Paul Perea,Dave West, Johnny AKA Peak Bagger
Total milage 19 miles
Camp Elevation 11,200 feet
Water Temperature Twin Lakes?(Cold)
Goats and Mushrooms seen hundreds
Getting a partner for this one was not easy with the travel time, logistics of the train, and the approach. Some of the guys I normally climb with had already done Chicago Basin and others could not make the dates work. Finally Dave West agreed to go and was real excited for the trip unfortunately he got sick after arriving at camp and had to make an early decent the next day back to Durango. I felt bad since he had taken the time off work paid for a train ticket, and made a valient effort to make it to camp with a heavy backpack(7.2 miles). I met Johnny soon after getting off the train and we stuck together the rest of the trip. It was nice because we both had a similar pace and he will also be finishing his 58th and final 14er next Saturday on Sneffles. Congrats Peak Bagger :
After a long drive to Durango we boarded the train. If I never have to board a train again I will not be disappointed. I was just ready to throw the pack on and get above the trees.
Dave was as excited as I was about being on the boring train.
After arriving at Needleton we were handed our packs and crossing the Animas River in no time. I looked back at the train as it left and saw the tourists staring at us. All I could think was we are going to have more fun than you have a nice ride to Silverton.
There were some really cool Mushrooms and tons of rasberrys on the trail. I ate several rasberrys but refrained from the red and yellow Shrooms.
Shroom Power for the 7.2 mile trek
The sun beat down on us and it felt like 100 degrees with humidity. It was tough staying hydrated.
It was hot!
About 5 miles in it appeared like the skys were going to unload on us but all we got were a few drops. When we got to camp our little urine fins were waiting for us. They were great entertainment the 2 days we were up there. Other than one going for my poles we had no problems with them.
The views from camp were amazing and a great place to just relax. We had dinner and went to bed in anticipation for a 4 a.m. start.
View from camp
Sure beats Aurora!
4 a.m. came fast and we hit the trail to Twin Lakes Via headlamp and moonlight. The route was cairned well so route finding was never an issue. Sunlight was the first 14er on the agenda. We arrived at the first window at sunrise and I stopped to look out and watched the sunrise.
We were on the summit shortly after and ready to do the final summit block move I was concerned about. Johnny went first. He didn't think about it and just did it which is what you have to do. If you think about it the exposure on each side will play tricks on your mind and will make the move harder. Johnny jumped back down off the 2nd block as I stood there to spot him if he overshot it. I however did not feel comfortable with the jump with my past knee injury and was able to just crabwalk down a little and step across with my back to the gap below and push off with my arms. On all the Youtube videos I had not seen anyone do it this way but I guess whatever works.
Peak Bagger ready to make the final Sunlight move
Downclimbing was easy and we made our way to peak# 2 for the day Windom. We stayed as high as possible to not lose too much elevation and soon met up with standard route for Windom. There is some nice scrambling to be had on the square blocks. We were on top by 8:30. We ate breakfast took our summit pictures and I made a call home to check in that everything was ok. I was suprised how good the reception was up there.
Decending Windom was a breeze. I was excited to see the lakes in daylight they did not disappoint.
Making our way down Windom
Once down to Twin Lakes I ate some lunch and Peakbagger filtered some more water. I was happy with our time so far and felt like chilling for a while but Peakbagger suggested we start on our next objective Eolus and North Eolus in case weather moved in. I agreed slammed a GU and we were off. By now the sun was hot and beating down on us but we still made good time to below the Catwalk.
Below the catwalk.
If you ask ten people what is the most difficult of the 4 peaks you will get ten different answers but for me it was Eolus. Maybe because the legs were already tired. On the way up we met with a lady who was coming down. She had just taken a 3 foot fall bounced and fell another few feet before catching herself. She was bleeding from the knee and thought she might of hurt her back. We offerred a first aid kit and she said she had one but might take us up on it after arriving at camp. A close call indeed and a reminder to never let your guard down on any mountain regardless of the difficulty. We contiued on to the Catwalk where the peak and catwalk looked impressive.
At the beginning of the Catwalk
Loking back at the Catwalk
I thought of the lady that fell while crossing the ledges and took extra caution. Soon I was standing on the summit of # 56
The downclimb back to the start of North Eolus was uneventful and the quick 10 minute scramble to the top of North Eolus took me about 20 minutes since I was pretty spent by now.
Down Climbing Eolus
After coming off of our last 14er for the day my legs sore all I could dream about was jumping in the cold lake. It was on my bucketlist to swim in an alpine lake at some point in my life. CHECK
Man VS Wild
Adios Chicago Basin
Next week will be # 58 The one and only Mt Evans driving down with a belly full of beer and champagne is going to be tough!
A couple side notes: 1. The lady was ok we saw her at camp and was being taken care of she was walkign aroound with no problem.
2. If you park in Durango you can save time catching the 11:30 train to Silverton and then taking the bus back to Durango.
3. The Cumbres and Toltec Railroad near Antonito/Chama is boring but but I think the Durango one has it beat.