Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fishing the Rio Grande Headwaters

On Wednesday we loaded up a lunch, my chair, and some fishing gear and went over to the upper Rio Grande Valley. We went over Slumgullion and Spring Creek Passes, and stopped for a bit at North Clear Creek Falls. 

Here you can see the volcanic history of the area; the creek flows across a flat high valley for several miles before dropping over the lip of the La Garita Caldera - a huge volcanic caldera formed during the largest volcanic eruption in Earth history.

A short trail took us to a different overlook and views downstream:

You can see that the aspen are already beginning to turn yellow here.

Next, we drove down to the Rio Grande, and went upstream about 30 miles to the river's headwaters above the Rio Grande Reservoir.  Here you're surrounded by the ridges of the Weminuche Wilderness and the proposed Handies Peak Wilderness.  I loved this mountain just north of where we parked:

The rocks at the base of this outcropping looked so blue in real life - I wish they'd showed up better in the photograph. 

Don fished for about an hour - and then the clouds built up quickly and it began raining. Since we were at the upper end of a long, rough, dirt/gravel road, we decided to head back downriver. We stopped for a while at River Hill Campground, where he was able to fish the river again. 


We took notice of the complete devastation of the Englemann Spruce forests in the upper Rio Grande Valley and Spring Creek Valley - hundreds and hundreds of square miles of TOTAL destruction of the spruces by the spruce bark beetle. They're moving westward towards the Lake Fork Valley (where Lake City is) and have made it over Spring Creek Pass into the Cebolla Creek Valley. I'm not talking about the here-and-there destruction like we have in the San Bernardino Mountains - I'm talking about 100% of the trees for miles and miles and miles.  The aspen are the only ones left alive. It's so sad - worse than that, even. The area is now prime for forest fires, and it'll be hundreds of years before it recovers. So sad. 


heyduke50 said...

sad to hear about the beetle damage in that area as it is so beautiful there...

TravelBug-Susan said...

What a lovely waterfall!

This is a great post. I've learned about a new area.

Doesn't the name Slumgullion remind you of something from Lord of the Rings?

Thanks for the information.