The Plan: Alpenglow sunrises. Sunny days. Smooth hikes. Backcountry campsites. Fiery sunsets. Warm fires. Star-filled skies, Restful nights. Amazing photographs.
The Reality: Cold, wet mornings. Cloudy skies, Thunderstorms. High winds, rain and hail. Freezing temperatures. Sleepless nights. Exhausting, strenuous hikes. Nothing as planned.
Moral of the Story: The mountains don’t care about your plans.
Its important to challenge yourself and accomplish goals, its priceless to evaluate situations and know when to change course. Our first, highly anticipated trip to the San Juans proved to be one of our most challenging excursions yet. A planned two to three night backcountry, photography focused trip into the Mount Sneffels Wilderness quickly turned into one of change and compromise.
Arriving early Friday afternoon, we grabbed an awesome campsite with views of Mount Sneffels summit at the Dallas Creek trailhead in the gorgeous San Juan mountains outside Ridgeway and set up camp.
After an evening of unsuspecting storms, a sleepless night, freezing temperatures and very wet morning, I thought maybe we are biting off more than we can chew. Instead of tearing down camp and loading up our packs to head into the wilderness boundaries, I thought it may be wiser to make the most of our killer campsite at the trailhead and day hike instead. Gina agreed. Arriving early in anticipation of heavy holiday weekend crowds definitely paid off.
New Plan: Day hike to see the Blue Lakes and Blaine Basin, both at the base of Mount Sneffels.
Our first choice was Blue Lakes, only 3.3 miles in. Holy hell am I’m glad we were not backpacking it in. We simply may not have made it. One of our most challenging hikes yet, while encountering all four seasons of rapidly changing weather conditions over the course of three hours.
Once at Lower Blue Lake we did have some reprieve in storms, a chance for photography and good conversation with a friendly fella from the Springs. Otherwise it was keep an eye on the sky and descend before dark. Exhausted and sore, we spent the night holed up in the tent trying to keep warm and dry. Sneffels definitely got the best of us. Blaine Basin will have to wait for another day.
All was not lost though! Sunday morning we started a whirlwind tour of some of the best Colorado has to offer. The indescribably gorgeous Yankee Boy Basin outside Ouray, Silverton, Durango, Pagosa Springs and Salida. Million-Dollar drives, rich railroad history, great Mexican food, long-awaited brewery visits and SD cards full of exposures. It was def another Labor Day weekend for the books and an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.