Day 2 – The Alpine Loop: Poughkeepsi Gulch, Lake Como, California Pass, Animas Forks; and return to “The Super Secret Trail”
After a good night’s sleep in the roof top tent, we were ready to head out early to see what else the San Juan Mtns had to offer. Our trusty trail leader, JH1, planned for all to explore the Alpine Loop. The Loop is about a 65 mile trail through the mountains and provided some challenging trail obstacles. We started the Loop at Poughkeepsi Gulch – this section of the trail climbed over loose rocks, through streams and led us to the main obstacle – “The Wall.” Even though Landcruisers are not rock crawlers, they can hold their own. We all made up “The Wall”, with only one having to be winched up, due to lack of a suspension lift and larger tires. The scenery up to this point was nothing short of amazing….it is literally something you see “in the movies” and is known as the “Switzerland of America”.
Just a few miles up the rocky road, we stopped for lunch at Lake Como — A turquoise colored lake nestled in the midst of the mountains. Refueled, we headed through California Gulch and ended the Alpine Loop at the ghost town of Animas Forks.
Animas Forks, a small mining town, was first established around 1875 and remained active until the 1920s. The town reached it’s largest population in 1883 with over 450 residents. After years of decline, the town rebounded in 1904 with the construction of a giant mill – The Gold Prince Mill, which only stayed open for 6 years. Today, several of the buildings are still very much intact and are open to the public.
After visiting the ghost town, we headed into Silverton. A couple of Landcruiser stragglers had arrived late the previous day, and missed “The Super Secret Trail”, so with some time on our hands, we decided to revisit the trail and share the view. The second trip did not dissappoint. With clear skies, we were able to see the green mountains in a totally different “light”.
Back at camp, we had another night by the camp fire….we could definitely get used to this!