13 August 2016

Stardate 2016.616

Silverjack and the West Fork of the Cimarron River


Recently, Snowcatcher and I visited one of our favorite places – the headwaters of the Cimarron River. We decided to do some mountain biking in the vicinity of the confluence of the East, Middle and West Forks. Each of these rugged basins provide northerly access into the Uncompahgre Wilderness area. Formerly the Big Blue Wilderness, a title I prefer, this arguably is one of the most scenic regions in the northern San Juan Mountains.

The lesser-visited East Fork of the Cimarron is still wild and woolly. Although the area has been "discovered," the Middle and West Forks still have their own wild mysticism. Each basin projects a unique personality; they project their own siren. Enter the 1990s with self-serve gas stations located in isolated corners of the state. A new era of touring was born. Thank you credit cards and 24-hour access. (We used to have to carry extra petrol when venturing into rural areas).

However, it's still easy to disappear from people and civilization, even though things have changed a bit since John Wayne visited in 1969. Are you a Wayne fan? The original True Grit with John Wayne and Kim Darby was filmed in this area.

Majestic ramparts abound.

If you haven't seen this area cloaked in fall color, you're in for a treat.

Looking up Middle Fork, one is awed by rugged Pinnacle Ridge separating the East and Middle Forks of the Cimarron River. I proposed to Snowcatcher in an Elysian basin far up the Middle Fork as the setting sun was turning surrounding rock and peaks crimson red.

Sheep Mountain rises high above the mouth of the East Fork basin to 13,168 feet.

The short and steep grunt up the Middle Fork to the Wilderness area parking is nothing short of a grind.

There are more blog posts to come, especially with fall only a little more than a month away for these mountains.


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