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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Another "New Dots" Hike Requires A Wade Across The Animas River

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.

Bobbie starts her Gaia app to record miles and elevation stats

A short hike from the car lands us on the banks of the Animas River, it's clear water tainted by a slippery brown scum on submerged rocks. Bobbie and I stop to swap boots for water-shoes, then wade the ice cold water (squeal). See video below...

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. 

Piece of cake! Between boulder screes the BCT returns to a nice, albeit narrow, trail with a red mountain luring you homeward and dazzling peaks. Ms Autumn is just now beginning to add touches of color from her palette.

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?

Peace out,
mark and bobbie


  1. It is amazing that you still have dots left to connect after all these years! I'd say I feel most at home in the mountains as well, though I am happy in both forests and above timberline; I know you are not a fan of forest blocking your view. I especially like hiking near water of any kind...streams, rivers, lakes, ocean...it's all good. Thank goodness we have mother earth to soothe our weary souls.

  2. Looking forward to more Fall photos

  3. Wow that was exciting just to see you in a new area Mark. Hey one of our favorite locations is S Mineral Crk, we always explore the side hills and Aspen forrest so the Rocky gets some good running in and swimming in the S Mineral Crk at the campground. Now we have aways seen lots of hikers heading into the mts from that camp ground, just wondering if you have explored that area ?
    Exciting to see the Aspens turning in your pictures, looks to be pretty much on schedule. Boy we will miss being there this year for sure, you can bet we will be looking at lots of photo books of our visits over the yrs. Another thing I always do every Sept is read David Petersons book Among The Aspens, it's a 9 1/2 by 12 book with pic's by Branson Reynolds, both of which live in SW CO, at least at the time of publication ( 1991)....it's my fantasy dream life which they lead living in an Aspen grove at 8,oooft year around :)
    but I digress......
    Yesterday I was up on the back hill gathering D Fir kindling and I realized this could be my last year for such activity, don't think these legs with permit it next year....
    D &A


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