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.
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!
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.