San Juan Mountains

by Gillian Larson | posted: June 25, 2018
Shyla at the start of the San Juan section

After our rest day yesterday, the horses and I began packing trip in San Juan mountains. We rode out of Spring Creek Pass with only a short 19 miles planned for this first section. Loading up in the morning was tough because Takoda’s panniers were quite heavy, but I was able to use the cattle ramp at the corrals to help get them on his back (so I wouldn’t have to unload and repack them).

Takoda packing into the San Juan mountains

For most of the day it was bright and sunny but bitterly cold with a tremendously strong wind. I rode in all my layers of clothes and my hat and gloves to try to stay warm. It looked beautiful, since it was so clear and bright, but it was very cold especially at the highest elevations. We rode over the highest point on the CT, at 13,200 ft, and spent most of the day at 12,000, which is also where we camped. (Gray’s Peak is the highest point of the CDT, but here the CT and CDT are still sharing the same path.) This was my highest campsite so far and is likely to be the highest of the whole ride. Camping there was difficult because of the lack of trees; I had to work very hard to highline horses—I had one tree and some bushes on a knoll to work with, and it was too far for highline alone to reach so I attached Takoda’s lash cinch as well to make it work. But there was lots of grass, so the horses got to graze, which made them happy.

a moose near our camp

Not long after I got in my tent, the horses started to fuss and I peeked out to see a female moose passing through our camp. It was my first moose of the trip. She passed through camp to get to the creek, then crossed the creek and climbed the hill on the opposite side and went on her way.


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