Colorado August 2008
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 1....... August 11

The first day of this two week adventure actually started in Durango at the United Campground. I woke up around 0630 and
went to the laundry room to plug in my AA battery charger. I still had 8 batteries to charge before leaving. Mean while I
showered, shaved, etc, plus I ate. Finally I was able to get packed. Then, I got the wild notion to bring my new stove(A MSR
Whisperlite). I got it out, test fired it, All was good. Then I decided I should also bring my new water filter, MSR Sweetwater.
Black. Finally around 0930 plus, I left the campground headed for the trail head. On the way I talked to Orene (friend), Mary
Nell (sister), Judy(friend), Nancy (friend).Left msg for Cindy(friend), and Del (friend). I got to the trail head around 11:00 AM
and started my final pack. Kept forgetting things. Kept repacking. Finally I got my memory photos taken and was ready to
leave. I left the car at 1:10 PM. Registered at the trail head at 1:30 PM, and off I went. Wasn't long till two females passed
me. Later, I saw them on a rock by the river. One was naked, the other was in panties, etc. I continued on. I think today I saw
15 people. All day hikers, fishing, etc. I reached the first bridge at 5;00 PM, at 37-3-38.4N, 107-32-08.2W. And I finally found
a super nice campsite at 6:30 PM at 37-31-53.9N, 107-31-40.9W. I got water, set up tent here by the river. Ate dinner,
Polynesian Chicken, was good. Now it is 8:30 PM and I am about ready for bed. The bottom of my feet hurt like hell. Been a
long time since they carried a load like this...
** Note** I did not weigh the pack before I left this time, but I'm guessing it was between 80 and 90 pounds when I left the car.
Some of the items I was carrying was: Food  = 22 Pounds. This is 15 bags, each weighing 1.5 pounds. In each zip lock bag is
one Mountain House dinner, one Mountain House Granola breakfast, three Clif Bars, four bags of green tea. I was also
carrying my camera(A95 Canon Powershot), 30 AA batteries for the camera and the GPS. The GPS actually went the whole
trip on two rechargable Energizer 2500 milliamp batteries.  I only used it for a few minutes each day. I had a Whisperlite stove
and two fuel bottles, one was 33 ounce and other 22 ounce. I carried a Z-Rest pad and Western Mountaineer Antelope
sleeping bag with extra down. It does not have the water resistant shell. I carried an MSR Sweetwater water filter, with two of
the lexan water bottles and two of the Nalgene 96 ounce collapsible water carry bags.. Only problem is, the 96 ounce bags
only hold 64 ounces.. Nalgene missed the boat on that one ... I carried a roll of paper towels and a long handle titanium
spoon from REI, which works great for eating out of the Mountain House dinner pouches. Keeps my fingers a lot less messy
than the little plastic spoons we used to use. Everything else was about normal for a backpacker. I do have two stents in my
heart, so I carried a lot of meds that my doctor has prescribed for me... Seems to work!!!!!!
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 2....... August 12, 2008

This was my second day on the trail and it was beautiful!!! The weather was just perfect. It was 45 degrees. I was able to get
on the trail around 9:50 AM. My only problem for the day happened happened when I had to wade the creek( Vallecito Creek)
after lunch. The club soda bottle I carry in my waist pack was gone when I got across the creek. I guess it fell out and was
washed away. I looked for it for awhile and gave up, time to move on. I reached the Johnson Creek Trail at 4:00 PM.  My feet
were hurting, but I pressed on. Finally found a nice site next to a creek just after 5:30 PM. Just after I found the site, another
male backpacker went by going north. Over all it was a great day, except for wading the creek and losing my bottle. This
morning I saw about 6 people, and this evening I saw 3, I think. It is now 7:50 PM and I am going to bed. Campsite 02 is at
37-36-02.8N, 107-32-06.9W.
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 3....... August 13, 2008

This was a great day, beautiful weather like when I first started backpacking in Colorado in 1986. The trail today was rather
easy, not much elevation change. Also there were few scenic views. Most all the trail is in heavy timber. Nice walking, but not
much to look at, and there were lots of flies. They did not bite, but they were a pest. I met one bald headed guy from
Colorado, then later a couple who were friends of his. Then at the fallen tree I met a neat young couple from Canada. This
was at 12:15 PM, or so. We chatted, took photos, and I repaired their hiking pole for them. They were Mike and Rachel.
They were in college. Med school for him, psychology for her. I saw about 10 people today. Talked to about 5 of them. Two
guys said they had been out for 12 days, planned to be gone 15. I crossed Rock Creek at about 3:50 PM. Then took a bunch
of photos of the orange rocks. Then I checked out my old campsite. It was open, so I took it. Nice spot on a hill over looking
the valley, etc. I ate dinner after getting water. Now I am writing notes and watching the sun set on the mountains. It is now
7:41 PM. Mosquitoes are biting me. ( I used the exact same tent site as last year when I was here. Tent location was
37-39-18.1N 107-31-12.2W.)
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 4....... August 14, 2008

