| 4 Days, 3 Nights in the Chicago Basin
Last week, along with 4 other friends, I climbed Sunlight, Windom, and Eolus over four days. We rode the Durango/Silverton train to the Needleton drop of point and hiked in roughly 6 miles into the Chicago Basin area. That was day one, Thursday June 7. Day two we hiked both Sunlight and Windom; day three was Eolus. Day four was sleep in, pack up camp and head back down to the train day. Spacing the trip into 4 days made things a lot more relaxed, enjoyable, and left us room for error (say weather moved in and we couldn't hike Windom on day two, we could do it on our free morning of day 4).
General pointers for camping in Chicago Basin:
Bring the Deet - mosquitoes weren't horrible, but they were there.
Animals are Friendly - we had a mountain goat enter our campsite every night, along with a few deer. Stow your food, clean up, and this may sound weird if you've never heard it before, but urinate at least 200 feet from camp. Goats follow humans to drink their urine for the salt - hard to believe, but it happened often.
Snow is NOT in Chicago Basin - it's scattered, but you'll have no problem finding a campsite
There are lots of campsites across the river
Camp as close to the Twin Lakes/Columbine Pass turn off as possible, but don't go up the Twin Lakes trail. Very quickly after the split, there are plenty of NO CAMPING signs, so don't waste the energy.
As for the actual 14ers themselves:
Snow had us diverting from the trail often. If you visit these peaks in the next few weeks, be ready to hit a little snow. It was decently packed for us, so we weren't post-holing like I thought we might. The snow slowed us down significantly. We didn't need snow gear, but make sure to have pants and plenty of sock for the inevitable post-hole.
All three peaks were pretty straight forward and there weren't any real surprises from the route guides found on 14ers.com, but I'll add these notes:
Keep an eye out for goats - there was a male goat protecting his family on Sunlight. He approached us with intent and we quickly backed down the mountain. He pursued us for a while and we continued to back down. If we did not, I'm confident he would have charged us.
Exposure on Eolus looks worse than it is, but still don't underestimate it. We had a guy who is not a big fan of exposure. He sat out Eolus and I'm glad he did. If you don't have too much a problem with exposure, you'll be fine....just be smart and take your time.
The cairns on Eolus's "homestretch" lead in multiple directions. We followed the cairns for a while, then just gave up and made our own way. This is the Class 3 scramble after the Catwalk.
That's pretty much it. We had amazing weather, and had a great time. Key points: be ready for a little snow, to interact with goats, and don't follow the last of the Eolus cairns. Happy Hiking!!