| Combo Breaker- the Wilson Group
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Woods Lake Approach
El Diente North Buttress from Navaho Basin
El Diente to Mt. Wilson high traverse
Wilson Peak Southwest Slopes from Navaho Lake
~22.75 miles and 9,500' of elevation gain
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Day 1 Woods Lake Approach
Day 2- El Diente and Mt. Wilson
Day 3- Wilson Peak
Here is a map showing the Woods Lake TH vs. the Navaho Lake TH. Truth be told, the Woods lake TH is about 45 minutes less driving in each direction, and at most 15 minutes extra hiking. It also offers some great views along the way.
Woods lake is a seldom-used approach to the Wilson Group. The user reported route is excellent and provides plenty of information to entice readers into trying this alternative. We didn't find much evidence that it is used much, but it should probably be considered for any trip you might be making in the area.
5 reasons to take the Woods Lake approach:
1) It's closer to Ridgway than any other approach
2) The road can be driven in any vehicle, including Harleys or Corvettes
3) You likely will see 0 other hikers on this approach
4) The views of El Diente from the pass are sublime
5) The pass is at least 1,200' lower than Rock of Ages saddle.
And then also there is this:
We'd been trying to make this trip for a long time. I had been sick for nearly a month, squeezing in Little Bear between courses of prescription antibiotics. I was hoping to tackled the Wilson group in peak physical condition, but that was going to be impossible. There are only so many days in summer, and our fall calendars were already filling up. So away we went, hoping for a nice weather window.
And here are 5 reasons to take the North Buttress Route on El Diente:
1) The rock is generally solid if you stick to the buttress
2) Minimal time spent on small rocks and dirt slides
3) The views of the valley below are grand
4) The route dumps you off very close to the summit
5) You don't have to travel on any part of the traverse to reach the summit
And there is also this:
(photo by SZL)
This wasn't an "easy" trip. Minor injury aside, my panic attack on the narrow fin revealed a weakness, a chink in my armor. My psyche was wounded, and I'm not sure how extensive the damage is. We were able to complete the goals, so perhaps it's a minor thing. Also, the rock is LOOSE! I would say that the Maroon Bells have nothing on the Wilson group. And the loose rock is surely trecherous. Trusting any rock less than 1,000 lbs is a risky affair. There were more than a few times that I was shocked at the instability of the rocks, tumbling and sliding at the lightest touch.
El Diente has a small and airy summit, Mt. Wilson has a serious summit pitch and loose shoulders, and Wilson Peak has a thrilling and exposed finish. All of these summits should be considered carefully, for it is not often that the mountains grant you a second chance.
The San Juans are still awesome, it's no wonder that it's an adventure every time we drive out there. Too bad we don't live closer!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):