On July 30th, a friend and I headed from Phoenix to Durango, CO for a six day backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness Area. Our goal was to cross through the Grenadier and Needle Mountains. Starting at Elk Creek and heading up into the Vestal Basin, crossing over the Grenadiers to Tenmile Basin. Then up and over another pass into Noname Basin, and finally up and over Monitor Pass into Ruby Basin.
Mileage wise, this trip wasn’t very high, around 24 miles, but it had several other factors making it a rugged trip for us. The first being altitude. Living in Phoenix at 1,200′ doesn’t do much for a backpacking trip that is mainly around 11,000′ and higher. Most of the trip was off trail which slows you down big time. The other being a lot of elevation gain, we had roughly 18,000′ of elevation gain planned. It was just about the same elevation gain as hiking out of the Grand Canyon in 4 miles every day, around 11,000′ of elevation, on no trails. Good times!
Oh yeah, and it rained on us pretty much the whole time, day and night. We spent a lot of time in tents because of the rain and/or cowering from mosquitoes.
Yes, the trip was totally worth it!
I really enjoy the Weminuche Wilderness area for many things. Scenery is definitely one of the main reasons, it’s just beautiful there. It’s also a great place to beat the heat from the summers in Arizona. Plus, you can be picked up and dropped off by a steam powered train! How cool is that!? You’ll hardly run into other people if you stay out of the Chicago Basin, another plus in my book.
The trip details :
- Days : 6 Planned. This included two zero days for resting, bumming around, relaxing, or weather delays.
- Actual Days : 5. We did a “short” day on day 3. We arrived at our final camping spot on day 4. We called the trip off a day early due to constant rain. Why sit around in a tent all day and night?
- Backpack Weight: Without water, my backpack was 28 pounds. That included food.
I did learn a few things on this trip… I am more physically fit than someone 14 years younger than me. Rain jackets can eventually become saturated and start failing. My water proof technique for backpacking is a proven and effective system now, which the exception of the rain jacket eventually becoming saturated!