This was another great day. I got up at 7:00 AM, and left the camp at 0900. Along the hike today I counted about 20 people,
maybe 25. Most were from Texas. Met a young couple, engineers from Dallas. Behind them was the young man's parents, a
federal judge and his wife. Met two engineers with their sons and some other young guys. Most were students at Texas
A&M. Met another Texas group, but did not visit. I got to the trail divide at about 2:40 PM and crossed the bridge at 3:00 PM.
Great views of the mountains from here. I picked a campsite below the bridge. Set up tent, got water, took photos, etc. Then,
ate dinner.- Macaroni and Cheese-- was good!! Then another hiker and his dog came to visit. New Orleans man, Christian
Boone and his dog Daniel. I took their photo. We talked til near dark. Very interesting 67 year old guy whose wife died last
year of cancer. He hikes, ski's, etc. He is really into health food, etc. Finally at dark I came to bed. Christian and Daniel are
camped nearby.  It is now 8:45 PM. Was a great day. Now I start for the high country in the morning. I had to change camera
batteries for the first time on this trip at around 5 PM, after I got to camp and took the flower photos. Looks like I got 434
photos on this set of batteries.( Tent site was at 37-35-01.3N, 107-31-52.4W)
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 5 ....... August 15, 2008

This was another near perfect day. I got up early, around 7:00 AM. Intended to leave early, but Christian came over to talk
and this slowed me down. I finally did leave at 10:00 AM. Took photos of Christian's food hanging from the bridge. After I
went in for the night(day 4), Christian came over and got me to go help him get water, then I walked up to the bridge with him
and dog Dan. I held my light while he ate some of his food. I think it was some dry oatmeal and some soy powder. He also
showed me a small head of cabbage he had brought along!! I waded Johnson Creek at near 10:30 AM. Then headed up the
trail. It was hard going. All uphill!! Met about 12 people today. Brian was a 32 year old truck driver from Durango. Josh was a
nurse student from Denver. One couple was from Fort Collins. The best views I have seen so far were today. Beautiful. I
took lots of photos. I saw a hornet nest on the side of a big rock. Did not know there were hornets up here. Beautiful nest. I
finally found a  great campsite around 5:30. Beautiful place next to creek with awesome views. This is my best campsite so
far. Location 37-35-07.7N, 107-34-59.2W. Went to pee at 9:30 PM. Saw bear eyes(or so I think) in my headlight. Ran it off
with rocks and noise. It came to my tent later. I had to run it off twice by banging rocks together, flashing my headlamp,
hollering and throwing rocks where I thought it was.
It would run back and make woofing sounds kinda like snorting. It was about 15 feet away when it did this. After the second
time it did not come back, at least I did not hear it.
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 6 ....... August 16, 2008

