There are two ways to get into the Chicago Basin – a looong hike in from Purgatory or a ride on the Durango Silverton Train.
We opted for the Durango Silverton train, and I booked tickets back in April to get us choice seats in the first-class Knight Sky car.
Apparently we’re the first dirty hikers ever to book first class tickets as the lady outside the train emphatically said ‘No!’ when I said we were headed to the car. Once I showed her our tickets she softened up, but it was a laughing moment for all of us.
The train winds along the Animas River from Durango up to Silverton, with a stop in Silverton for lunch and then returning along the same route back to Durango.
Just over halfway up the route is the Needleton Flagstop, where the train drops off hikers and their packs for the 6+ mile hike up into the Chicago Basin.
Colette is smart enough NOT to schlep a bunch of gear into the mountains and then sleep on the ground, so she continued onto Silverton for the roundtrip after the train dropped Shelby, Tom, Greg and myself off at Needleton.
The scenery along the route is pretty amazing, from steep drops down to the Animas River to the towering peaks of the San Juan mountains.
Colette was thankful for the glass ceiling of the train car as the train experienced the same torrential downpour that we hikers got on our trip up to camp.
Expect posts from the Chicago Basin 14ers and the Wilson Group 14ers coming up in a few days!

So Fresh!

So Fresh!
The crew looks so fresh on the front end of the hike!


Knight Sky

Knight Sky
The ticket checker told us ‘NO’ when she saw a bunch of dirty backpackers with first class tickets.


Leaving Durango

Leaving Durango on the Durango Silverton train
The Durango end of the Silverton-Durango Railroad line.


Cheesers

Cheesers
Waiting for departure


All Smiles

All Smiles on the Durango Silverton train
I love this shot of Shelby and Tom.


Ready to Climb

Ready to Climb
Greg is ready to climb!


3551

Car 3551 on the Durango Silverton train
There’s some historic hardware sitting around here.


Durango & Silverton

Durango Silverton train
So many cool train cars, so little film.


Chugging Along

Chugging Along
Winding out of the flatlands of Durango.


Above the Animas

Above the Animas on the Durango Silverton train
A perfect example of the terrain along the Durango-Silverton train route. Note the nerd hanging out of the left side of the frame…


Close Eye

Close Eye
The brakeman making sure Greg doesn’t jump out once he realizes what he signed up for.


Refuel

Refuel
An old water station for the steam-powered locomotives.


Butterfly Whisperer

Butterfly Whisperer
I really am the butterfly whisperer!


I.D.I.O.T.

I.D.I.O.T.
You gotta be a special kinda stupid to hop off a train in the middle of nowhere, hike 6+ miles, and then climb 4 14ers. Guess which is which…


The Animas

The Animas from the Durango Silverton train
The route winds its way up the Animas River from Durango to Silverton.


Still Fresh

Still Fresh
Pre-hike!


Peace and Quiet

Peace and Quiet
If I didn’t know better, I’d say Colette is looking forward to some peace and quiet the next few days!


The Peaks

The Peaks of the San Juans from the Durango Silverton train
Rugged San Juan peaks high above the train.


Pulling Away

Pulling Away from Needleton
Colette is all smiles as the train pulls away after leaving us at the Needleton stop.


Bis Spater

Bis Spater
The crowd that got dumped off at Needleton.


Silverton Train Depot

Silverton Train Depot
496.3 miles to Denver!


Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll
Ready to head back to Durango from Silverton.


Orange Animas

Orange Animas
The EPA accidentally dumped a ton of chemicals in the Animas River a few years back when checking on a leaking mine, now the rocks are all orange.


Weather

Weather
Weather moving in fast over the San Juan Mountains.


And it Starts

And it Starts
Into the rainfall.


Soggy Hikers

Soggy Hikers
Colette is glad that she wasn’t dumb enough to get off the train in this nonsense!


A Quick Ride On the Train


A Quick Ride on the Durango Silverton Train


Above The Animas


Far above the Animas River


Rain Coming Down


Rain pouring down


Needleton Flagstop Rain


The Needleton Flagstop getting dumped on