From Train to Trail

Train Conductor and Boilerman

Conductor and Boilerman Watch Backpackers Unload at Needleton Trailhead

The train ride was a fun experience.  One of the things that impressed me was the personnel operating the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge (D&SNG).  These guys were the “real deal”.  One often finds new technology underneath the covers and behind the facade of today’s replication of the retro.  Not in this case.  This was THE steam engine and train of years gone by, not a replica.

Checkout the Conductor and Boilerman in these images, and tell me they don’t look authentic to the first of the century!  Hats, overalls, gritty faces, callused hands, coal stained denim and skin, broad shoulders, Paul Bunyan-esque boots  …  They were both impressive and professional.  The Conductor handled every backpack personally, loading it into and out of the cargo car.  The Boilerman ensured the engine operated flawlessly, and at the stops he looked over everything closely from rails to cars to the locomotive.  And trust me, we could afford no slip-ups on the ride because the rail bed ran literally on the very edge of 1,000+ ft. cliffs.

I could not help but translate these images into B&W.  The textures and implied time frame would allow no alternative.

This is the point at which we exited the train.  As you can see, there were many backpackers unloading at the Needleton trail head.  The Conductor told us about 60 packs were loaded for this trip, and 50+ the day before.  And as a matter of fact, there is a sign at the trailhead which mentions that 100,000 backpackers enter this trail yearly.  Some take on extensive camping and challenge the (3) 14’ers in the area, while others work their way along a portion of the trail for a day hike.  Jerry, Betsy, and I were simply amazed at how few people we saw during the 5 days we were along the trail and in the basin!  I venture to say we only saw 20 people or so, in spite of the numbers entering the trail each day.

This is where the Vibram soles meet the dirt!  The beginning of 5 days of backpacking and camping with no cell phones, transportation, or contact with anyone except those we would see along the trail.  We are at approximately 8,500 ft., and in about 4.5 miles we’ll be near 11,000 ft.  As for the train …. it would be on it’s way momentarily.  This is Monday, and we have a date to rendezvous with it on Friday at 4pm.

This entry was written by Mark , posted on Sunday August 21 2011at 04:08 pm , filed under Backpacking, Colorado, Landscapes, People . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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