Adventure 2004 - Southwestern Colorado

                                                       A Group Daily Log


Day 1: Saturday July 31, 2004

The Troop Gathered at our point of departure, Manchester Airport in Manchester, NH for an early morning flight. We traveled safely to Denver via Chicago arriving at Denver International Airport early in the afternoon. Thanks, in no small part, to our aircrew (see picture below). We then boarded a motor coach for the trip to Navajo State Park in Arboles, Colorado. A stop was made in the Pueblo area for last minute supplies and for a box lunch dinner. We arrived at Navajo State park late in the evening, set up our tents and hit the sack. Our tent sites overlooking Navaho Lake were perfect.  The campground catered to RV’s but we had an isolated section which suited us just fine.  Showers, laundry and a general store were nearby for amenities.  The town of Durango was about a 45 minute drive away. 

Departure From Manchester Airport

Our Aircrew

Navajo Lake

Tentsite At Navajo Lake

Day 2: Sunday, August 1,

Start: Vallecito Creek Trail Head (529)

Elevation at Start: 7500 feet

Distance traveled: 5.5 miles

We spent the morning reorganizing our backpacks and had an early lunch before departing the campground.  We arrived at the trailhead in the early afternoon.  The weather was sunny, dry and in the seventies.  The hike started at the Vallecito Campground amid a ponderosa pine forest.  The trail started easy before climbing a ridge.  The trail followed the creek with several ups and downs with some open slope views of Vallecito Creek.  We made camp near Second Creek after about 5-6 miles of steady hiking.  A couple of us broke out the fishing gear and proceed to catch trout with spinners.  After dinner we reviewed the trail maps for the next day. 

A Group Drop Off

A Group Picture

Along The Trail

Tony Filling His Water Barrel

Waiting For The Group To Catch Up

Water Break

Kyle On The Bridge

Mike On The Bridge


Day 3: Monday August 2, 2004

Primitive Campsite near Second Creek to primitive campsite along Johnson Creek Trail

Elevation at Start: 9,000 feet

Distance Traveled: 7.5 miles

Our second day on the trail was a moderate day for us with plenty of time for sightseeing.  We hiked through a lot of meadows and aspen groves with some small stream crossings.  Eventually we crossed a bridge over Vallecito Creek and continued along the Johnson Creek Trail.  The weather started to cool down and we had a light drizzle with temperatures in the fifties.  We made camp near the Vallecito Basin Area.

Bear Bags

Be Prepared



Alongside Johnson Creek

Vallecito Creek

Vallecito Creek Bridge



Day 4: Tuesday August 3, 2004

Johnson Creek Trail over Columbine Pass (13,000 feet) and into Chicago Basin

Elevation at Start: 10,500

Distance Traveled: 7.5 miles

The skies cleared today and we were off on a challenging uphill grind to Columbine Pass.  We were treated to outstanding vistas along the way to Columbine Lake.  The wildflowers were in abundant supply and in a blaze of colors.  While resting at the lake, scouts detected a strange odor and found the carcass of a horse that probably had fallen off the ridge above the lake. We also explored an abandoned mine near the lake.  Once we reached the pass, we stayed for about an hour and a half.  The view and weather could not have been better!  We were entertained by a pica and incredible views all around us.  We descended from Columbine Pass and made our way toward our campsite near Chicago Basin.  Along the way, we stopped for our traditional summer snowball fight in a snowfield. We found an excellent campsite above the Chicago Basin Area.  We did attempt to hike lower into the basin but opted to stay put after talking to two hikers that we were better off at our campsite.  Our campsite was about a mile and 700 feet further than where we wanted to be to start our day hike up Windom Peak, but given the outstanding location, water supply and views we were content.  We did make friends with the mountain goats, one in particular we named Sherman.  He seemed to follow you like a puppy and was always nearby—especially when you had to go to the bathroom.  They goats are attracted to the salt in hiker’s urine and would follow us for that reason.  Nate found this out while relieving himself in the middle of the night, when Sherman brushed up beside him!


Along The Trail

Alex And Rob

Campsite Above Chicago Basin


Sherman The Goat

Nate At Columbine Pass

Columbine Lake

Old Mine

Our Scoutmaster Greg

Switchback To Columbine Pass

Snow Field

Vallecito Basin Area

Vallecito Basin

Day 5: Wednesday August 4, 2004

Elevation at Start: 11,000 feet

Day Hike at Windom Peak, Elevation: 14,082

Distance Traveled: 10 miles

We descended seven hundred feet to the trailhead for Windom Peak.  We encountered a lot of hikers and noticed a lot of campsites in the Needles Creek Area.  We complimented ourselves on how nice and remote our campsite is from the congestion down below—and how the hike backup to the campsite would be tiring after a 14000 footer but well worth it.  At the trail head for Windom Peak we started the ascent to Twin Lakes.  This was a robust climb in itself and prepared us mentally for the remainder of the climb.  From the lakes, the trail ascended to a plateau and then began the grueling assault to the summit.  It was a picture perfect day.  It was a non-technical climb yet there was plenty of loose scree and rocks to scramble over.  The majority of our scouts and leaders made it to the top.  

Alex Nearing The Top

Ascent of Windom Peak

Break At Twin Lakes

View from Twin Lakes

Gordy Near The Top

View From The Top

View From Windom Peak

Day 6: Thursday August 5, 2004


Needleton Creek Area of Chicago Basin to primitive campsite along the Animas River.

Elevation at Start: 11,000 feet


We hiked through the Chicago Basin and then followed the Animas River. Hiking along the Animas River we spotted the Durango – Silverton Train a few times.  We found a secluded campsite away from one of the train junctions.  A lot of day trippers would get off the train here and meander around.  It was a bit melancholy to realize we were getting back to civilization.  We caught some downpours at our campsite.  We did manage to use a pavilion about a ½ mile from the campsite to chill out at.  Some of us used the pavilion to cook dinner.  There was a local scout troop there that set up their tents underneath the pavilion to keep dry for the night!  We were fine in the outdoor elements without any whining or hardship complaints on account of the weather.

Day 7: Friday August 6, 2004

Purgatory Trail Head

Distance Traveled: 

The last day on the trail included a good uphill start in the morning before leveling out.  Our final mile was an uphill hike with a 700 foot elevation gain to the Purgatory Trail Head.   We arrived at the trail head ahead of our scheduled pick-up time and did the tourist deal by visiting the shops at the base of the Purgatory Ski Area.


Day 8: Saturday August 7, 2004

Saturday morning came awfully early and the vans had to be returned and the bus came. We were headed home. A nice hotel room in Denver and a swim and back home we went.
Where did the week go? We had a lot of laughs and a lot of memories. Saw a lot of incredibly beautiful scenery and some pretty bad storms. Ate a buffalo burger in Silverton which was not like any beef I have ever had. Do it again???  In a heartbeat! Bring on the next High Adventure!

Bus Ride To Denver

The Long Ride

Dinner Break

Happy Birthday Jim

Fun In The Pool


Day 9: Sunday August 8, 2004

Our last day was a travel day. A late morning flight from Denver to Chicago, finally arriving back at Manchester in the evening.