Almost Summer in the San Juan Mountains
The last weekend of Spring, Sonia and I drove up to the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. We were headed for the little ski village Purgatory, in between Durango and Silverton. Sonia’s friend has a condo, and kindly let us borrow it for the weekend. Purgatory is about a half hour from Durango, but it’s at an elevation of about 8700 feet, so the weather can be drastically different from Durango’s at 6500 feet. The air was a lot chillier as we pulled in. It was clearly off season when we got there, and very quiet, perfect for us.
The first day we decided to have a slow morning, and go for a short hike, as it was supposed to rain in the afternoon. Sonia had been reading about some of the trails on AllTrails and a lot of them were still impassable because of snow. We decided to just go check them out, go for a walk, and decide on a longer hike to do the following day. We decided to try the trails near Molas Lake. We drove by the trailhead for the upper trail, and it was still blocked off, with the road still too snowy for cars or trucks. So we went a bit furthur to the trailhead for the lower lake. We started hiking down, and it was clear that snow had just melted or it had rained a ton, it was the muddiest trail we’d been on possibly ever. We walked down and around Molas Lake. There is a campground there, and I really want to get back there to stay sometime soon. As we got about halfway around the thunderstorm arrived and we had to quickly throw on our rain gear. It wasn’t raining too hard, so I didn’t mind, especially because those mountains looked really beautiful in the rain.
The Colorado Trail runs near Molas Lake, and we decided to come back the next day and hike the part of the trail that goes down to the Animas River. We drove into Silverton after our walk, and saw the train about to leave for Durango. The train runs between Silverton and Durango, along the river. We’ve never done it, as it’s a lot slower of a trip, but I imagine it’s a beautiful ride.
The next day was sunny and warmer, much nicer for a longer hike. The Aspens still had tiny leaves at this elevation. The first part of the trail is very open, and it feels very much like you’re walking through the Sound Of Music, but in the San Juan Mountains instead of the Alps.
As we descended much of the rest of the trail was in the forest. There was a lot of snow left in among the trees, and without the sun the temperature dropped. Further down, there were some beautiful look out spots, with a great view of the river. We didn’t make it quite the whole way to the river. We saw and heard the train go by, snaking along the river.
On our way back up, at the end of the trail, we found a waterfall. I’m ready to get back to the mountains.