Trip report: San Juan River fishing, Mary Highland Lakes llama Trek, Telluride Blues and Blues Festival.


Introduction

This page provides a report of a trip we took that included fishing on the San Juan River below Navajo Dam, a llama trek to Highland Mary Lakes in the Weminuche Wilderness, and the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival in September of 2018.

On Friday, we drove from Amarillo to Silverton to pick up the panniers for our llamas so we could pack for the trek. We returned to Purgatory Ski Area and stayed there at about 8,700 feet elevation to begin acclimating to the altitude before trekking to Highland Mary Lakes at 12,000 feet.

Fishing

Photo Taylor with a Big Fish
Taylor with a Big Fish
Photo Donna with a Nice One.
Donna with a Nice One.

The next day we met our fishing guide at Duranglers and drove to the San Juan River below Navajo Dam in New Mexico. This spot has world class trout fishing. We had a great day with lots of fish and fun. We returned to Purgatory again and spent Saturday night there.

Llama Trek

On Sunday, we met the llama outfitter at the lower trailhead for Highland Mary Lakes, saddled and loaded the llamas, and hiked up to Highland Mary Lakes. If you are taking llamas, please note that two areas of the trail are not suitable for llamas. At one point, the trail passes through a narrow slot in steep rock. It is easy to bypass this problem with a small detour. Near the top, the trail passes over a talus field which is also not suitable for llamas. See the sidebar for maps and other information that show the locations of these two spots.

Photo Verde Lake and the Grenadier Range
Verde Lake and the Grenadier Range

We camped near the largest of Highland Mary Lakes for two nights. On Monday, I walked up to Verde Lake and enjoyed the beautiful view from there.

At night, the was no light pollution in this remote area. The moon did not come up until the early morning hours. The sky was cloudless. Consequently at 12,000 feet elevation, the stars were astonishing.

Tuesday afternoon we packed up, headed down to the trailhead, and camped there to avoid a 4:00 AM start on Wednesday to make it down to meet the llama outfitters and get to the airport on time for Taylor's return flight.

Photo Donna in Camp
Donna in Camp
Photo Llamas in Camp
Llamas in Camp
Photo Bob and Taylor in Camp
Bob and Taylor in Camp

On Wednesday morning we met the llama outfitter and returned the animals and gear. I have been on about 8 or 10 llama trips. On all my other trips the llamas were we behaved and easy to manage. The llamas on this trip were not. They balked and charged in front of us. One knocked Taylor down and another spit on Donna. The tack they supplied had problems. I will not use this outfitter again. If you want additional details please feel free to contact me here.

After dropping Taylor at the airport, we went to X-Rock just north of Durango to rock climb. We explored the area. There were only a few routes at our level, and these were all occupied by a group from Fort Lewis College. We decided not to climb there that day.

Telluride Blues and Brews Festival

Photo Beautiful Telluride
Beautiful Telluride

On Thursday, we drove to Telluride for Blues and Brews Festival. We met up with Connie and more of friends for a 4-day weekend of great music and beer. Connie and I now go almost every year.

Photo Toni, Donna, Connie, Vanda, Lydia, and Becky on Sunday Morning
Toni, Donna, Connie, Vanda, Lydia, and Becky on Sunday Morning
Photo Samantha Fish, Bal de Maison, Sheridan Opera House
Samantha Fish, Bal de Maison, Sheridan Opera House
Photo Vanda and Bob in the VIP Tent
Vanda and Bob in the VIP Tent