Colorado Trail Day 28: A Volcanic Plug Saves the Day (as only a Geologist Would Say..)

We left Creede this morning after a great breakfast at the Snowshoe Lodge. It is a rustic hotel but well taken care of with wonderful breakfast. As we are sitting eating breakfast, in walks Cathy Metz. Cathy Metz is the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Durango. I worked with her as a CDOT Director and when I was on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for the city. Her husdand, Jim, is hiking the Colorado Trail as well and she is meeting him with resupplies and support. We have leapfrogged with Jim the last few days. I had no idea he was Cathy’s husband. Small world sometimes but we are getting closer to home so I am not completely surprised.
Beautiful columbines and paintbrushes along the trail. Yes – that is their real color; no enhancements necessary!

We get a ride back up the four wheel drive road to the Equity Mine where we will start our hike back to the Colorado Trail where we left off. Our ride is from Deb who thru hikers know as the person who will take you back up the road. She is a local Grandma who house sits, dog sits, and cat sits. She entertains us with stories of a dog she is taking care of for 2 hikers she gave a ride to.

We get to the Equity Mine and back on road and San Luis Pass trail around 9am. It is already stormy looking and we fear the rains will come early today. Most of our hiking today will be above 12,000 feet. The elevation at the Mine site is 11,040 feet and we begin climbing up. We are climbing to a saddle north of a Peak just called 13,111. By 10am it starts to rain and Ray and I put on all our rain gear. We are exposed in the open tundra and grasses above treelike but keep moving.
Ray near Peak 13111 south of Creede Colorado with all his rain gear on

I am listening for thunder and looking for like lightning. We will need to get down to the trees and quickly if it is thundering and there is lightening. The rain pelts down hard and we reach the saddle at 12,887 feet. I see flashes of lightning and start to hurry as we start heading down to Mineral Creek. It is raining so hard the trail has turned into a creek and my shoes are slipping in the mud. I was warm and dry in a hotel room this morning. And why am I doing this again?

Then the sun comes out and Ray points to a ridge where you can see columns of rhyolite, a reddish eruptive rock and a planed off surface. It is a volcanic plug where magma plugged the vent of an explosive volcano. I suddenly feel energized thinking about what happened here and feeling the sun. Yes, now I remember why I am here.

We stop early to camp because it is stormy and we have gotten to Snow Mesa which is all above tree line. Time to call it a day.

A volcanic plug which blocked a vent in an ancient volcano. If you look closely you can see vertical columns where the magma cooled.
Looking towards Snow Mesa from the last forested area for 10 miles. Best to stop early for camp in the trees based on the weather!

Just the Facts

Total Miles: 8.3
Cumulative Miles: 347.4
Trail Segments: 21
Camp Elevation: 11856 feet, Saddle on dry ridge
Elevation Gain:  2731 feet
Elevation Loss:  2509 feet
Weather: Raining and cloudy most of the day

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