Durango Fall Blaze
In the fall we often head to Durango to view the autumn leaves and participate in the Durango Fall Blaze. The Fall Blaze is a fundraising bike tour for Fort Lewis College, one of the top cycling teams in collegiate sports. The trip also places us in one of the finest fall leaf viewing regions of the state – the southwest corner. This year, another fine road trip commenced on a warm and bright Thursday morning. This will be a leafy post; I’ll leave Fort Lewis cycling for another blog.
Our goal was to camp in the headwaters of the Cimarron River. However, leaves appeared to be a week out yet. We decided to make Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, our stopping point for the night. Our decision placed us in the San Juan Mountains, and Red Mountain Pass, at low sun angle. I’m not a slow shutter shooter, but I gave it my best. Crystal Lake, about half-way up the north side of Red Mountain Pass, was our first stop.
From Crystal Lake, Red Mountain #1 (12,592 ft), Red Mountain #2 (12,219 ft) and Red Mountain #3 (12,890 ft) collect the last of the day’s sun. Yes, those are their official USGS map names; I know, their names took a lot of thought. Yet, aside from indigenous names, I kind of like numerical listings.
The San Juan Mountains decided to call it a day, and we continued into the dark. We arrived in the vicinity of Mesa Verde National Park around 10 that evening. Friday's sun-filled morning found us riding our bikes up the steep climb into the Park, prior to continuing on to Durango for our scheduled ride. The following Saturday morning, the bike tour went well, and we ventured back into the San Juan Mountains for more leaves.
Let it leaf, let it leaf, let it leaf… Our quest for gold took us up Mineral Creek outside of Silverton, Colorado, where we made a gold strike.
Some of my favorite peaks are towering above us in Ice Lake Basin. Out of view from below, the high peaks shy behind shelves of rock and false summits.
No matter the time of year, Mineral Creek never disappoints.
We found a campsite above Molas Pass and enjoyed the Grenadier Range, a sub-range of the San Juan Mountains. I never tire of the above view.
The rain found the Grenadiers, too.
After a good electrical show, enhanced with lots of rain and hail, we awoke to a misty, drizzly morning.
A little patchwork here…
A lot of solid there…
North Twilight Peak (13,075 ft) hadn't awakened yet, shrouded in morning clouds.
With a lot of rain, came a lot of sediment. Streams were an elixir of anything they could transport.
More leaf photos to come.