Author: Jan Studebaker
Photo Gallery: Jan
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Trip Participants: Bill Priedhorsky, Karen Grace, Dennis Brandt, Petey Priedhorsky, Mark
and Lynn Jones, Jackie Little, and Jan Studebaker
Eight of us wanted to do a
backpack in spite of the ominous weather forecasts for our target areas;
rain was the order of the day. I personally wanted to visit Blue Lake
near Platoro, Colorado, since I had never hiked in the area, and had
heard great things about the South San Juan Wilderness area. It was a
short drive, and it looked like less rain would befall us in that
region. We met at Bill's house at noon, and talked over our options; a
vote decided it. We were shortly off to the Blue Lake.
June 6: Our route took us to
Antonito, Colorado, where we drove west on SR-17 for about 23 miles. We
then turned (right) onto FDR-250, which is a very nice dirt road, and
continued west for another 23 miles. This put us in Platoro. We then
drove around the Platoro Reservoir and on to the Three Forks Trailhead
where we parked our vehicles in the large parking lot and started on our
Our final destination was of
course the lake, but because of our late start we decided to camp at the
halfway point, and continue on to the lake for the next two nights stay.
We hiked about 3 miles up the gorgeous El Rito Azul valley. Our first
camp was just past a sign pointing towards the next day's trail, which
would begin with a crossing of the Conejos River. So far we had avoided
Dennis wading across the Conejos River
June 7: The next morning we waded
across the Conejos River, which was extremely cold by everyone's howling
proclamation, and started the steep accent to the Blue Lake. The total
altitude gain was around 1400', and I would say the hike was more
difficult than I had expected. Everyone seemed happy to get to camp.
Petey was feeling his oats that morning, and offered to help others with
their load, for a fee; Karen took him up on the offer on the way up, as
well as the way down. We set up our tents, and most, including myself,
took a nap during the rain that followed.
After a several hour rain
several of us hiked in a wonderland of natural beauty, Bill successfully
fished for our next breakfast, and others played around camp. We got
more rain for dinner, but Bill and others had strung up a large tarp
between trees to give us an eating shelter that worked very well indeed
for the rest of the trip.
June 8: After a wonderful breakfast
the next morning, complete with fresh fish, we set out upon a great hike
along the continental divide trail. Our destinations for the day were
two of the
highest points in the area. Although it rained intermittently all day, lightning
activity was very low, and views came and went as we plodded along.
Dinner was again held under the tarp.
Our view from one of the highest points in the
June 9: Our final morning started
under the tarp with fish for breakfast; Bill had been successful again
yesterday evening! We broke camp and headed back to our cars in the rain.
We drove home via Chama, NM and had lupper at a new restaurant that Bill
calls the library, because they have a nice selection of interesting
books for sale. Several of us paged through books as we ate.
Final thoughts: No one seemed to think the
rain was a big problem to our enjoyment, but Petey was unprepared and
suffered a bit from his cold wet clothing. He learned some
valuable lessons, as we all have in the past. The Blue Lake was one of the
most beautiful lakes that I have ever visited! This hike was truly
wonderful, and I would highly recommend it.......even in the rainy
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