01-Jun-2002 -- Third time's the charm. We finally made it. This time Michelle and I invited a bunch of friends. Mike and Xiaoling followed us from Lafayette and everybody else made their own way to our agreed upon meeting point.
It's about a three hour drive to the general area of the confluence and we met at the end of the paved road at 10:30 in the morning. We then drove to the trailhead. It was hard to recognize the trailhead since vehicle traffic had been blocked since we were there last year. This time I had made over thirty waypoints in my GPS to insure that we stayed on the trail. Last year we had foolishly followed the jeep trail and failed to spot the San Carlos Trail. With all the waypoints it was easy to spot the correct path.
The confluence is less then a mile from the trailhead, but it is on the far side of a 1000 foot deep ravine. We followed the trail for about three and a half miles. Most of the trail was extremely narrow with loose rocks, so we had to proceed single file. At the bottom of the ravine we had to cross two large streams. The map claims that they are Willis Creek and the Saint Charles River. The Saint Charles River had a wooden foot bridge over it claiming that it was made by Boy Scout Troop 93. Once over the bridge the trail headed back up. At one point while heading up we were less then 1/10 of a mile from the confluence, but getting to it would require scrambling along a cliff face. Instead we stuck to our plan of staying on the trail and approaching the confluence from the top.
The final half mile was on a jeep trail that I suspect, but cannot prove, was the same one as at the trailhead. Once we were as close as possible on the trail, we bushwhacked the final little bit until the land dropped off into the ravine. This brought us to within 425 feet of the confluence. Mike and I then scrambled down the cliff face to get to 65 feet from the confluence. The going was extremely steep with many loose rocks. Normally, it would be possible to hang onto trees and bushes on the way down, but in this drought year all vegetation was extremely brittle and simply snapped off in our hands.
After taking the necessary photos, we scrambled back to the top and ate our lunches with the rest of the crowd. Hiking out was only a matter of retracing our steps back up the path. Altogether we spent about five hours hiking. This is one of the tougher confluences in Colorado. Please feel free to request my waypoint list.