Home is where we are parked

Home is where we are parked
Home is where we are parked

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

CO -- Silverton, 5-26 August 2016

Map picture
Map picture

Three weeks in Silverton, Colorado…

Why we came…

To explore the incredible San Juan Mountains around Silverton.

The campground…

We stayed at Silverton Lakes RV Resort.  There are two sections.  The main section is on the northeast edge of town.  It has spacious sites, cabins, and noisy off-road vehicle traffic through much of the day.  We stayed at the smaller section in town.  The sites were much tighter and unfortunately there was also noisy motorcycle, ATV, and Jeep traffic most of the day.  The sites felt even more cramped with everyone’s motorized toys scattered about.  Thankfully it was usually peaceful through the night.  We really liked the convenience of being in town and enjoyed our walks. 

Though there are some decent pull-through sites, ours was a back-in.  The pads were gravel and grass.  We had full hook-ups, decent wi-fi, and a good Verizon cell phone signal.  There were bathrooms that we didn’t use and very busy laundry facilities that we did use.  Apparently, the campground’s laundry was the only public laundry in Silverton.  Due to low temperatures in the 30s, we used quite a bit of propane.  The fine folks at Silverton LP Gas filled our 30lb bottles for just $15!

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We were fairly comfortable and enjoyed being in town

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The mountains got dusted with snow a couple of times during our stay

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People staging in the campground for their off-road adventure.

Nearby towns…

Silverton, population 638 and elevation 9,308 feet, sits in a beautiful high mountain box canyon surrounded by 13,000 foot high peaks.  The compact town is busy with tourists through much of the summer.  A few hundred tourists visit for just a couple of hours each day via the Durango and Silverton Train.  We were camped a few blocks from the train stop and enjoyed hearing the train whistle a few times each day. 

Silverton has a small Visitor Center, a museum, and many of the historical buildings date back to the mining days in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The little town has just one small grocery store, a gas station, and 30 restaurants.  Only the main road is paved.  The rest are fairly well maintained packed dirt and gravel.  It was a pleasure walking through town early and late when there were fewer folks milling about.

The Silverton area is very popular with off-road enthusiasts.  There are many miles of old mining roads to explore.  Thankfully for us, there are also miles of hiking trails that allowed us to appreciate peace, quiet, and wilderness.

Silverton sits in a spectacular box canyon surrounded by 13,000 foot high peaks

The two main supply towns are Montrose, 58 miles to the north, and Durango 48 miles to the south.  Each town has a big Walmart, multiple grocery stores, hardware stores, regional airports, hospitals, and many other services.  Both drives go over mountain passes around 11,000 feet high, are winding, steep, and have amazing views.  During summer, there are RVs, commercial trucks, motorcycles, and sight-seers that make the slow drive even slower.

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The 25 mile section of Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton is called the “Million Dollar Highway”.  It’s got an interesting history and is known for its scenery, tight curves, and sure-death drop-offs.  The two primary legends of its name are:  “it cost a million dollars a mile to build in the 1920s, and that its fill dirt contains a million dollars in gold ore”.


Trip to Albuquerque…

On move day, we set off early from Ouray and drove 25 miles over the soggy Million Dollar Highway without any problems. We arrived in Silverton around 10:00, checked into the campground,  and took an hour to hook up in a steady light rain.  After changing into warm dry clothes and eating some yummy leftovers for lunch, we left to attend a memorial service 265 miles away in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sadly, my Uncle Mike died a couple of months ago. The memorial service would be on his 58th birthday. He died of natural causes at far too young of an age. His death left a hole in many of our lives but also served as a reminder to check with family and friends about their health and wellbeing. Also, unfortunately, we cannot plan when we go and we should have our affairs, such as will and final wishes, in order to save our loved ones unnecessary grief.

Most of my family would join us in Albuquerque to comfort my grandmother who would have to bury her son. Although it was an unhappy affair, it was so good to have most of my family there to celebrate Uncle Mike’s life.

