Weminuche Wilderness backpacking adventure

Once we reached Silverton, you could tell it was trying to hold on to the look of the old west. A wide main street with buildings on either side of the street built back in the late 1800’s. It was a cool looking town. This was the town where the narrow gauge railroad made its stop and turned around. Most of the population there relies on the tourism from the train it seems.

Silverton, CO

Our plan was to day hike the Highland Mary Lakes trail which is in the northern Weminuche. We had difficulty finding the trailhead and returned to town to talk to the guy at the Forest Service office. He was very helpful and showed where we should have turned right when we went straight. While there I decided to ask him about the upcoming snow storm. He was kinda funny the way the interaction happened:

Me: “A you expecting snow around here?”
Ranger: “Yes” pause “Sometime in October.”

He looked up a weather forecast and assured us that there would only be rain, but no snow. Boy, I wanted to visit that guy after the trip.

We drove towards the trailhead. Along the way we came across a large flock of sheep that ranchers were grazing in the national forest. They were, of course, laying in the road. After some time, they got up and let me drive through. It had started raining at that point. We got to the parking area for the non off road vehicles where we ate lunch in my car while we waited for the rain to stop. Once it let up, we headed out for the trail. The trailhead was another mile or so from there as the road got more rough at this point. We just walked on the road.

Sheep in the road

The ranger encouraged us to bring our sandals as there is a stream to cross at the trailhead. We hiked with sandals in our backpack, but I was thankfully able to traverse the stream crossing in my boots and using my trusty trekking poles. I tell you what, I’m now a believer, thanks to Ramsey, in using those treking poles. I never once fell the entire trip and having those extra points of contact when crossing streams throughout the trip was completely necessary.

Not long after we started up the trail, an older couple was descending down the trail. They were in a hurry as it was beginning to rain again. It was a steep trail, and not very long. There’s a fair amount of elevation in a short amount of distance, which seems to be a theme in this area. Eventually we broke through tree line and had to traverse across a large talus/boulder field. Not far from there we came across our first lake. A short hike later we were able to get to an overlook to see more of the lake area. At this point we were already up to 12,000 ft. It was also late in the afternoon. We just wanted a nice day hike to help us get a bit acclimated and see some pretty scenery. I had read before how pretty it is in this region with wildflowers.¬†Unfortunately, this wasn’t during the wildflower season, but it was still a pretty hike. I was finally able to see the Highland Mary Lakes area. We descended back to the car and headed into town for the night.

One of the Highland Mary Lakes

The hotel we stayed at was called The Teller House. It was along the main strip in town. The hotel was built in 1896. It had a restaurant on the bottom floor and the rooms were up on the second floor. We took one of the only rooms that had a private bathroom. It was rustic and historic. Not the best place I’ve stayed, but adequate. The staff was friendly but very busy. It had high tin decorated ceilings with lots of high windows. An interesting place to stay. We walked down the street for supper. There wasn’t much that was open in town. Out of humor’s sake, we chose the Brown Bear Cafe (read the CA trip post to understand why). It was OK food. The inside was decorated very nicely with stuff. It had a historic old bar inside that was cool to look at.

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