I may have to rethink the bear thing last night. Tonight I had some deer come visit me, and lick my pee places, and their eyes
were about the same distance apart as the thing last night.  Guess I will never be sure of last night. Today was a hard day,
and tomorrow may even be even more difficult. I got us this morning to a hard wind and some rain, which stopped soon. I ate,
went potty, packed and left about 9:40 AM. It was an uphill climb until 2:08 PM when I reached the Columbine Pass. Earlier I
met a preacher from Boulder, named Cliff, and his friend Dwight, a paralegal from Chicago. We visited. Later I met Dave(and
his dog), an electrical engineer from Durango. Then I met two forest service employees doing their seasonal jobs. I reached
Columbine Lake at 1:00 PM. Got water and ate lunch there. *** At about 12:20 the sleet pellets started coming down hard.
This was an on and off thing the rest of the afternoon. At the pass it was cold(45 degrees) and super windy, with thunder and
lightening in the area. I did manage to get some memory photos. I peed on the pass, a tradition, then headed downhill at
2:38ish. It was very steep going down, but I had changed socks for the first time this morning, so I put on the heavy ones,
which seemed to help my feet. I met three people and a dog headed to the pass on this side, down half way or so, and it was
around 4:00 PM. Wonder if they made it over. I found two old mines on the way down. Saw a lot of people camped by the
creek. The campsite I found is awesome. Great views. Got water. Found a private, but crude, cabin. Might be a forest service
building. I ate dinner with a great view. Now I am wondering if I really can do tomorrows plan. Will be hard to do two passes
with as much weight as I am carrying. Camp 6 is at 37-36-40N 107-36-37W. I arrived here at 6:00 PM.
Notes from memory: The hike from Camp 5 was great fun, especially since I was headed to the famous Columbine Pass. The
hiking is a steady uphill fight, but has great views all the way, so it was worth it. As for the sleet, I was chugging along and
enjoying the hike when I met these two federal employees. We chatted for awhile. One of them was a meteorologist who was
doing summer work here for the summer, but his next job was starting this fall in Antarctica. I think the other one was going
back to finish his college degree. It did feel great to make it to the top of Columbine Pass.. Really great feeling. Probably the
best on the whole trip, or the second best.. Day 10 will have an awesome view on it. Getting down off the pass is a bit tricky
when you are carrying as much weight as I was.. The steepness is an issue, but the trail is make of little rocks that roll
around like marbles..   
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 7 ....... August 17, 2008

This was one long hard day. Just about killed my feet. I woke around 6:30 AM. Did breakfast. Packed and left at 0800. It was
32 degrees. The famous white goats came to visit as I was about to leave. Daddy, mama, and baby. I hurried every chance I
got to get to the pass early. I reached Columbine at 11:30 AM. Was a beautiful day and rushed towards Trimble Pass. Went
through a lot of flowers on a poor trail. I reached Trimble Pass at 1:40 PM. Took photos and ate lunch there. Beautiful views.
Then I took off. There is almost no trail, just carins and I lost them in 20 minutes or so. Had to use GPS to get back on trail. I
was off maybe 100 yards. The carins were bad, but got great after awhile. Some were huge. There was no good place to
camp on the mesa trail. It was all boulder fields from the start. Beautiful, but no camp place. Found an old mine at 3:45 PM.
Some old boards + a wench thing and a deep hole!!! I moved on, my feet were killing me. Beautiful country and awesome
great weather. I finally came to some lakes in the high country and decided this would have to do. Great viws, and there
were 1000 sheep in the valley below below me. It may get cold and windy here but it is an awesome location, which I got to
at 5:42 PM. Coords here are 37-33-28.3N, 107-35-58.3W. It was 40 degrees nearly all day. It was 35 degrees  when I went
in my tent at about 8:00 PM. It is 12, 224 feet here.
Notes from memory.. Besides the hike over Columbine Pass, the mesa area is the most awesome area I visited. If I ever go
back to this part of the wilderness, I want to spend more time here.. It is super.. And if anyone reading this plans a trip to
wilderness, try real hard to visit the mesa.. I think the photos will show you what I mean.
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 8 ....... August 18, 2008

Today was good for the most part. I am pissed that I missed the spot on the map called Logtown. I thought the trail went by,
but discovered later at City Reservoir when I looked at my map, the site was on the other side of the creek with no
connections. I missed it. Maybe next time. This morning I changed the batteries in my camera for the second time on this trip
on this trip. I also also heated a pot of water and was my face and my butt, which was beginning to smell. I smell all the time.
Seems the altitude and my food are working overtime to make lots of gas. I packed up and left camp at about 9:50 AM. In a
little while the mesa was gone and I was back in the trees. I stopped at Lake Marie for a break and photos about 11:17 AM.
Then headed down the trail. Had plenty of time to see Logtown, but missed it. I got to City Reservoir Dam at 1:30 PM. This is
when I discovered I missed Logtown. I ate lunch at the dam, which looks like an over size beaver dam. When I left I met three
guys camped below the dam. They were from Durango. I continued on until I came to my campsite on the Missouri Gulch at
4:00 PM. I can hear sheep up the gulch above. Saw lots of tracks and shit down by the creek. Here by my tent are two cat
holes where people pooped. I have a nice campsite, but the view is nothing like yesterday. And yesterday was all sun. Today
is mostly clouds. It is 7:11 PM. I'm ready for bed. Tired feet. Saw 4 people today. One sheep herder, plus 3 fishermen. Ten
location 37-32-45.3N,
Note from memory: The climb down from camp 7 was really neat, and I really do wish I had gotten to visit the Logtown site.
Later I would meet the predator control guy who works the area all the time, and he told me there really was nothing there
anymore.. Also, later I would learn from other hikers that after I left the dam, one of the fisherman or another hiker in the area
had broken an ankle after I left. The injured person was waiting for a someone to go get a sheep herder and horse to take
the person to out of the mountains and to medical help.. I will learn later that there are sheep owners, about 4 of them with
1000 sheep each who will get government permits to bring the sheep up into the mountains to graze for the summer, then be
walked back to New Mexico to be butchered for the meat.. No shearing anymore, wool is near worthless with all the
synthetics now on the market.. When they move the sheet from location to location, they make a lot of noise, they poop and
pee a lot and stink to high heaven... I also experienced this in the Wind River Range in Wyoming several years ago when I
backpacked the south loop in the Big Sandy Lake area. The sheep that time were feeding around Aaron Lake(?) and Skull
Lake. Was really glad to get away from them.
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 9 ....... August 19, 2008