We had one good adventure while there. My sister, Nic, and stepsister, Kim, have been caught up in the Pokemon Go craze. Even though they both lived in Albuquerque for a number of years, neither of them had climbed “U” mountain. In high school I enjoyed climbing the east side hill and exploring its many trails.

We met the sisters early in the morning for some exercise up “U” and for them to “capture” some Poks. Arleen and I had to keep prodding them along as they spent more time staring at their phones then the trail. About half way up the trail, we captured sight of a real life creature. A four foot long Diamondback rattle snake had stretched out across the trail bathing in the early morning rays. We all “captured” it with our cameras, keeping a respectful distance, and then headed for the summit.

After a fairly challenging rock scramble, we reached the top of “U” and enjoyed an awesome view of Albuquerque. We hammed it up for a few photos, and then hurried back to join the rest of the family for the memorial service.

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My sister and step-sister have joined the “Pokemon Go” craze

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This 4 foot long rattlesnake slowly slithered across the trail.  I have spent a lot of time exploring this area and it’s the first rattlesnake I have seen!

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The final stretch is a steep, but fun scramble  /  We conquered “U Mountain”!

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My cousins and Grandma in 1991 or so  /  Cousins and Grandma in August 2016

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Memorial dinner for my Uncle Mike

Exploring Silverton…

Silverton has an interesting and colorful history. We learned quite a bit about the mining olden days by stopping at the Visitor Center and just wandering up and down the “notorious” Blair Street.

The “Old Tyme Photo” studio was the town’s first bordello back in 1878. “At its peak, Blair Street housed some 40 bordellos, saloons, and boarding houses… At night the uproar of music, gambling, and drinking was horrendous.”

Now the streets are crowded all afternoon with tourists that are emptied from the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad three times a day (during peak season). The day we went to lunch downtown, we made sure we went before 1130L, the time the first train arrived.

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Silverton in the 1880s and around 1900

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Entering Silverton  /  We received mail at this post office

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A section of “Notorious Blair Street”  /  The bordello discussed is now the Olde Time Photography in the left picture.

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More interesting history along “Notorious Blair Street”

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More old buildings in Silverton

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There were old vehicles scattered all over Silverton like lawn furniture  /  Area railroad history

Silverton train

Durango and Silverton Train in Silverton (Picture barrowed from this link)

The “Hardrockers Holidays”…

Hardrocker Holidays is, “An annual celebration and competition of traditional hard rock mining - family fun for over 30 years...” The events are held over a weekend at the Kendall Mountain Recreation Area which was only a few blocks from us.

We walked over on a Saturday morning to watch the wheelbarrow race & tug-of-war competitions. In the first race the competitors had to run an obstacle course while loading and unloading heavy balls from on old, rusted, all steel wheelbarrow.

The tug-of-war was up on a platform. For both the lightweight men and women’s competitions, there was a stalemate for several minutes before there was any movement.

The miner athletes were from several communities around the Four Corners region and very serious about the events. We also sensed a lot of camaraderie among the participants and the audience.

We really wanted to see the heavy weight tug-of-war, drilling/ jacking, and hand mucking events but we had a mushroom culinary extravaganza to get to.

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Checking out the Hardrockers Holidays in Silverton  /  Wheelbarrow race

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The guys doing tug-o-war  /  The ladies doing tug-o-war

On 9 August we hiked the Lime Creek trail…

Lime Creek looked like a pleasant hike.  I spotted small trout in the clear creek right away and nearly went back for my fishing gear, but we pressed on.  It looked good for our treasured edible mushrooms, but we didn’t bring any home. We lingered at some pretty waterfalls and spotted some nice size cutthroat. We also saw several piles of bear scat. We kept the bear spray at the ready!  Clouds grew rapidly and darkened as we headed back.  About a half mile from the truck, the first BOOM rumbled from a nearby peak.  It was definitely “go time”!

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Hike route up Lime Creek  /  We spotted a few trout in the stream

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Two of the pretty waterfalls near the trail  /  Uh Oh…I heard thunder.  It’s “go time!”

