Chicago Basin

Hiking distance from the Train to the Chicago Basin:  4.5 miles.  Not bad, huh?  No big deal.  Most anyone can walk 4+ miles in an afternoon at a slow pace, right?

Oops, I forgot a few pertinent details:  Elevation increase of 2,500ft (to 10,800ft above sea level); 50lb. pack; rain; pouring rain; hail; pouring rain again; more hail; pouring rain; 3rd round of hail;  downpour and hail again!  6 hours of hiking with fully loaded, wet packs, and we were still 1.3 miles short of our destination.  That’s right … 6 hours, and we had only covered 3.2 miles!

The rain and hail were overwhelming.  And along with them came cold body temperatures as our sweat and rain soaked bodies felt the mountain temperature descend to the 50’s.   We were wet and whipped.  The final straw that broke the camel’s back was that a trickle of a stream across the trail had become a roaring lion.  We could not get across, so we setup camp short of our destination.  It was a relief, to be honest.  Jerry, Betsy, and I were safely tucked into our tents by 7pm, and we didn’t come out until 6am the following morning.  Forget food.  We only cared about 3 things:  Getting warm, dry, and rested!

Upon talking to several experienced hikers the following morning, this was the worst mountain storm any of them had been caught in.  And, while the hail did not accumulate much at our stopping point, the Chicago Basin area we were destined for only 1.3 miles ahead had 5 inches of accumulated hail.

The weather and trail cleared on Tuesday morning, so we repacked and forged on after breakfast.  We arrived at the Chicago Basin well before noon, emerging from the prior 4.5 miles of wooded trails into a wonderfully large meadow protected by mountain peaks in all directions.

Single Track Trail Leading into the Chicago Basin

This entry was written by Mark , posted on Tuesday August 23 2011at 09:08 pm , filed under Backpacking, Colorado, Landscapes . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “Chicago Basin”

  • Carl Gandolfo says:

    That is SO cool!! I remember you telling me that story when you returned to Durango. As bad as that weather experience sounded, I would have still been there in a heartbeat!! Very nice B&W treatment on that image……love how the trail leads the eye into the valley!!

  • Brent Johnston says:

    Great description! I shivered! Can’t wait to read more.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.