Trip Report, September 2014
Backpacking: Vallecito Creek, Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado
21st Annual Telluride Blues and Brews Festival
This is a report of the backpacking trip we made in September, 2014. We hiked up
and camped along Vallecito Creek in the Weminuche Wilderness in southwestern Colorado.
See the sidebar for maps and trip planning reference info. After backpacking, we
went to the 21th Annual Telluride Blues &
Taylor and I drove from Amarillo to Durango (7 1/2 hours, 523 miles) on September
5. We had dinner at the Sow's Ear at
Silverpick and stayed in
our townhouse at Silverpick by Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort.
We stayed up late, sat on the deck listening to music, and conversed with Messrs. Glenmorangie
The next morning, we drove from Purgatory to the Vallecito Creek trailhead (1 hour
30 minutes, 52 miles). It rained off and on while we followed the trail up the river
valley. We stopped at a nice campsite in a clearing beside Vallecito Creek (4.1
miles, +1290 feet ascent, -82 feet descent).
This area had excellent high country fishing. There were lots of small brook trout
and a few somewhat larger rainbows in the bigger pools. Normally, I return the fish
to the water after catching them, but one day we kept enough for dinner. We skewered
them on a stick and roasted them over the campfire coals.
We spent three nights at this very pleasant spot fishing, lounging, day hiking,
and watching the fire at night. It rained off and on every day and night. On the
third night it rained very hard and water got inside Taylor's shelter and soaked
most of his clothing. His sleeping bag got wet as well. The next morning we decided
to head out a day early. We hiked down the creek and returned to Durango.
The next day, Connie flew into Durango to join us for the trip to Telluride. We
had a great dinner at Eolus Bar & Dining
21st Annual Telluride Blues and Festival
On Thursday, September 11, we took the 4-wheel drive road over Ophir Pass to Telluride.
The scenery along the way was spectacular (By regular roads: 2 hours 15 minutes,
95 miles). The east side of the road is fairly sedate before reaching the pass summit
at 12,789 feet. West of the pass, the road descends a narrow, rugged bench carved
out of a steep talus slope. In a few places, I had to get out of my stock Subaru
Forester, look at the road, and assess whether we had enough ground clearance to
proceed. Despite my apprehension, we were able to get down without any problems.
Not everyone enjoyed this part of the ride.
Ophir was at one time an almost dead, remote, mining camp. Now it is experiencing
a revival but it remains a tiny, quirky hamlet. We saw this picturesque post office
In Telluride, we stayed at the Camel's Garden
Hotel, 250 W. San Juan Ave, (970) 728-9300. It is reasonably priced
(for Telluride during a major event) and ideally located just a few blocks
the main stage and immediately adjacent to the gondola to Mountain Village
Late afternoon Thursday, we rode the gondola up to Mountain Village to watch the
free Sunset Blues Concert featuring Dragondeer and Ryan McGarvey. We sat on the
Grille, 119 Lost Creek Ln, Mountain Village, CO 81435, (970) 728-6293,
which has a nice view of the stage and good food and beverages.
That night, we went to the Bal De Maison show at the Sheridan Opera House to see
Amy Helm and the Handsome Strangers. Their performance that night and again the
next day on the main stage was one of the highlights of the weekend.
Friday morning, I had a very pleasant run up the Bear Creek Trail to a waterfall.
For the next three days, we listened lots of great music. My favorites included
The Robert Cray Band, Dumpstaphunk, and The Meter Men. I liked Buddy Guy's performance
most of all.
We enjoyed the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon with over 170 varieties of craft
beers from 56 different breweries. Friday night, we ate good French food at
La Marmotte, 150 San Juan Ave, (970) 628-6232. Sunday night we had
an outstanding dinner (and the most expensive food I have ever eaten)
at the New Sheridan
Chop House, 233 W Colorado Ave, (970) 728-9100.
Monday, the three of us made the long drive back to Amarillo (9 hours, 30 minutes,