Backcountry Maintenance and Repair Kit Under One Pound
By Steve Eginoire
By Steve Eginoire
Planning a backpacking trip to the Durango area this summer? You've chosen well! The San Juan Mountains are roughly the size of the Swiss Alps, including the spectacular 499,771 acre Weminuche Wilderness- Colorado's largest designated wilderness area.
There are countless multi-day tours to choose from in the Weminuche that range from very popular, to areas that see very little human traffic.
The tour detailed below is a true San Juan wilderness experience. Be ready for a few hours of backcountry driving to access the trailhead.
You'll have to find your way to Rio Grande Reservoir Road (FS 520), either by way of Silverton or Creede. From FS 520, locate FS 506, heading south into Bear Creek. Drive FS 506 passing the Beartown site (you may encounter a spot or two of 4WD here) eventually arriving at Kite Lake and the road's end. Walking distance from the car park is the Hunchback Pass trailhead.
From the Hunchback Pass TH, follow the Continental Divide Trail south (813) up and over Hunchback Pass, to Nebo Creek. Make sure to follow the CDT (813) east, up the Nebo Creek drainage.
Once you exit the Nebo Creek drainage, continue on the CDT (813) for approximately 7 miles to Twin Lakes. Upon reaching the lakes, the route departs from the CDT (813). Locate Rock Creek trail (655) bearing south towards a high pass. From the top of the pass descend into the Rock Creek drainage, following Rock Creek trial (655) for approximately 5.7 miles until intersecting with Vallecito trail (529) at the bottom of the valley.
Bear north on the Vallecito trail (529) for appx. 3.1 miles to where the trail intersects the CDT (655) at Nebo Creek, closing the loop. Continue north on the CDT (655) back over Hunchback Pass for 2.5 miles to the cars.
*NOTE* The trail from Hunchback Pass TH to Rock Lake is consistently above 11,500 feet. Take the threat of lighting into careful consideration.
This was the 11th year Village Aid Project (VAP) at Fort Lewis College had designed and implemented water and sanitation projects abroad. To those who have not heard of the organization; here is a quick synopsis of the program.
VAP at Fort Lewis College is a student-centered, humanitarian organization whose mission is to partner with needy communities in the developing world to find sustainable solutions to their critical engineering problems. In addition, we are training a new generation of students who understand the need for sustainable systems and who value the concept of responsible global citizenship. Currently, VAP has worked in 5 different countries and has implemented projects in 24 different communities throughout the world.
This last month VAP traveled to Nicaragua to implement a water project in a village right along the border of Honduras, and build 30 latrines in three villages we had worked in previously. Also, a group traveled to Myanmar to implement a water project in a village that also works closely with the Shanta Foundation of Durango. All trips went smoothly, but had their fare share of adventure along the way.
In Myanmar, the group arrived to a village with a dried up water source. Troubles began with trying to design a system in village that would integrate another more un-known source with the source that had gone dry weeks prior. The group succeeded, and the village of Nong Boat has a nice new water system to call their own. On the other side of the world, the other two Fort Lewis crews were solving their own problems.
In Nicaragua, the water system team worked on the border of Honduras along side locals and armed infantry in the village of La Ceiba. La Ceiba is located in an area with many large hills, which made the system more difficult, however the system was badly needed for this community. The crews dug trench, laid pipe, and hoped they would finish the project before the water well in the village went dry. In the end, the crew and villagers did finish the job, and even had time to play a friendly match of futbol with the neighboring village in Honduras.
About 5 miles away from La Ceiba, in a neighboring valley, was the other VAP group. This other group was separated into three communities that VAP had built water systems for prier. The group was implementing a new latrine design. In total, 30 latrines were built and 60 more are planned for next year. This project, along with building latrines, gave us insight on the previous water systems. It was found that sickness and diarrhea in the villages was dropping noticeably. Also it was apparent that having readily available water in these villages was greatly needed.
Thanks Pine Needle for helping us out this last project, with your generous donation we were also fortunate enough to have convenient water on tap!
Spring skiing in the San Juans isn't all show-boating on big lines in perfect snow. While it IS quite exhilarating when your tracks can clearly be seen from the highway and enjoyed by all, sometimes unflattering conditions like dirty snow, ice runnels, and football fields of frozen avalanche debris can be worth the effort. Throw in a remote mountain most skiers have never heard of, a low probability of reaching the summit, a train, a couple of packrafts, and just like that, you have a top-quality spring skiing adventure like never before.