Lake Como Picture of the Week

Lake Como as seen from the top of Calaifornia Pass.Lake Como – A little alpine lake from California Pass in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

Something is intoxicating about standing on a mountaintop. You get a sense of accomplishment—an incredible buzz—while taking in the view. As you spot familiar landmarks, the map you carry around in your mind gets updated. I can understand the addition mountain climbers have to the highest peaks. I’m just too lazy to be one of them, and you won’t catch me on the climbing wall at the local gym—or inside the gym in the first place. Spending a day with Fred driving his FJ up-high passes in the San Juan Mountains was good enough for me.

When we decided not to spend all day driving Colorado’s Alpine Loop but drove up two of its passes, we wanted another challenge. The first ascent was scary, while the second was not so much. I felt like a kid on a swing urging his parents to push harder. “Again,” I shouted. So, we stood on Engineer Pass with the map spread over the hood, looking for another route back to Silverton. After all, we didn’t want to go back down the way we came. That was along the Animas River and was flat and dull. We agreed on a route that would take us over two more passes before dropping back to Silverton via Cement Creek, and that meant that we’d have first to drive back down to Animas Forks.

From the ghost town, we headed west up California Gulch. Going in this direction, the road ran straight ahead for several miles and appeared to end midway up California Mountain. Several times, I’ve traveled roads without a clue what’s ahead. For example, Interstate 15 is heading north out of Mesquite, Nevada. As it leads for the Beaver Mountains, you can’t pick out where the freeway climbs over them. I always involuntarily back out of the gas in case the road suddenly ends—like against the mountainside. At the very last moment, the Virgin River Gorge opens and swallows the highway. I was getting that feeling now.

It wasn’t until the perceived end of the road that it turned on itself and climbed behind a side ridge that hid the route from below, and as we drove around the bend, the trail went vertical. I questioned our decision to go this way because this was undoubtedly the beginning of the roller coaster from hell. Fred managed to keep all four wheels on the ground while his truck grunted its way up the grade. When we reached the top, as with the other passes, there was a spot to park and look around. When I got out, I decided a box of Depends would be a handy accouterment on these trips.

But the view! The light was coming in, and there were great shots back at California Gulch, and in front was this pretty little alpine lake—Lake Como—on the other side. I have seen pictures of places like these in magazines, but I’ve never been to one. It was breathtaking—well, 13,000 feet is stunning enough, but you know what I mean. I snapped several variations of this photo, and we eventually drove down to the lake where Fred tried to park over an open mine shaft, but that’s another story. This week’s featured image is the version I liked best because of its composition and color details. I call it Lake Como. I hope you like it.

Don’t let your eyes miss out—feast them on an even grander version of Lake Como right here (Jim’s Page)! Buckle up because we’re diving back into Colorado’s enigmatic San Juan Mountains aboard Fred’s Toyota next week. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!

Until next time — jw

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