On 12 August we hiked to Crater Lake…

After several days of mushrooming, it was time for a break. We headed out to hike to Crater Lake. If we were lucky, we would fish and find a few mushrooms.

We parked at the trailhead at Andrews Lake, which is just south of Molas Pass on Hwy 550, eight miles south of Silverton. When we arrived early in the morning, there was only one other vehicle in the parking area.

The first mile of the trail was like a “highway”. It was flat, packed dirt route up a slight incline. We started out at a brisk four miles per hour pace thinking we’d be there in a few hours. However, the last four and a half miles were muddy, slick, and rocky. Thankfully, it was never too steep. It tended to undulate up and over rolling hills and ridge lines.

After three hours, we arrived at the pretty lake. I immediately moved to the southeast shore where I could see fish cruising. Within the first fifteen minutes, I had landed two thick-bodied 15-17” brook trout and had three others on. It was so fun to watch the fish come up through the clear water and sip my spruce moth dry fly. Then, poof, all they disappeared.

Another couple had been spin fishing for a few hours. After they saw my immediate success, they made their way around the shore to get some advice. They were thankful for the suggestions.

Since the fish needed a nap, I joined Arleen for a quick half mile scramble up to the pass. From here, we received quite the treat of a view of the central San Juan Mountains. We thought we might get a glimpse of the railroad tracks and the Animas River from up there, but it was just too steep to see the valley floor 3,000 feet below.

As is the case on most Colorado trails on a nice Friday afternoon, we met several backpackers on the trail that were headed up to the lake for the weekend. Among them, were a pack of boy scouts who were very excited to get a fishing report.

We dodged into the woods from time to time and saw a few mushrooms, including amanitas and agaricus but not our target shrooms. We enjoyed brief views of the Durango Ski area just 8 miles to the southwest.

The 12.6 mile hike wasn’t challenging, but felt long and wore us out. When we arrived back at the parking area, it was completely full including a horse trailer.

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Hike route to Crater Lake

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This marmot posed for us  /  Our first time in the Weminuche Wilderness  /  Mommy grouse with a youngin

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Climbing higher into the San Juan Mountains

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We could see Purgatory Ski Resort to the southwest

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Looking east from the saddle above Crater Lake at 11,775 feet.  The Animas River is 3,000 feet below, but we couldn’t see it.

Crater Lake

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Fly-fishing the calm, clear alpine lake

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I caught healthy and strong 13-16 inch long brook trout on grasshopper flies  /  Queen’s Crown flowers

On 21 August we hiked to Ice Lake and Fuller Lake…

Every hiker we talked to and every hiking handbook we read, rated the Ice Lake hike as one of the best in the Colorado Rockies. Our goal was to make it to Fuller Lake and to hopefully catch a few high country trout. My internet research wasn’t conclusive about the trout, but I was optimistic.

We parked at the Ice Lakes Trailhead near the popular South Mineral Campground by 0730L. The four and a half mile hike to Fuller Lake starts in thick mixed forest. The trail immediately pitched up and followed switchbacks for the first mile and a half.

We then popped out into the lower basin, surrounded by nearly vertical rock cliffs and mountain peaks. The way ahead looked ominous! There were only remnants of the summer wild flowers but the “winter barometer” fireweed was out in full show. In Alaska, we said that once the fire weed was done, the snow would fly.

After crossing the bowl, we started the steep rocky section that climbed to Ice Lake. As soon as we finished the difficult mile long section with 800 feet of climbing, we got our first jaw dropping view of Ice Lake!

Ice Lake is a sapphire blue lake with a picturesque outlet stream tumbling over boulders and rocks. The clear stream deposits the minerals from the mountains above turning the rocks chalky white. We took a break up on a hill above the lake, and peered into the incredible clear blue water in amazement.

