For the 2nd year in a row, Kangaroo the Dog and I fled Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Day celebration for the fantastic wildflower basins of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Hitting peak wildflower season perfectly, I was rewarded with the most dramatic wildflower display I have ever seen.
I spent the first day exploring Ice Lake Basin and Island Lake before heading to Wetterhorn Basin, and then around the San Juan’s to Lake City and the Alpine Loop to American Basin. I’ve wanted to visit American Basin for years, but it is not the easiest place to go to. The American Basin trailhead is a good 16 mile drive on dirt roads and even longer if you’re coming from Silverton, but you need a high-clearance vehicle 4WD for that. From Lake City the road is still bumpy but supposed to be accessible via 2WD. I followed a Prius to the trailhead and I honestly can’t believe he made it.
After rallying my Subaru through a river I grabbed the most perfect camp spot ever at the heart of the basin. I put up the tent, cooked up some mac and cheese, and snapped some photos before my campsite was overrun with tripods. Apparently I was camped right in front of one of the most photographed points in all of Colorado (pictured below).
The pups and I were up bright and early to begin the hike up Handies Peak (14,058′) – my second 14er and Roo’s first. The dark clouds surrounding the summit made for a quick hike reaching the summit in under 2 hours. There’s nothing better for the motivation than an impending storm and it felt like the sky would open up at any moment. The dark clouds and crazy lighting made for some gorgeous photos so it was well worth the trip.