9:27 AM. I woke up around0730, there was ice on the inside of my tent. I checked the temp outside and it was 20 degrees.
Now it is near 45 degrees, not a cloud in site. Beautiful day. I will leave camp 8 in a few minutes... … It is now 7:50 PM. And I
am in my tent. Dinner is done and when I finish my notes I will be ready to sleep. It is 40 degrees outside now. Today was an
okay day but nothing special. I walked all day on trails torn to hell and covered with horse shit. And probably some some
sheep shit. For the last hour I can hear about 500 sheep in the valley just west of me. Nothing quite and peaceful here. I did
meet two young people around 1:00 PM? The male was from Littleton, Colorado. The female was from China. They do
medical research in Boston. I reached camp at 5:00 PM., I think. Nice place. Someone else camped in this same spot not
long ago. The couple I met was named Eric and Shuo-Wang. ( Eric gave me his email, but I will not publish it here). The
location of my tent is
37-32-59.8N, 107-39-49.6W. Elevation is 11,592 feet.
Notes from memory: The horses and the sheep really make a mess of the trails in the mountains. You will see some of this in
my photos. I often write about the mess the horses are making in the mountains. It is really nasty. The two people I met today
were really neat, and I will meet them again before this trip is over. Either here or later, I will learn that when they finish their
research in Boston, they will be moving to Norway to do a research project there.. Fun couple...
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 10, Wednesday ....... August 20, 2008

WOW, what a day. It was an action packed day. I think this was one of my best days. But also my most dangerous(so far). I
left camp about 9:20 AM. Got to the Lime Mesa trail at 11:00 AM. The trail up to then was awful. Lots of horse damage +
horse shit. At about 11:00 AM., I met a man on horse back. Turns out he was Clayton Wilson and dog Willey. Horse had no
name. Clayton works for the Department of Agriculture as predator control for the area. He was checking sheep camps
today. He kills bears, mountain lions, and coyotes that are bothering the sheep herds. He has killed both lions and bears this
week. Says I can go out on patrol with him sometime.. I'd love to. We talked til after noon. I took photos of him and his dog,
etc. I hurried on to Dollar lake where I ate lunch at 1:10 PM. Then got back to walking. Walked through wide open country.  
Could see for miles. Then at  3:45 PM I came to the best I think I have seen so far. I was on the ridge over looking Ruby and
Emerald Lake. ( I could only see Emerald Lake from this view point). Was just awesome. I sat for 45 min and just looked.
Then I started towards Ruby Lake. Was so steep that my feet kept sliding our from under me. I was
concerned, but made it. Chatted at the lake for a second with one fellow, and a little later I met and ha long chat with Jim, a
retired dentist who now lives near Pagosa Springs. He wants to hike the Colorado Trail, with lama. Told him I would be
interested in going. Then I headed for Emerald Lake. This is the most dangerous section if trail I have been on. There was
almost no trail there and what little there was went near straight down through rocks, brush, and water. Near the bottom of
the hill there was not more trail. I used GPS to get on down to Emerald. Just as I was arriving, I saw a herd of about 100 elk,
but by the time I got my camera set(for the late evening light), they were gone. I got to my campsite at 7:00 PM. My tent
position is37-35-25.6N, 107-39-56.1, elevation is 11,303. I got water, ate, and now I am ready for bed after I pee. It is now
9:20 PM and I'm tired. Note, there is a sign here that says this is private property and helicopters may land here. How about
Notes from memory: Getting down from the ridge to Ruby Lake was a bit tense, but that was just a warm up for the the hike
from Ruby down to Emerald. It would have been so easy to have broke a leg or been badly hurt on what was supposed to be
a trail between the lakes. The National Geographic, Trail Illustrated map showed a trial there, but in truth, these was none.
Travel beyond Ruby Lake should be left to the most experienced hikers, who have help with them. No place to be by ones
self. Little was I to know that the next day was going to be many times worse, thanks to bad map data from Garmin. Garmin's
positioning seems to be good, but the map data they are selling is junk. Dangerous junk.
Photo Slideshow
Colorado Backpack Trip Diary....... Day 11, Thursday ....... August 21, 2008