After the break, I headed up to Fuller Lake. Arleen could not tear herself away and hung back to take more pictures. The hike up to Fuller is about another mile with just 300 feet of climbing. On the way up the view of Ice Lake only gets better with as Fuller Peak (13,761-ft.), Vermillion Peak (13,894-ft.), Golden Horn (13,780-ft.) Pilot Knob (13,738-ft.) and Ulysses S. Grant Peak (13,767-ft.) form a curtain from the southwest to the north.

I bypassed a shallow unnamed pond on the way up. I noted that a few fish were rising in the small pond. This was something to check out on the way back! I also noted that fields of multi-colored paintbrush were still blooming at this elevation, 12,600 feet. I enjoyed watching a marmot add to its food stash amongst the pretty flowers.

I reached Fuller Lake completing the 3,250 foot climb. Though not overwhelmingly beautiful like Ice Lake, it was still pretty and sat in cirque back dropped by impressive Fuller and Vermillion Peaks. The only thing that marred the scene was an old metal-sheeted mining building. Many pieces of the sheeting had blown off and were littered all over the area including at the bottom of the clear lake.

I could see fish rising everywhere! My optimism was spot on! I immediately started getting hits and landed rare Colorado Green Back cutthroat. They were small, mostly six to ten inches long, but smacked my dry flies, fought well, and were very pretty. Arleen soon joined me and took a turn with the rod and caught her share. Between us we caught 10-15 and missed just as many in a short period. An ominous dark cloud was growing to the south so we wanted to get below timberline.

On the way down, we stopped at the pond. Just as I suspected, I immediately got a few hits. They too, were cutthroat, but a little different colored; more golden with fewer spots. It made me wonder about their original stock…

The views of Twin Sisters rising to the south across the valley were incredible on our way down. All around us the clouds were building, darkening and looked more threatening. It was “go time”! We hurried down and passed many people (some who were not “hikers”).

However, we did take the time when winding down the final switchbacks to take a detour to a pretty overlook to watch Clear Creek tumble down about 200 feet. The falls were a perfect ending to a great day of hiking.

At trails end, we saw that the parking lot was full and cars were parked along the road. Arleen counted 90 hikers that had registered. Not everyone registers so at least 100 hikers hit the trail to the highly reputed and scenic lake.

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Hike route to Ice and Fuller Lakes  /  Signing the trail register.  Nearly a hundred people signed the register that day!

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Just a couple of miles up the trail and we already climbed 1,500ft  /  The little chipmunks are often entertaining

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We are going up there!  In the lower basin and headed to the upper basin  /  Midway between the two basins

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We popped over the ridge, entered the upper basin, and were blown away by the flowers  /  Arleen  standing at the edge of the upper basin

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Ice Creek flows clear but leaves the rocks chalky out of the amazingly blue Ice Lake

Ice Lake viewed from the north

Ice Lake viewed from the south

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Above Ice Lake and headed up to Fuller Lake

Fly-fishing Fuller Lake

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Missed that one! 

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We caught at least 10, 5-12 inch long cutthroat trout and missed as many more.  It was fun fishing!

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Fishing the small pond just below Fuller Lake.  Caught 5 or 6 similar cutthroat trout.

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This is just a small section of a pretty waterfall that stair-steps down about 200 feet  /  No more room in the parking area.  The trail is very popular.

On 24 August we hiked to the Highland Mary and Verde Lakes…

A few people had recommended that we hike to Highland Mary and Verde Lakes. My research showed that brook trout were in the Verde Lakes, and spotty in the Highland Mary Lakes. I planned a loop route that included a little free style, cross country navigation that would pass seven lakes. Arleen always cringes when I say off trail unless we are mushroom hunting!

We drove up County Roads 4 and 2 out of Silverton to the Highland Mary Trailhead. The last part of the road was a little rough but we did fine in our big truck.

We made note of a sign at the trail head that warned of sheep grazing in the area and their guardian dogs. We’d seen these signs in the past, but never saw the sheep or dogs.

The seven mile, seven lake loop hike pitched up quickly and had a few tricky rocky sections. It was hard to keep an eye on the trail because our eyes were drawn to the views of mountain scenery with dissipating stratus clouds and a dusting of new snow.

