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Western CO / Eastern UT Fall Expedition (Part 2)

We are relaxing at Lower Piedra from Sunday 12 September to Wednesday 15 September, when we pack up bright and early and head out on 160 toward Durango.

We stop there at ‘Serious Texas Barbeque South‘ for lunch, before heading to WalMart to stock up on some groceries and “stuffs” :)… After WalMart, we head on West via 160 and 184 to Dolores, where we join the “Dolores to Norwood” trail.

This ‘trail’ is mostly gravel forest service roads, easy to drive even for passenger vehicles, so we make good time heading North toward Montrose. After Norwood, we briefly head East on 145, before joining “Dave Wood trail.”

We are looking around for a camp spot close to Montrose, but are unfortunately unsuccessful, so we decide to keep heading on from Montrose via 550 towards Silverton, hoping to find a dispersed site along the way. Unfortunately, all the spots we try are occupied, and it is getting late in the day. We decide to play it safe and just head to Silverton and check into the “Teller House Hotel,” which is the only place with any available rooms…

Since the room they have available only has a queen bed, they are nice enough to give us an inflatable mattress so these two dudes don’t have to sleep in the same bed – while we are having dinner at the “Golden Block Brewery,” hotel staff readies Glenn’s “bed” next to the existing queen…

After a good dinner and some cold ones, we settle in for the night and sleep pretty good, under the circumstances.

We get up bright and early the next morning, have some Keurig coffee at the hotel, and hit the road in search of some camp spot for the next couple of days. Our first stop is at “Little Molas Lake,” which unfortunately has no free spots available.

Our next place to check out is “Molas Lake Park & Campground,” which is an established campground, owned by the City of Silverton. There are only three sites available for the week-end, and we get the opportunity to drive around to pick the one we like best.

After we settle on a site for our stay, we pay and set up camp.

Our plan is to stay here for two nights, from 16 to 18 September, running some of the iconic trails in the San Juan mountains…

Once set up, since it’s still pretty early, we head back out to run ‘Red Mountain Mining Area” (the Southern section of the U.S. Basin trail) South to North.

After this first trail, we head across 550 up Black Bear, just to the pass, since this is Glenn’s first time driving these type of trails with narrow shelf roads, steps, and tight switchbacks in his manual Tacoma. Coming back down from Black Bear Pass, we take the “connector,” linking up Black Bear with Porphyry Gulch, and run up as far as we can toward Bullion King Lake.

After the day wheeling in the high mountains, we have built up a pretty good appetite and head back to camp to relax a bit, cook some grub, and have a couple of cold ones, exchanging war stories while sitting by the camp fire.

After a relaxing, albeit somewhat chilly, evening and night at camp, we head out the next day (17 September) for a nice loop of trails to let Glenn practice his narrow shelf road, steps, and tight switchback skills: We head from Silverton to Animas Forks, then up to Odom Point and Engineer Pass, before heading back via Animas Forks to California Gulch and pass then Hurricane Pass (CR 9, CR 19, CR 10) and back to 550 via Corkscrew Gulch (CR 11, CR 20A.)

We head back to camp via 550, have some dinner and a couple of cold ones sitting by the camp fire, before turning in for the night.

Next Saturday: We leave the Silverton area for a back-country drive to Montrose and then a night-run over the Rimrocker trail to Moab – What could possibly go wrong!? Well, since you’re asking – a lot can go wrong! Don’t ask us how we know… Stay tuned for the continuation of our W. CO / E. UT adventure next Saturday. You don’t want to miss that one, believe me :).

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