La Plata Canyon Adventure

We started out Sunday morning with breakfast at Kennebec Restaurant, one of our faves, which rests at 8000 ft. at the entrance to La Plate Canyon. Afterwards we headed up the canyon, a place we hadn’t been in three years due to smoke from the fires, which now seem to be a regular summer time fixture in the west, and then last year, there was the influx of too many tourists escaping their confines in their cities, needing a taste of the outdoors. Couldn’t really blame them but, from all reports I got, they were overrunnung our mountain four wheel drive roads and there were even traffic jams in places. This year, now after Labor Day seemed a good time, and it was. Things had quieted down and there was the normal amount of four wheel drive vehicles and not that many ATVs as we remembered it.

So we ventured out the 16 miles up the canyon from 8000 ft. up to 11,600 ft. with the last four miles of gnarly steep, rocky slow going jeep road about two steps above the time when Olga Little ran her pack mule train carrying in supplies for the miners and hauling out silver ore some 100 years ago. It took close to 45 minutes in four wheel drive to navigate the last four miles of the 16 miles.

The view due north from the parking lot at the top of the road at 11,600 ft. Check out the little rain squall. The red in lower right is indictive of all the ferrite, or iron oxide, deposits prevalent in our mountains.
We did a 3/4 mile hike up to Kennebec Pass, to 11,800 ft. for the view to the northeast. Those are the Needles Range in the distance, about 40 miles away. On our hike we met one mountain biker whe was finishing his ride on the Colorado Trail which streatches through the mountains, 500 miles from Denver to Durango. He had 25 miles left and was pretty stoked to finish. We also met a young woman backpacker just heading out to Denver and two other backpackers having all but completed the trail and were heading to Durango.
Looking East from Kennebec Pass towards Durango.
More red cliffs from Iron Oxide that exists troughout The San Juan mountains.
Engineer Mountain, the bright one to the right center, a iconic well known 13,000 ft. peak with copious spring wildflowers on the plateau directly to the east of the base.
Looking to the sunnier south, less clouds and haze.

So, after delightful afternoon of high mountain beauty, we headed back down four miles of a steep, curvy, slippery rocky rough and otherwise nasty road, then thirty miles to home.

Sorry about the intermix of flush left and centered images and txr, but WordPress is priving to be stubborn.

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