Trip Report: Weminuche Backpacking and Telluride B&B Festival, September 2006
Our trip started off with backpacking in the Noname Creek drainage in the Weminuche
Wilderness in southwestern Colorado and finished with a trip to the Telluride Blues
and Brews Festival.
Click here to see the photos from our backpacking
On Friday, September 8, Taylor and I drove through rain and light snow to Durango
and stayed in my townhouse at Silverpick.
On Saturday, we loafed around Durango to acclimate before hiking up to the high
country. We had coffee at the Durango Coffee Festival and drove out to check on
my property in the Pine Song development east of town. We had a notable dinner at
The Hamilton Chop House at Tamarron Resort (update February 17, 2012: now out of
We had to get up early to catch the 9:00 AM
& Silverton Narrow Gauge Train and ride from Durango to Needleton.
at Needleton on the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness at about 11:30 AM.
At Needleton, especially in the summer, hordes of people get off the train and hike
to Chicago basin. I have nicknamed the trail to Chicago basin "I-14" because it
gets heavy traffic from the many people that use it to access the three fourteeners
there: Eolus, Sunlight, and Windom. It is a beautiful area that I have visited and
enjoyed numerous times over that past 35 years. If you go there don't expect solitude,
especially in July and August.
Our plans entailed a less traveled route. We begin our trek north along east side
of the Animas River to the Noname Creek drainage. This trail is not described in
most Weminuche hiking guides and is not marked on most maps. A description can be
found in Gerry and Jennifer Roach's book,
Colorado's Thirteeners, 13,800 To 13,999 Feet, From
Hikes to Climbs. See the sidebar to view my maps and
The start of the Animas River trail going north from Needleton is braided and difficult
to follow. Once beyond the meadows just north of Needleton, the trail follows the
river and is much better defined. The hike requires a climb up and over the much
maligned Water Tank Hill. The view from the top is nice and the difficulties over-rated.
We went down the steep part going in and up it going out without much difficulty
even though the trail was muddy and slick.
As the Animas River trail approaches the alluvial fan at the mouth of Noname Creek,
it again becomes braided and difficult to follow. Just north of Noname Creek and
south of an old utility pole with an insulator on top, we camped at a choice site
next to the Animas River. Without trying to move very fast, we reached this point,
2.4 miles from the start, in about 2 1/2 hours.
In the past, the Animas River had no fish at all north of its junction with Cascade
Creek. In the 1990's, a major cleanup of the mining sites along the river north
of Silverton was completed. This fish have now returned as evidenced by Taylor's
The next day, we traveled up Noname creek to Jagged Cabin where we spent the next
two nights. The cabin is in very poor repair with a roof that is full of holes.
The view up the valley is dazzling especially when the sunset alpenglow lights up
At the cabin, we had a pet deer. This young looking doe hung around our campsite
and showed very little fear of us. She sneaked off with Taylor's hiking stick, chewed
up the grip, and left it at least a hundred feet away from our campsite. Surprisingly,
we saw no marmots despite several large talus fields nearby.
The next day we hiked further up the valley along the approach route to Jagged Peak.
I hope to climb this peak next summer. The southwest entrance of the meadow at 11,600
feet along Noname creek would make a great campsite.
We had planned to day hike to Lake 12552 and then up to the pass between pass between
Peak Five and Peak Six. We ran out of time negotiating the steep step below the
lake. I have been to this pass before. It affords an absolutely breathtaking 360°
panoramic view of the San Juan's.
After a second night at Jagged Cabin, we retraced our steps back down Noname Creek
and again camped by the Animas River where we spent the first night. On the way,
we saw some bear scat on the trail that contained remnants of honey combs. The next
day we had any easy hike back to Needleton and the train.
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival 2006
Click here to see the photo album
from the festival.
Connie drove in from Amarillo and was in the
Sow's Ear Bar at Silverpick when we got back from the backpacking trip.
We had a nice meal at the newly expanded restaurant there. The next morning,
drove to Telluride via Silverton and Ouray. Low clouds and snow obscured
on the normally picturesque drive.
This is the third year in a row that Connie and I have gone to the
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. We accidentally discovered it two years
ago when we happened to be in the area when it was going on. It is held outdoors
in the Telluride Town Park in mid-September each year. The venue is spectacular.
Telluride is surrounded by resplendent mountains that are usually covered with blazing
colors of yellow, orange, and red from the Aspen trees at this time of the year.
The music starts on Friday afternoon and ends Sunday evening. Although there is
plenty of blues music, there is a wide variety of other rock, jazz, and other genres
typically with a decidedly southern and particularly New Orleans flavor. The headliners
this year were Lou Reed, Bruce Hornsby, and John Mayer. Each year I have been, I
am blown away by one or more bands that I see there that I've never heard of before.
Check the Telluride B&B website
to see some of the artists from previous years and you will see names like Robert
Cray, B. B. King, The Neville Brothers, Joe Cocker, Los Lobos, and John Mayall just
to name a few.
Connie, Taylor, & I enjoyed the music Friday afternoon and evening. Cindy and Don
joined us on Saturday.
Saturday from 1:00-3:00 PM is the time for the Grand Tasting. For two hours, festival
goers can sample over 100 different beers from fifty different microbreweries. Limiting
the all you can drink beer tasting to two hours keeps the party civil and prevents
the development of a drunken brawl. After tasting about ten different wheat beers,
Odell's Easy Street Wheat remains my favorite.
Here is a sample of some music by Joey Gilmore who performed Saturday afternoon.
I had never listened to his music before but his performance in Telluride was one
of my favorites. Sunday morning, Connie, Taylor and I drove back home. Don and Cindy
got to stay and watch John Mayer on Sunday evening.
If you want be attend the Telluride B & B Festival, be sure to plan ahead. It
usually sells out before the first day of the festival. Ditto for the hotels in
Telluride. Tickets can be purchased online from their
website. Be sure to bring warm and waterproof clothing and plenty of sunscreen.