Elk Park/Chicago Basin shuttle loop questions
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Leigh Baker
(leighb) - F

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Elk Park/Chicago Basin shuttle loop questions on 01/23/2013 05:08:27 MST Print View

I have only been backpacking for a couple of years. I do a lot of trips in AR fall to spring. For the past two summers I've gone with a group of friends to either the Pecos Wilderness or south San Juans. We plan on the Pecos again in June.
They are tentatively planning an additional trip to do the Elk Park/Chicago basin loop, taking the Durango-Silverton train. My questions revolve around a couple of issues. One, the trip is planned for late July, prime monsoon season, and two, it's higher elevation than I've done by nearly 2K feet. I'm on the fence about going mostly because both these issues are unknown to me,(have no experience with either) and maybe I'm just fearing the unknown. I know there will be afternoon storms, and we'll need to be off the ridges by noon or so. I haven't had issues with altitude on the past two trips,opting to stay well hydrated before and during the trip. However those trips haven't been much higher than 11,5K and this will be nearly 14. I guess I'm wondering if my concerns are valid enough not to go, maybe opting for trying to find a trip elsewhere where monsoons aren't an issue.
Thanks in advance!

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Chicago Basin on 01/23/2013 06:05:45 MST Print View

I did that area 2 years ago in July. I am a flatlander and don't get much high elevation. I would give you a strong "yes " The area is beautiful. The storms aren't that bad, at least not for us. Some thunderstorms and a little hail rolled in but there was a lot of clear skies too. Climb one of the 14ers if you get the chance. Eolus and Sunlight are a little rugged, but Windom is pretty easy. I say go.

Edited by alexdrewreed on 01/23/2013 07:15:50 MST.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
go on 01/23/2013 06:39:30 MST Print View

I say go also. You will be happy you did! Don't worry about storms. Bring good raingear and you'll be fine.

Edited by bwortman on 01/23/2013 06:58:57 MST.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 01/23/2013 07:07:31 MST Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 06/17/2013 19:47:54 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Peaks on 01/23/2013 07:49:51 MST Print View

Eolus can have a lot of snow in June and can be tricky if there is. I went on a heavy snow year in late July and Eolus still had a lot of snow. In fact, they had to helicopter a couple people off of Eolus while we were there because they slid down a snow slope and broke bones. We knew the conditions when we left so we fortunately had ice axes.
Its a great trip whether you top any peaks or not. If you are looking to top some peaks, look at some recent reports re conditions. I wouldn't let the weather stop me from walking that area, regardless.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Elk Park/Chicago Basin shuttle loop questions on 01/23/2013 09:00:01 MST Print View

I'm more familiar with Elk Park and north into the Highland Mary Lakes region, but at least at Elk Park, Beartown, etc.. you can get off the ridges and into the valleys, forests, etc.. by lunch. Just takes a bit of planning. For altitude adjustment, I'll usually overnight at Molas Pass TH (along with what seems to be about 15 other cars usually), then go into Silverton for pancakes before hitting the Highland Mary TH. If you are thinking about the rail and leaving a vehicle there, then a room in Durango is likely your best option the night before (it's a resort town, so a little pricey but just a little). Not sure of many public campsites from the south - Cuba NM and Jemez Springs areas are too far unless talking about a 3 AM wake up.

Edited by hknewman on 01/23/2013 09:03:02 MST.