At about the two mile point we had to cross a huge boulder field which Arleen hates. The footing is very tricky and it is so easy to twist an ankle, or even break a leg. She took her time and made it without an issue. I promised her we would take different route back.

After climbing about 1,500 feet we reached the first shallow lake at 12,000 feet, which we walked quickly by. We paused for a moment at the first pretty Highland Mary Lake that was back dropped by the Grenadier Range in their layer of white “termination dust”. In addition, some of the rolling tundra plants were sporting fall colors. Along the slopes to the east, far above the lake, we saw and heard a huge flock of sheep…very cool!

We continued on the rolling trail across the open tundra and joined briefly with the Continental Divide Trail. Lower Verde Lake came into view below. The water was calm making it easy to spot feeding trout all over the lake. I knew that I was in for a treat!

While I dropped straight down to the lake, Arleen went up another hundred feet to capture images of the huge landscape with White Dome and Hunchback Mountain looming in the background.

I eagerly strung up my fly rod and wolfed down a few snacks. Then I spotted a trout cruising left to right about 30 feet out and gently dropped my small grasshopper fly 10 feet in front of it. Sure enough, the little but colorful brook trout accelerated and smacked my fly! After a short and spirited fight, I admired the little guy and then watched it swim quickly away…very nice. This happened quite a few times over the next hour or so. The colorful brook trout were 5-12 inches long. I caught as many as I missed. I had the pretty lake and good fishing all to myself and had a great time!

Next we moved onto upper Verde Lake. From here we could see Trinity and Electric Peak dominating the horizon to the south. I walked to the opposite side of the smaller lake and took up position on big rocks about 10 feet above the water. It was easy to spot the trout. There weren’t as many, but they were slightly larger. Again, I gently dropped my small grasshopper fly in the path of a trout and watched my fly disappear in a splashy attack. The action was so vivid from my elevated position that I struggled to give the trout enough time to inhale my fly. That’s alright, I had a great time!

Now it was time to “freestyle” across the open terrain. We left the trail and easily climbed over the tundra to a smaller Mary lake. I stayed above the small lake and watched the water carefully for trout activity. There was none so we moved on.

Then we traversed a small ridge and dropped to the next Mary lake. Now we clearly saw and heard that the flock of sheep were pouring over the hills along the north side of the small lake and making their way higher. The hundreds of white specks moved as one fluid wave, only broken by the occasional black sheep and the shenanigans of youngsters. But we were looking for their guardians; the temperamental Great Pyrenees. We didn’t see them and it made us wonder where the sheep’s protectors were and where the flock was headed.

The day was getting late so we started to head back. We rejoined our original trail and headed down the trail past the first few Mary Lakes. I stopped briefly at the second largest lake and made a few casts. I saw no signs of fish but enjoyed the view and watched the sheep get smaller and smaller as they continued their route higher route up the ridge.

We descended the steep rocky sections of trail slowly and paused to check out a few scenic waterfalls on the way down. It was a good adventure!

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Hike route to Highland Mary and Verde Lakes  /  A bee fills on pollen from Queen’s Crown growing at 12,000 feet

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In spite of the these toilet paper signs at every trailhead, we see way too much of it along trails…GROSS & SAD!  /  We have seen the sheep grazing signs, but have never seen the sheep or dogs.  /  Entering the wilderness area again.  Foot and horse traffic only!

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A dusting of snow coated the higher peaks and fog lingered down the valley…it was very pretty!

Posing above Highland Mary Lakes

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About to descend to the lower Verde Lake

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Fly-fishing lower Verde Lake  /  Caught 5 or 6 brook trout 4-12 inches long on grasshopper flies and missed that many more

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Fly-fishing upper Verde Lake.  The brook trout were slightly bigger.

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About to descend to one of the upper Highland Mary Lakes

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There are the sheep!  There were hundreds of them.  We didn’t see the dogs.  Nor did we see any trout.