This had to be the worst day in my backpacking days!! (ALL OF THEM, Thanks to Garmin). The data in my Garmin GPS
damn near got me killed. It shows a primitive trail from Emerald Lake down to new York Creek. I planned my route
accordingly. Shortly after leaving Emerald Lake, the trail ended(what might have been a trail, but was most likely a path to
the bathroom place used by fishermen who flew in). I tried to follow the trail shown on the GPS. I got down to the mountain to
a place where I could not go back. The GPS took me to the edge of a bluff. The GPS trail went straight down the bluff. I had
to make a way down the mountain. I discovered someone else had tried this because I found an orange in the woods by a
log. At one point it got so steep I got my old nylon rope out and started lowering my pack downhill ahead of me. Finally I was
able to lower it down into an old creek bed and then drag it down through the rocks. Sometimes I still used the rope to let it
down ahead of me. . Truth is I was scared to death I was not going to get out alive, or if I did I would have lots of injuries and
would have to be rescued. I cussed Garmin a lot today and prayed to the angels and the mountain gods to get me
out. They did. Finally at about 2;15 PM I crossed Needle Creek and climbed up to the trail. I was so stressed I could hardly
talk to the two guys I met there. Bill from Atlanta and Cliff from Colorado Springs. I headed for the Chicago Basin. I was never
to happy to see a trail and people as when I got to the Needle Creek Trail. Once down, I looked back and studied the ordeal I
had just been through!!! I am still feeling the effects of the adrenaline. On the trail to the basin, I met Eric and Shuo-Wang
again at 4:14 PM. We visited a long time and took photos. I finally got close to the basin and asked a camper about tent
sites. A guy named Dave, a retired elementary superintendent led me to a great site here by the creek where I am now. His
wife is Janet. They live in Silina. My tent site  is 37-36-15.5N, 107-37-14.6W. Other GPS reading for today: Pond, 0945 AM,
37-35-41.0N, 107-39-51.8W. Orange at 10:03 AM, 37-35-46.2N, 107-39-49.3W. Here(?) at 10:11 AM37-35-45.3N,
107-39-51.9W.  Here(?) at 10:17 AM, 37-39-48.3N, 107-39-50.4W. Here( The draw ended. 10:23 AM 37-35-49.6N,
107-39-46.5W. Here(?) at 10:41 AM, 37-35-45.5N, 107-39-48.3W. Here (?) at 10:49, 37-35-46.9N, 37-35-46.9W. Down over
rocks at 11:18 AM, 37-35-50.9N, 107-35-35.2W. Here(?) 11:21 AM. 37-35-51.5N, 107-39-37.2W. Rope stuff and me down at
12:19 PM, 37-35-51.0N, 107-39-34.5W. This is the one I got to where I thought my luck had run out. I came to a ledge that I
had no way (down). But, I looked for a solution. Luck was with me again. Someone before me had been to this same place,
only they had some climbing rope and had tied a piece onto a rock and let the rest hang over the edge an down to the next
level. I let my gear down in pieces, then lowered me down on their rope.!!! I repacked and started again. I ate lunch at 1:10
PM at 37-35-56.9N, 107-39-35.5W. I finally found some old trail trail at 1:43 PM, 37-36-01N, 107-39-33.7W.
Here at 1:49 PM, 37-36-03.2N, 10739-32.7W. Some trail at 2:02 PM, 37-36-09N, 107-39-33.7W. Here at 2 :12 PM,
37-36-13.8N, 107-39-30.2W.  Crossed Needle Creek at 2:15 PM, 37-36-16N,
107-39-31.3W. Reached trail 2:33 PM, 37-36-17.4N 107-39-32.8W. I dropped from 11, 313 ft to 9800 without a trail. Its now
10:12 PM. I am so glad to be off the mountain.  I'm going to bed.
Photo Slideshow
This is more than a website of photos, it is a place to
share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
information. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.
Tom Ballard Photography