San Juans: Northside

9/17 – 9/20 – It was thrilling to finally be in the San Juans – almost 200 miles of stunning scenery.  As we set off for 13,000+ that morning the mountains on the next ridge blushed a deep salmon and the sunlight sparkled on the water of  alpine lakes. Much of the time we were in the Wemenuche Wilderness, Colorado’s largest, which really did feel wild. Much of the other wilderness areas in Colorado seemed small, since you were still coming across roads, hydro plants and other signs of civilization a few times a day.  Here in the San Juans, though, we went days without seeing anyone and the vistas were just like looking into a shark’s mouth – row upon row of jagged peaks fading into the blue.

Highlights include:

  • Views of the Grendier and Needle mountains
  • Skinny dipping in an alpine lake
  • The Window and Rio Grande Pyramid
  • Walking the knife’s edge

The Window and Rio Grande Pyramid

We were very fortunate because we had excellent weather for all 6 days we were out.  We did have 1 insane but brief afternoon thunderstorm but thankfully we were able to take shelter in some trees… much of the trail is on exposed ridges where you would NOT want to be caught in a storm. We did wake up one morning to find the mountains beheaded by low ominous clouds but as the morning progressed the clouds lifted. I can’t imagine how the NoBos struggled through deep snow in the San Juans in June, it was tough terrain even without snow. We were regularly doing 7,000+ feet total elevation gain in a single day.  But I have to admit I was disappointed to have NO snow at all. Snow adds so much to the scenery. In autumn everything seem as if it was in “sepia” mode, or as if you were looking at a photo from the 70s. Everything had a mustard yellow tint to it, separated by a blue banner above and splashes of bottomless blue lakes below.  But I’m not complaining!  Just making excuses to return and see the San Juans in other hues!

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