This weekend was well overdue…
We had been promising ourselves more backpacking and overnight (non-car-camping) trips since we moved to Colorado, but work travel, family visits, and other “life” stuff seemed to take precedence. Finally, this past weekend, we took the pups and met up with a couple of friends to explore Rainbow Hot Springs Trail in the Weminuche Wilderness of the San Juan National Forest.
Though we didn’t quite get the secluded wilderness experience once we hit the campsite area – we were actually asked to leave a site by three young ladies as we set up our tents…they apparently “claimed” it (though, there was no sign of anyone staying there) prior to our arrival – the hike was exactly what I hoped for…
In fact, at some points along the trail, though there were four people and two pups in our party, there were moments when I felt like the only person for miles. The area was burned over a few years back, but the lushness from this year’s wet summer has had an incredible effect! After a mile of private property (hence, leashed pup), the forest takes over with cliffs and the river below.
Once we hit the wilderness area, we cross three bridges, an unexpected water fall and wash out, and only one other party. The trail meanders along the San Juan for some time, but dodges in and out (and up and down – 1400 feet) along forested nooks away from the water.
Once we found our site for the evening – slightly down trail – we realized our frustration for losing a camp site was unnecessary, rather, we should likely have thanked them. We made the right choice to not put up a fight for the first site! While they kept the higher ground among dead fire-scarred pines, we set camp in a beautiful meadow along the gorgeous San Juan River. The river flowed just a few yards from the site and three hot spring pools were right along the edge.
With hot springs immediately available, the other three in our party took a soak to ease the day’s 4.5 mile trek with fully loaded packs. I rested in camp with the pups – Emma with a minor injury (ripped pad) and Moose with tight joints – and watched the sun set over my shoulder.