Peak(s):  Vermilion Pk  -  13,894 feet
Windom Peak  -  14,087 feet
Aztec Mtn  -  13,310 feet
Overlook Point - 12998
Kennedy, Mt  -  13,125 feet
Date Posted:  08/22/2013
Modified:  08/23/2013
Date Climbed:   07/05/2013
Author:  chinookhead
 An out of shape asthmatic climbing and fishing the San Juans (Video)  

The following is my July Colorado adventure. I am a teacher in Texas, so I am privileged with a summer in which I can play......and play I did.

Week One"I did a warm up hike to the Blue Lakes. The altitude got to me a bit (heavy breathing) because I only took one night to acclimate after the big drive from Texas. The lakes look amazing, but they seem to be hit pretty hard. Therefore, the fish are very smart and picky. However, I always managed to catch a meal when this was my goal.


Week Two"If you want solitude and constantly amazing views, this is the hike for you. I joined up with Ryan from this site for a hike and climb on the Lime Mesa trail. We set up a base camp at the Ruby Lakes. This is a beautiful trail with great open views from on top of the mesa for most of the hike. We saw several large herds of elk in the forested valleys below the mesa. Before reaching camp, we walked up Overlook Point (12,998 ft.), which has great views into Ruby Basin. The fishing in Ruby Lake was excellent. On the 2nd day, we did an exhausting climb of Kennedy and Aztec mountain from Ruby Lake. The initial class 3 + ridge walk to Aztec was initially a bit intimidating for an inexperienced flatlander like myself, but once I started concentrating on each obstacle one at a time.....I started really enjoying myself. Once you pass the initially class 3+ ridge with 3 towers to negotiate, it gets more mild as you see in the video. You can see my full video of this hike here.

Week 3"I kayaked and fished around Gunnison. I fished several small creeks, but I enjoyed fishing on the Taylor River the most. I mainly fly-fished, but I took out the rapalas to reach some of those hard to reach places. I find that rapalas often out produce everything on these heavily pressured fish b/c most people use flies, spinners, or spoons for trout. Whitewater kayaking on the Taylor was just exciting enough, but not "too" challenging. Crank up the volume as much as possible in this video to hear the silly "animal sounds" I make when I kayak (I had no idea that I made these sounds until I watched the video).

Week 4"I hiked into the Ice Lake Basin and I set up camp for 3 days near upper Ice Lake. The weather was usually pretty good, so I did not mind camping in the upper, to wake up to amazing views was worth it.

On the 2nd day, I climbed Vermillion Peak. My asthma acted up a bit above 13,000 ft., but I never had to use my inhaler. I just had to slow down or take a break a little more often than I would have liked. Also, I got off trail a couple times and got myself into some pretty steep spots where everything was pretty loose. Honestly, the route is pretty obvious. Just stay on the left and know that if it starts getting are likely off route.

The full (long) video of this hike is here.

Week 5---I hiked into Chicago Basin. I was "afraid" of the crowds before the hike and I was going to avoid it. However, I needed my goat watching fix. Honestly, the crowds were not bad and I climbed my first and only 14'er"Windom Peak. The approach hike into the basin was rather boring and not so fun because I was in a rush to find a decent camp site before dark after being dropped off at 4pm by the train. However, I had so much fun photographing and watching the goats.


The climb up Windom is very well marked and it was easier than Aztec and Vermillion Peak. Also, there is great small stream fishing somewhere in the area (shhhhhhh). I was shocked by the size of some of the fish in this small stream. They were hitting big ugly dry flies without any reluctance. The nymph dropper was not really needed.

Here is a video collage of my 4 weeks in Colorado. After a month of living an active life I feel healthier (no aches) and happier than I have in a long time. Colorado screams: "get outside, be active, and enjoy me". You Colorado natives sure are lucky. Now, I'm back in the sauna of Dallas and I don't want to get out of the air conditioning

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

 Comments or Questions

Great Video
08/23/2013 16:01
Looks like a great adventure.


Two weeks well spent
08/23/2013 16:50
Jealous of your itinerary, looks like you hit some of the best areas in the state.


08/24/2013 00:54
Screeching Weasel. Excellent taste in music sir!

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