We just returned from an incredible 5 day backpacking trip to the South San Juan Wilderness in SW Colorado. We arranged a shuttle and thru-hiked a section of it. The route we took is shown in the TOPO map below. We had a group of 10 backpackers, 6 of which were hangers.
We started out near Ellwood Pass, at around 11,600 ft elevation. The first day we had a relatively short hike of 4.5 miles over the Continental Divide and down to Crater Lake.
We camped at Crater Lake for two nights at just above 11K ft to let ourselves acclimate to high elevation and do some peak bagging and fishing. The weather was constantly changing and it rained frequently. The clouds drifting across the lake gave us some really nice scenery.
There was a good amount of hammock gear along on this trip. Five of us were using Warbonnet Blackbirds (DL 1.1, SL 1.7 and SL 1.0). One of us had a Clark NA, and one had the Parrot Bay hammock with integrated netting. Two people had Maccat deluxe silnylon tarps, Te-wa had a custom Maccat standard coyote brown tarp and Angelo had an early prototype of the HMG cuben tarp. I had my MLD cuben tarp along. Many of us had Te-wa 2/3 length UQ's along, one of us used a thermarest pad. There were a couple of Te-wa top quilts, a Warbonnet Mamba and I was using a Golite Ultra 20. Pretty much everyone had retrofitted to a whoopie sling style suspension.
Day 2 we did an out and back day hike to summit Montezuma peak at 13,150 ft elevation. We hiked back up to the Continental Divide and headed south to reach the approach point.
We were blown away by the expansive views up there. If you hiked over to a nearby peak it was possible to see all the way down to Crater Lake where we were camped at.
On day 3 we hiked south along the Continental Divide for around 12 miles and dropped down into a beautiful glacier carved valley called Adams Fork to camp for the night.
The trout fishing was just as fantastic as a previous time that we camped at this same spot. Beautiful native cutthroat trout seemingly coming out of nowhere from that shallow stream.
The 4th day we backpacked out of Adams Fork and up to the Continental Divide again, and went over to climb Summit peak, at 13,300 ft the highest point in Archuleta County.
We dropped our packs on the trail when we reached the approach point and climbed to the summit to experience more incredible views.
We then crossed over the Continental Divide and hiked down to Quartz Lake to camp for our 4th and final night.
On the 5th day we hiked out on the Little Blanco trail to our pickup point, and went into Pagosa Springs to celebrate and enjoy eating some food that was not boiled in a bag.
All in all, it was an amazing and memorable trip that I won't soon forget. There were several ground dwellers in our group that got a good look at hammock life and I suspect we'll have a couple of converts in the near future. I'll have a hard time topping this trip on my next big outing.
Here are a couple of Youtube videos that I uploaded that have some narrative of this trip.