Stopped to fly-fish the lower Highland Mary Lake on the way down.  Didn’t see any trout.

Southern Rocky Mountain wild mushroom season…


Fun Fungal Fact: “Bring home a wild mushroom for dinner, and watch the faces of your friends crawl with various combinations of fear, anxiety, loathing and distrust! There are few things that strike as much fear in your average American as the mere mention of wild mushrooms… Of several thousand different kinds of mushrooms in North America, only five or six are deadly poisonous! Once you know what to look for it’s about as easy to tell a deadly Amanita from a savory chanterelle as it is a lima bean from an artichoke.”

Mushroom hunting is always an adventure. As our neighbor in the campground correctly said, “There are three highs in Colorado; elevation, wacky tobacky, and mushrooms.” We always stress that we leave the hallucinogenic mushrooms alone. We know what they look like but there is a fine line between being dead and being high.  Plus, our reality is fantastic just the way it is!

Arleen can struggle all summer long with moderate to strenuous trails. But when she senses fresh mushrooms, she can spring over downed logs, sprint up steep rocky ridges, and wade willow clogged bogs. All this, so she can find a few little golden chanterelles!

In the southern Rockies, during late summer and early fall, we always look forward to mushroom hunting. Not only do we like the delicious, nutritious edibles, but it is an exciting treasure hunt. We have been finding and eating wild mushrooms for five years now and have many theories for ideal conditions in the southern Rockies. Two of the primary rules:  1. Hunt in spruce and fir forests between nine and twelve thousand feet. 2.  The initial fruiting starts about two weeks after the first two inches of summer monsoonal precipitation.

Routes, pictures, and a couple of stories…

When we arrived in Silverton, conditions were perfect and we spent about 12 days in the woods walking over 45 miles and climbing about 14,000 feet to collect many pounds of King Bolete (Boletus edulis), hawk wings (Sarcodon imbricatus), and chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius ) mushrooms.

What do we do with all of these mushrooms? Arleen prepares such dishes as Tipsy Hawk Wings Chicken (gin), and Chanterelles and Pears with Turkey Thighs while I make my stand by, Wild Mushroom Stroganoff. Still, we cannot eat all that we collect. So we dehydrate the boletes and hawk wings and add them to meals throughout the winter. Arleen freezes the extra chanterelles for later use in Hungarian Mushroom Soup…so yummy!

One day, after parking the truck, I ducked into the woods to relieve myself before we started the hunt. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness among the dense trees, I realized I was peeing on a couple of perfect hawk wings! I was horrified and excited at the same time and yelled for Arleen as I zipped up. We found a few pounds of hawk wings under the cover of those trees but obviously left the soiled ones.

On several occasions we arrived back at the truck just as it started to rain. Fortunately, in some higher areas of our favorite patch, we could get a cell phone signal and update weather radar. However, on one occasion, we took cover under a group of short trees as hail stung us and thunder shook the valley.

Another time, we had a patch we were trying to get to as the thunder approached, but we pushed on. As we collected a few pounds of porcinis, we donned our rain gear and were soaked and chilled by a heavy rain shower.  The perfect, wormless, dozen or so King Boletes made it all worth it!

Silverton-11-25 Aug-shroom routes

Nine shroom hunting routes totaling ~34.1 miles and ~10,150 feet of climbing!  Note:  a few routes are missing.

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Keeping an eye on the threatening clouds  /  We found the first chanterelle on 8 Aug  /  Taking cover from a thunderstorm and hail

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Fireweed blooming near Molas Lake

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An old mine and a closed mine entrance near Red Mountain Pass

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A large boulder field near Red Mountain Pass

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Yummy chanterelles and our first hawkwings on 13 Aug

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Nice afternoon view near Molas Pass

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High above the Molas Lakes

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We found our first king boletus (aka Porcini) on 14 Aug

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We see cool things while mushroom hunting  /  A foray along the Colorado Trail  /  Trays of hawkwings ready for dehydration.  We’ll eat them sometime this winter.

