Colorado's Chicago Basin
Day 142: Chicago Basin, CO > Durango, CO
We woke up to a rainy morning – glad we had made the decision to come down the trail. It was undoubtedly snowing up at the Basin where we left Austin last night, and we hoped the best for his summit attempt of Eolus this morning. We packed up, and started off on the 3 remaining miles of our trek. Halfway, John caught a cold and for a minute, I didn’t think we would make our 11:15 train. We did, and we stumbled on to our ride to civilization. The train took us to Silverton first, where we hopped off for lunch at Handlebars. After a bison burger and bloody mary, we went to have a few brews at the brewery in town. The train whistle blew, and we got back on towards Durango. We watched as the beautiful forest weaved by our tired eyes, and were grateful for a few days of solitude in nature. Back in town, we cleaned up and went to Ska Brewing for dinner. We ate pizza, but I could barely stay awake – finally feeling the exhaustion. We tried to watch the second presidential debate on John’s phone, but could muster neither the energy nor the electricity to make it through…Click here to Read More of our vanlife diary
Day 140: Durango, CO > Chicago Basin
Woke up to a rainy morning. The sound of the drops on our skylight made it tough to get up, but we packed our bags and set off in the morning mist towards the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railway. The whistle blew and the wheels clacked just as the clock struck 8:45. All Aboard! We sat in the Gondola open air car and bundled up as we climbed through the canyon. We sat next to a couple of newlyweds who made the ride go by quickly. I tried my best to sew the holes in my boots, but my needle was too thin. Stepping out of that train into the forest at Needleton, I was nervous about the cold & wet that awaited us up on the mountain. We waved goodbye to the tourists going up to Silverton and got on the trail. The only fellow hiker that got off the train with us was a solo hiker named Austin, and we chatted with him the whole 6 miles up to the Chicago Basin. Austin plans to climb all the Colorado 14,000ft peaks, and this trip he would check off 3 more – Sunlight, Windom & Eolus. What a great friend to have on the trail. We climbed a few thousand feet above the yellow aspen trees & arrived to Chicago Basin late afternoon. We said goodbye to Austin who wanted to solo camp further back in the basin, but made plans to meet back up in the morning to climb together. John & I set up camp and at a quick dinner before our fingers started to freeze and we huddled together in the van for an early night. We bundled in down jackets & fleece liners, but still felt cold to our bones.
Day 141: Chicago Basin, CO
We woke up to a layer of frost covering everything. It took a while to coax our bodies into motion, but we slowly made breakfast and got ready for the objective ahead. Austin came over right at 8:00AM & we hit the trail soon after. Careful of ice beneath our feet, we ascended the first two miles to Twin Lake. Soon, ice turned to snow and then snow turned to rock as the grade got steeper and we pushed towards the summit. The last quarter mile we dropped our poles and packs and scrambled up to the top. My heart started to race as altitude mixed with fear fought my drive to reach the peak. We made it to the spine and were treated to magnificent views of the wilderness that surrounded us. Victorious, we descended through snow flurries back to camp. We saw a pine martin scamper caught marmot in his mouth. The corn chowder & mashed potatoes. I ate were incredibly delicious after a hard day’s hike. John and I decided to pack up camp & sleep down the trail where it promised to be warmer at the lower elevation. We slept joyfully and finally discovered (after 141 days on the road) that our sleeping bags zip together. We cuddled and were warm.
Day 143: Durango, CO
Another Wednesday, another work day. This one was spent at Durango Joe’s which had a college town vibe & breakfast burritos. We stayed there most of the day until 5:00PM when we left to go meet Austin who had summited all three peaks and was back in civilization too. We met him at the Barbershop speakeasy where one side of a true barbershop opened up to reveal a cozy, dimly lit room. We had a couple delicious craft cocktails there. Then, we went down main street for some dinner. Austin treated us to chicken nachos, filet mignon sliders, bacon wrapped dates & martinis. Not wanting the night to end, we continued on a pool hall dive bar for a few last beers. We said our goodbyes to Austin – happy to have great new friend. We slept on the streets of Durango.