| Alone in the Weminuche
From the name of a Ute band, but the actual meaning of the word is unknown. Name given to a creek and a Wilderness Area within the Rio Grande and San Juan national forests.
I find it fitting that the actual meaning is unknown. This was my first trip to the east side of the Weminuche and I felt like I was stepping into the unknown. I've never felt such an overwhelming sense of solitude in my life. It's was incredible. I just wish it wasn't so far away. Hmmm. I guess you can't get one without the other.
I set off on Friday morning from the Springs with the expectation of having to hike the last 5-6 miles of the Rio Grande Reservoir Road to reach the Thirty Mile Campground before even starting the real work. My plan was to hike to camp on Friday, climb on Saturday, and pack out on Sunday. The reason I thought this was because when I called the well-informed people at the Forest Service office in Creede, they told me the gate was still closed and it usually didn’t open until the end of May. I’d like to thank the USFS Office in Creede for not knowing what they’re talking about. It was a great surprise when I found the road completely dry and open all the way to the trailhead...and it wasn't even my birfday.
I did see a few car tracks…maybe from the Dam caretaker. From that point on, the only sign of human existence was the faint ski tracks from the 2 guys that were here back in March. The last people to sign the trail register were Bob and Betty Barnes from Westminster, Oct. 29-31. With the bullsh*t from work piling up and closing in, this was exactly the kind of trip I was craving.
I hate to bring up anything negative about my experience, but it wouldn't be right to not warn you about the trail along the side of the resevoir. Because of the snow, the sidehilling effort on this part of the trail was annoying and frustrating on the way the way in. That was at 10am when the snow was nice and firm. On the way out, when the snow was crap, it was extremely painful. I don't think I've ever cursed that much in such a short period. Good thing there was no one there to hear me. I was thinking it was like playing the best 17 holes of your life only to blow up on the last. It was hard to get that 18th hole out of my mind.
My advice...deal with it. The only other option that I could see would be to climb down to the resevoir and walk along the shore until you get to the outlet of Weminuche Creek. The problem is that the hill back up to the trail from the resevoir at this point would be steep with deep snow. Take your pick.
Sign at the start of the Rio Grande Reservoir Road...the gate is at the end of the Road Canyon Reservoir
Start of the Weminuche trail
Let the fun begin
This bridge crosses over to the west side of the creek
I used my unexpected extra time to constuct a comfortable campsite and break some trail for the next day
First light over the La Garitas (isn't that like saying "the the" or "la la"?)
As I crested this hill, I was greeted to my first view of Window Peak, the Window, Rio Grande Pyramid, and Point 12,724
Some fun scrambling over to Pt. 13,278 (seen in the far right)
View of my route up the northeast face of the Pyramid from Pt. 13,278
Looking back down the face
Final steps up the east ridge
I took some time to admire the view...
and do a handstand
Looking down the Rio Nieve couloir...damn, should have come up that way
My glissade route down the southeast face
Making my way over to the Window and Window Peak
In the Window...turned out to be even cooler than I thought it would be...and so much larger than I expected...this is the south wall and it has to be at least 100 feet tall
This shows the route I chose to get from the Window to Window Peak...I decided to call it the Window Crack
It was about 100 feet of mixed snow, ice and rock...this picture was taken looking back down from about half way up
And the upper section
Looking back at Rio Grande and the Window from Window Peak
I followed the Rincon La Vaca back to Weminuche Pass...it made for a nice loop, but I lost elevation fast and was then stuck with a long, flat, sometimes uphill, hike back to camp
The 18th hole
Elevation...7000' (including recon hike and all the ups & downs)
5:15am...Left Colorado Springs
9:38am...Start of Rio Grande Resevoir Road
10:06am...Thirty Mile Trailhead
10:40am...Start of the Weminuche Trail
12:45pm...Arrive at camp
4:00pm...Start recon hike
6:00pm...Back at camp
5:15am...Onward and upward
10:00am...Rio Grande Pyramid
2:35pm...Back at camp
5:30pm...Back at car
10:15pm...Back in Colorado Springs
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):