08-Jul-2017 -- After 16 miles of trail-running to reach 38N 107W, my friend AJ and I headed two hours north to Crested Butte with the intention of finding a campsite close to this confluence and relaxing, saving the confluence run for the following morning. However, along Gothic Road (FR #317) north out of Crested Butte, despite being bustling with activity and normally a haven of dispersed camping, it was temporarily prohibited to camp outside of the four designated sites (literally, camping for four tents). With no options to camp in the valley and not wanting to camp an hour away only to have to return again in the morning, we made the snap decision to tackle this one right then and there on the same day.
Driving my Honda Fit, I knew that the road that previous visitors had used to approach the confluence from the southwest would not work for us. AJ and I ended up, before this trip, plotting a course almost directly from the south, beginning at Avery Peak Campground. While this added another couple miles to the round trip total, a benefit to this would be that we wouldn’t have to cross the raging East River or its tributary by the confluence. AJ marked waypoints for his GPS watch based on satellite imagery, focusing on taking advantage of clearings and existing trails.
We were off jogging by late afternoon, the sun still high in the sky although obscured by some slightly threatening clouds, and a temperature of around 70 °F. The trail along the east bank of the East River was easy enough to follow, and we were able to avoid the flooded stream crossings by tracking upstream each of the little tributary creeks a little bit and hop crossing. When it came time to veer off due north we had some difficulty finding a trail or a decent place to trot because of the dense wildflower growth (pre-peak colors, unfortunately). We were thankful we had the waypoints to guide us.
I had done so well avoiding getting my feet wet, but suddenly, mere minutes before arriving, I lost my balance into some mud. I may or may not have unleashed an obscenity into the woods. But then I reminded myself how fortunate we were to be out there trail-running and not sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen. That mindset helped…
… but the mosquitoes did not. We reached the confluence after about 40 minutes of trotting, and by that time any bug spray we had on must have sweat off, because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them swarm like that. The confluence dance took about two minutes, surprisingly short considering the dense tree cover and fallen timber almost directly on the confluence spot, but it felt like an eternity as it was all we could do to swat and hold the camera/GPS receiver at the same time. We took the requisite pictures, skipped the selfie, and darted back the way we came. It was definitely the shortest amount of time I've ever spent at a confluence.
The mosquitoes continued to be great motivation to keep our pace up, and we arrived back at the car about 80 minutes after we had started, with a final distance of 4.2 miles and an elevation gain of 709 feet. See the amazing animation that AJ created with our GPS data here.
Afterwards, we drove back down the valley and 20 minutes up Slate River Road before finding a viable dispersed campsite. It felt good to make a fire and chill after over 20 miles of high-altitude, terrain-intensive trail-running to confluences. The night was intensely bright, one of the most stunning full moons I’d ever seen. Waking up the next morning we headed back to Fort Collins.
Mission accomplished for the weekend. Proud to have successfully achieved my 28th and 29th confluences in Colorado!