Chicago Basin and the urine loving Mountain Goats + videos
Okay, first it's no joke - the herd of Mountain Goats will actually wander through camp waiting for you to urinate because they crave the salt so much. To discourage this distasteful practice (so to speak...) the Forest Service recommends you urinate on rocks. We did try burying urine but the goats will go to great lengths to dig it up...
Our group consisted of; 15 year old Eric, 23 year old Jamie, me (the 53 year old curmudgeon), and 30 year old Kevin who did most of the leading. The four of us had all met, at different times, through 14ers.com and climbed together in different combinations since the last season. We turned out to be a diverse group that got along really well and look forward to climbing again together if we could only match our days off!
Kevin, Jamie and I met up in Denver for the ride down to Colorado Springs to pick up Eric. We left south Denver at around 8:30 pm but it took well over two hours to reach the 'Springs for Eric - thanks to heavy Sunday evening road construction. After Eric got on board we drove through the night to Durango where we slept in the car (in a local park) until the train station opened.
The train ride, to Needleton, took about two-and-a-half hours, and was relatively comfortable even though we were in an open car (If possible, they try to keep "smelly" backpackers out of the regular passenger cars - so I'm told...). The train ride costs $79 round-trip plus another $10 if you bring along a backpack. The train is interesting, from an historical perspective, but grossly inefficient and polluting. During normal economic times they run four round-trip trains per day - each using about eight tons of coal, over 75% of which is burned going uphill. The accumulation of coal soot is especially pronounced on the way uphill as well - it collects in your hair, eyes, nostrils and camera lenses but doesn't seem to do a whole lot of damage (that I'm yet aware of...).
Climbing and Hiking:
The weather was superb throughout our entire stay - hardly a hint of moisture in the air which we understand is a bit unusual for the area. Nevertheless, we took full advantage of the clear skies and easily completed Windom and Sunlight on Tuesday morning, July 14th.
The four of us then completed Eolus and North Eolus on the next morning, Wednesday, July 15th. Kevin and I, immediately after Eolus, made our way up Jupiter Mountain - a "Centennial" that's easily visible from the camping areas in Chicago Basin.
All of us found the fourth class moves, and occasional 5th class pieces, to be a climbing delight. Although there was some loose rock, with some difficult route finding, we all did really well - feeling solid and confident on the rock without compromising fun or safety.
(There are a bunch of regular pix below this area. If all you see
is a lot of empty space your server is filtering-out YouTube
links. Scroll further down to see the regular pictures)
Homeless lady waiting for the train to Needleton...
Waiting for packs to load onto the Durango & Silverton Railroad
Durango & Silverton Railroad enroute Needleton and then Silverton
Unloading packs from the Durango & Silverton Railroad
Eric, Jamie, and Kevin on North Eolus
Jamie making her way up some 4th class on Eolus
Mount Eolus as seen from North Eolus
Eric making his way up Eolus
Jamie viewing the North Eolus from Eolus
Jamie and Kevin on Eolus
Roger J. Wendell, Eric, Kevin and Jamie coming down from Eolus
Eric on 3rd class terrain on Eolus
Eric and Kevin going up Eolus
Mountain Goat on Windom Peak
Jamie coming down from Sunlight Peak
Jamie makes her way to the top of Sunlight Peak
Eric, Kevin and Jamie on Sunlight Peak
Eric dancing on Sunlight Peak
Roger J. Wendell and Eric on Windom Peak
Jamie and Kevin making their way up Windom
Mountain Goats walking through our camp
Roger J. Wendell crossing the Animas River over the bridge at the Needleton train stop
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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