For every sortie into new territory, we connect more new dots that reveal the lay of the land. It's slow, painstaking work that requires an investment of decades. But we love every step, as, one by one, the rugged San Juan Mountains reward us with secrets. Who knows, maybe someday all these new dots will complete the "puzzle" and we can throw away our hiking maps and apps.
On the heels of a vertiginous hike to Hematite Lake, we head south over Red Mountain once again, almost to Silverton, where we set out to explore another "new dots" hike up Bear Creek. Right out of the gate there is a river to cross, the Animas, who's flow, thankfully, is at its usual autumnal low.
We slip/slide across, managing somehow to stay upright and dry.
After a couple short, steep climbs the trail moderates to a gentle bikeable grade. We note knobby tire tracks on the trail, but not sure which way they were going. As best we can tell, Bear Creek's Trail ends up connecting to the Colorado Trail near the Molas Lake area about eight to 10 miles, give or take. The CT from Molas toward Durango is popular and well used mountain bike trail nowadays. So the tracks on Bear Creek Trail might be "down-hill" thrill-seekers, especially since BCT comes out on Highway 550 only a few downhill miles from Silverton's Avalanche Brewery. Great IPAs and pizza!!!
Of course, all good things must come to an end. We can't imagine anyone pushing their bike up through the kind of boulder fields we suddenly encountered. Yep, those tire tracks are down-hillers from the CT, looking to make Gravity and tricked out suspensions to work for them.
|We didn't see any bikers on Bear Creek. It would have been interesting to see them navigate those boulder sections.|
Our goal of making it "somewhere," maybe the CDT or at least a saddle of some sort, is not to be on this day. We settle for a 9ish mile hike through New Dots and a plan to return for a reverse hike starting at Molas Lake and taking the Colorado Trail to Bear Creek Trail. This will require a vehicle drop at Bear Creek's Trailhead, which will be used to get us back to the vehicle left at Molas Lake. But hey, we've got adventurous friends!
It is in mountains that Bobbie and I feel most at home and connected. What landscape makes you feel most at home and connected?