Trip preparations are reaching a climax this week as the countdown to Colorado begins in earnest. In less than 48 hours, I will be on the road to Durango and I am keeping my fingers crossed for prolific wildflowers and spectacular weather. Speaking of weather, now is the time when I begin to obsess over forecasts. So far, I’ve confirmed that afternoon thunderstorms occur reguarly and a couple of sites are actually predicting days of rain. Yikes! As it is, this news caused me to rethink my itinerary and I have some tentative backup plans in mind – just in case.
Before I discuss those, I’d like to share with you my mostly flexible plans for this trip. Day one brings me to Durango where I’ll be exploring the La Plata mountains in the far corner of the state with a short hike to a high alpine lake. For the next couple of days, I’ll be near Creede to meet a friend where we’ll explore the Wheeler Geologic Area. For those of you not familiar with this place, it was originally designated as Colorado’s first national monument, but later lost its status due to the remoteness of the area. From the looks of it, you might think Utah or even Arizona.
Departing from Creede, my primary destination will be areas around Silverton most notably the Weminuche Wilderness area (see previous blog). Depending on my mental and physical state, I researched several areas that I could potentially explore. These include: Ruby Lakes, Highland Mary Lakes, Hope Creek, and the West Fork Trail. These trails are scattered throughout the wilderness so a lot will also depend on logistics and of course, the weather.
Another primary area of interest in Ice Lake Basin in the San Juan National Forest. This is a popular area known for its spectacular scenery, gorgeous wildflowers, and large crowds. A couple of factors play into my visit. The primary variable is going to be….drum roll please…the weather and how comfortable I feel backpacking during potentially deadly summer monsoon storms. My goal is to spend two nights in the upper basin, which would give me enough time to scout out the most optimal sunrise compositions, which of course, I’ll be sharing with you.
After that, it’s a couple more days in the Weminuche Wilderness exploring more lakes, peaks, and wildflower fields. That’s my trip in a nutshell and do I have some backup plans if rainy and gloomy days impede on my time in the mountains. My first trip alternative is the Great Sand Dunes National Park. I have never been to this place and I love photographing and exploring sand dunes, so this is certainly a possibility. The weather forecast looks promising there and the high temperatures should be pleasant. The downside it is a few hours out of my way so requires plenty of extra driving.
My other options closer to home include: Coyote Buttes, Bisti Wilderness, and exploring the ruins around the four corners area. The biggest drawback to these possibilities is the heat. I’d prefer not to hike in temperatures in the low to mid 90′s so these are excursions for a different time of the year. That being said, I plan on making the most of my time so I will do what I have to do to get the best images possible.
In conclusion, I am looking forward to sharing with you some of the images and experiences from this trip in the upcoming few weeks. If you have any tips, suggestions or advice I’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed this update on my travels.