Day 21: Uphill to Silverton

Sunday July 11, 18.8mi/30.3km

Elk Creek Pond (403.6/9995ft) to Engineer Trail Jct (422.4/12126ft) (CO)

I said goodbye to KOKO (I will try to catch up to her in a couple days), and I was out of camp at 7am, and stopped by the pond to get water. Cool sunrise!

I hiked downhill for an hour along Elk Creek, watching the sunshine light up the hillsides.

Elk Creek joins the Animas River, and the trail takes a right turn at this junction. Apparently there is a train stop in the middle of the forest?!

The CT crosses the Durango & Silverton railway, a historical train line that still runs today as a tourist attraction.

I actually got to walk along the tracks for a quick 100m. It’s neat that it is a narrow gauge railway.

The trail crossed the large Animas River on a huge bridge.

Looking upstream, towards Silverton, which is about 7 miles upriver.

And then the climb began, and lasted for the rest of the day. I left the river, and climbed up 1800ft on dozens of switchbacks to highway 550. Occasionally there were viewpoints on the switchbacks.

Once I was out of the gorge, it was a gradual uphill through meadows to the road.

I got to Molas Pass on highway 550, and quickly got a hitch from a nice Texas couple in a Tacoma. I got to ride in the back, and I got a neat picture of Silverton as we descended from the pass.

It’s a historic town, known for mining and brothels.

I was hungry and went straight to a restaurant for breakfast. The Bent Elbow was an excellent choice.

I devoured a breakfast burrito, and because it was Sunday, I decided to make it feel brunch-y with a Mimosa.

I walked the main street, full of little shops and restaurants.

There were little parks that showcased pieces of the town’s history.

And some houses that did the same thing.

“Home of Russian Princess 1883”

I did my food shopping, and then walked over to The Avon, a hotel & hostel in town.

It’s a beautiful old wooden building with tons of old-timey things.

I signed the guestbook, which took forever because it was a quill pen and ink.

After I took my shower, I left and went back to the main street to get more food. A funnel cake factory? How can I not go!

They also had Cherry limeade, and ice cream, so I got one of each of those too. A nice older couple sitting at the table next to me noticed my backpack, and offered me a ride back up to Molas Pass. Awesome! I was back on trail at 3pm. Back to the scenery!

And back to the gradual uphill climbing. The thousands of corn lilies were a nice touch.

The trail gradually climbed to 12,000ft, and the wildflower meadows seem to love that elevation.

There was a flock of sheep down by those lakes!

More wildflowers!

I walked for hours thru fields of wildflowers, so cool.

I don’t know why it’s called Engineer Mountain, but I like it.

I setup camp near that junction sign, and there was a small pond nearby too.

It was a little windy camping up so high with no trees, but my tent was tucked in next to some bushes, so it will be a quiet night’s sleep.

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