rugged, but Windom is pretty easy. I say go.Jan 23, 2013 at 5:39 am #1946392
Ben WortmanBPL Member
I say go also. You will be happy you did! Don't worry about storms. Bring good raingear and you'll be fine.Jan 23, 2013 at 6:07 am #1946398
deletedJan 23, 2013 at 6:49 am #1946404
Ben CBPL Member
Eolus can have a lot of snow in June and can be tricky if there is. I went on a heavy snow year in late July and Eolus still had a lot of snow. In fact, they had to helicopter a couple people off of Eolus while we were there because they slid down a snow slope and broke bones. We knew the conditions when we left so we fortunately had ice axes.
Its a great trip whether you top any peaks or not. If you are looking to top some peaks, look at some recent reports re conditions. I wouldn't let the weather stop me from walking that area, regardless.Jan 23, 2013 at 8:00 am #1946423
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
I'm more familiar with Elk Park and north into the Highland Mary Lakes region, but at least at Elk Park, Beartown, etc.. you can get off the ridges and into the valleys, forests, etc.. by lunch. Just takes a bit of planning. For altitude adjustment, I'll usually overnight at Molas Pass TH (along with what seems to be about 15 other cars usually), then go into Silverton for pancakes before hitting the Highland Mary TH. If you are thinking about the rail and leaving a vehicle there, then a room in Durango is likely your best option the night before (it's a resort town, so a little pricey but just a little). Not sure of many public campsites from the south – Cuba NM and Jemez Springs areas are too far unless talking about a 3 AM wake up.
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