La Platas, CO (29) Bob Leverett
July 01, 2009


Here are m ore photos from yesterday's record breaking trip up La Plata Canyon to Kennebec Pass. I would like to point out that La Plata Canyon, up which we drove, is a marvelously wooded mountain gorge. Its depth by common methods of measurement and comparison is between 3,000 and 3,500 feet - not so deep as the Animas River Gorge, but for me, equally scenic. Along the way, I measured a couple dozen Englemann spruce to heights of between 100 and 110 feet - enough to satisfy myself that trees in that height class are common along La Plata Creek up to an altitude of 11,000 feet - in protected areas. However, there are populations of taller Englemann spruces in the gorge, but their relative frequency would be difficult to determine. I'm not going to be able to do it on this trip. Somewhere in the gorge there is Englemann growing that we will confirm to over 140 feet. My present belief is that is near the maximum height that the species will achieve in the gorge and it will do that only near the water and deep within the gorge.
The first image is obviously that of Rocky Mountain columbine. It was too early to see it in profusion in the upper elevations, where it becomes a carpet flower. Maybe next year. 
The second image looks to the northeast and into the West Needle and Needle subranges of the San Juans. To the right, the big peaks include Elous at 14,083 feet and probably Windom and Sunshine, two other fourteeners in the Needles.
The 3rd image is of Cumberland Basin, directly beneath us. The 4-wheel drive road to near Kennebeck Pass visible in the basin is the one we drove. Faye Schrater expertly drove the road and made the experience a complete pleasure. 

Full report on today's activities this evening.


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   I used Monica's Nikon Coolpicx5400. 

Attached for your viewing pleasure are three more images of yesterdaay's La Plata adventure. The first image is from above the Cumberland Basin area, a big bowl-shaped depression just below timberline. Cumberland Basin is the origin of the La Plata River. The big ridge in the foreground is the summit of 12,388-foot Cumberland mountain. You can see one remaining patch of snow. Our path took us up onto the side of Cumberland Mountain. The second image looks down into Cumberland Basin. The ridge in the foreground is part of Snowstorm Peak. The third image is from the pass between Cumberland Mountain and 12-511-foot Snowstorm Peak. According to my GPS our elevation was 11,956 feet at the point of the photo. According to the topographical map, our elevation was 12,000 feet. The long line of peaks in the distance are the San Juans near Silverton.


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