In mid-August Claudia and I backpacked for eight days into the Needle Mountains in the Weminuche Wilderness of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. This was I think the sixth or seventh time I've done a week-long trek in this particular range, but I was still able to find some new routes to take and new places to camp and photograph along with some old favorites. These mountains never fail to challenge and inspire!
8 Days in the Weminuche
Normally we take the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to access this mountain range, but this summer they aren't offering the wilderness dropoff service - I'm not sure exactly why, but suspect is has to do with the possibility of fire bans and/or mudslides which have both happened this summer, and the worry/liability that hikers might get stranded if the train can't pick them back up.
In any case, without the train dropoff it added 10 miles of hiking each way from the nearest trailhead, adding basically two extra days to the trip as well. An already tough trek got a bit tougher!
It's always fun to meet the friendly local mountain goats up there; if they are anywhere nearby they usually come around to check us out. By the end of this trip I kind of felt like a mountain goat myself, after all the scrambling over high rocky passes.
But we also explored some fun new cross-country goat trails and passes to visit some new [to me] lakes and basins, such as the one above and the one below.
During the first four days we had some smoke haze from distant wildfires (it's been a horrific wildfire summer in the West this year). The haze made for some unique light and photography conditions, but I was happy when it totally cleared out for the latter half of our trek.
I've done a lot of backpacking in the San Juans over the years, but this is one area I will never get tired of returning to time and time again.