View Full Version : South San Juan trip - pics

07-26-2006, 02:55 AM
Here are some pictures of the last backpack trip I took with a friend.
We have been wanting to do this for about 5 years now. John thinks it
will be his last trip into this area. The last time he was here was about
15 years ago. Start elevation was 10,160 ft.

John leaving the trailhead with a 40# pack.
Bill at the trailhead trying to suck it up with a 55 lb. pack.
Entering the South San Juan Wilderness Area.
Nearing Three Forks. So far the climb has been easy. A thunderstorm threatens behind.
John crossing the Conejos River.
A nice shot of the El Rito Azul. The tough part part of the climb begins.
Breaking into the open.
First glimpse of Blue Lake.

More to come.

07-26-2006, 03:03 AM
Blue Lake was where we set up our base camp. The altitude there was 11,520. High temps were
into the high seventies. Afternoon thunderstorms.

View of Conejos Peak from the Continental Divide.
Waterfall on the Middle Fork of the Conejos River.
Navajo canon overlook.
Standing on the continental divide. We saw a herd of about 20 elk in the meadows on the hills
to the left in the back ground. One monster bull. One 5-pointer and a spike in the bunch.
We also had some bugles and cow mews below us in the dark timber.
John displaying a nice brookie.
Bill on the Continintal Divide.
Brookies taken out of the El Rito Azul.
Hot action near dusk.

07-26-2006, 03:04 AM
Possibly John's last time at Blue Lake.
Yours truly, Blue lake.
Last Blue Lake glimpse.
Bill, whipped.
John, ready to go again.
Last image of Conejos peak.

07-26-2006, 04:03 AM
AAAAHHHHH, beeyoutiefullll........

07-26-2006, 06:20 AM

This is the exact trip I've been wanting for some time. Next year for sure. I have seen this country by reading some great stories and seeing it in my mind's eye. Beautiful.

Near Blue Lake is where Ed Wiseman killed the last confirmed grizzly in Colorado back in 1979, and nearly got killed himself in the process. What great country!

Thanks for the report and photos!!!

07-28-2006, 09:14 AM
Hello Hoogster:

Thanks for sharing the pictures to the South San Juans with us. I was born and grew in that neck of the woods and spent a lot of time in the South San Juans area prior and post wilderness designation and just for a little trivia interest the picture you took at the head of the Navajo river is not far at all from where Wiseman had the Grizzly encounter back on Sept. 23 1979……anyway neat country with a lot of interesting history not bad fishing either

07-28-2006, 01:28 PM
Just to educate us Northern folk, what's the story of the Grizzly encounter? Would be interested to hear it.


07-28-2006, 03:18 PM

Check out David Petersen's fine book, Ghost Grizzlies. You will really enjoy it. Most local libraries have a copy.


From 1948 to 1952 about 8 grizzlies were killed in Colorado. Two were killed in the San Juan Mountains in 1951. After 1952 no grizzlies were reported killed until the last known grizzly in Colorado was killed in 1979. This was a 16-year old female with placental scars indicating she had borne some cubs during her lifetime; thus there was a male grizzly recently alive, and perhaps some of her offspring (Murray 1992, page 237, 238). She was killed in the headwaters of the Navajo River in the San Juan National Forest near Blue Lake (Brown 1985). Since 1980 there have been reports of grizzly sightings or activity in the San Juan Mountains and there is a good possibility that some are still alive although it is extremely unlikely that they can persist much longer unless humans assist them.
Most grizzlies in Colorado were found in mountainous country or along riparian areas (Armstrong 1972). Early records from the plains were also from riparian areas (Brown 1985)

The Rio Grande-San Juan Grizzly Bear Management Area was created in 1954; it was dissolved in 1964. In 1976 the Colorado Division of Wildlife recommended the restoration of grizzlies to the San Juans.

07-29-2006, 04:57 AM
You were truly blessed to live in that part of the state. I believe it's some of the most beautiful country I've ever had the chance to wander through. As a side note, it was a shame to see the condition of the Alamosa River.
I may try to go again next year, but take the trip from three forks trailhead to the elk creek trailhead.

07-29-2006, 09:36 AM
Great pictures! Thank you for sharing.

Here's to all of ya making it back in there a few more times!

07-31-2006, 07:42 AM

I do feel very fortundate to have grown up in that area. As for the Alamosa River and the turbidity I am not sure when it started running that color but I do know it has running that color, or variations of color and turbidity, for as long as I can remember i.e. the late 50’s

07-31-2006, 08:24 AM
Beautiful pics. The South San Juan has been on my life list for some time now.

07-31-2006, 02:52 PM
Spectacular country!

Woods Walker
07-31-2006, 06:09 PM
Looks like a great time but I am going to start a suport group for the poor brookies. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

08-05-2006, 03:50 PM
It was a great trip. Those brookies sure were tasty. Those darned 16 striped tree rats got into my food supply on the second day. I had it hung in a tree, but I didn't cinch the bag tight enough. They vandalized my trail mix. So the brookies in the creek had to pay the price the next day. I couldn't catch the ones in the lake as they were very finicky. Only flies seemed to work on em. I cut it close on food this time. I usually take too much. One of the best items I brought was a headnet($1.50) to keep the mosquitioes from buzzing to close. The tipi was nice. Don't think I needed the large stove, however, I wanted to make sure I could pack the whole enchilada for hunting season.