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Sneaking up on a king boletus.  They are often hard to spot.

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A nearly perfect bolete button  /  The scenery is beautiful  /  Hawkwings, chanterelles, and porcinis…a great day!

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Thunderstorms will bring more mushrooms!  /  One of our favorite sites:  a fresh porcini tucked under a young tree.  We found a bunch on 25 Aug…our last hunt in the Silverton area

Project Skywater…

During one of our forays, we found a small shack with the following notice, “PROPERTY OF AMERICAN TAXPAYERS. Department of the Interior. Bureau of Reclamation. PROJECT SKYWATER”. Inside the small, dark, dilapidated building was a bench, a chair, and an old fireplace.

We did research when we got home. We found out that Project Skywater was a cloud seeding program. As weather forecasters, our interest was piqued and we eagerly read the 30 page report.

“In 1961 Congress allocated funding for the creation of a weather modification program headed by the Bureau of Reclamation… Reclamation concentrated studies and testing in the western states, principally in the upper Colorado River basin… for the purposes of managing and mining water resources... Never well funded, the program had a decidedly mixed cost-benefit, environmental, and operational record that never convincingly supported a sound basis for a national, extensively funded weather modification program”.

We are always amazed at what we learn during our adventures. Because this was completely unexpected and in line with our meteorological backgrounds and interests, it was special!

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We stumbled onto this old shack while mushroom hunting.  Research on “Project Skywater” was very interesting!

The Purgatory Mushroom and Wine Festival

My cousin Heather informed us about the Purgatory Mushroom & Wine Festival. It is a celebration of the abundance of wild mushrooms in the forested area above the resort, “with guided mushroom hunts and a culinary showcase of Durango’s finest restaurants”.  Purgatory is a ski resort located between Silverton and Durango.

The Culinary Extravaganza sounded perfect for us. “In the afternoon, five of Durango’s finest restaurants will share their favorite mushroom-inspired dishes!  Each dish includes a wine pairing personally selected by the chef.  The event also includes live music from The Assortment and cooking demonstrations from our guest chefs.  This is an afternoon that your taste buds won’t soon forget!”

And they were right! We fondly remember the Eolus’s Chanterelle Corn Puff, Ore House’s Wild Mushroom Beef Tenderloin Barley Stew, and Purgy’s Lamb Riblet and Candy Cap Bread Pudding. Since I don’t drink, Arleen sampled the wine pairings but she only made it through three of the six.

We attended the memorable cooking demonstration by Chef Sergio A Verduzco, owner of East by Southwest, a highly rated fusion restaurant in Durango. Arleen enjoyed learning the tips he shared about preparation of the mushrooms and spices. He prepared a dish of shitake mushrooms which smelled wonderful as he stir fried them. He also shared with Arleen a good way to preserve chanterelle mushrooms. Since we love Sushi, we will visit Sergio’s restaurant in the future.

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The event was in the big tent at Purgatory Resort

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A mycologist identifies mushrooms gathered by event participants  /  Mushroom inspired dishes paired with good wine

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Durango Chef Sergio Verduzco shares some cooking tips  /  We sampled all seven of the yummy mushroom dishes, but Arleen was only able to handle 6 of the 12 wine samples.  (I don’t drink.)


We are wrapping up our Colorado Rocky Mountain summer with five weeks in Pagosa Springs CO.  Then we will visit Navajo State Park NM and eventually Zion National Park UT with possible stops in Monument Valley AZ, Page AZ, and Lees Ferry AZ along the way.

Parting shots…

Silverton10-9 Aug 2016    Silverton68-16 Aug 2016

Signs along the highway warn of possible unexploded ordinance used during winter for avalanche control  /  This big moose was feasting on moss in a pond near the highway just north of Silverton

Silverton152-25 Aug 2016    Silverton111-21 Aug 2016

This beautiful hawk was perched in a tree and then flew right at us  /  A marmot in a field of paintbrush flowers near Fuller Lake