3. Summer road trip Colorado…July/August.2019

Day 12 7.14
I was out of camp early this morning & headed to town.  I needed to find internet & do a couple of things.  Then I was off to hike.  I drove the 16 miles up Kebler Pass road to the Three Lakes Loop trailhead.   This is one of those short hikes (less than 4 miles) where you get three lakes, a waterfall & a mountain view...lots for this little hike!

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The hike was so nice & I only passed a couple of people on the trail.

The drive to get to the trailhead is through one of the largest Aspen groves in the countryits breathtaking.  So having to drive it to the TH & back is just a gorgeous trip itself.  I stopped along the road to pick up firewood thats scattered around, but also to walk up this little trail into the forest.  It looked like some mystical place filled with airy ferns covering the forest floor & swaying Aspens with their sparkly silvery leaves blowing in the wind.

Then I went to the Brick for a burger & a beer.  I wasn’t ready to be done hiking today, having missed yesterday, so after I left town I drove up to Gothic & stopped at the Visitors Center before they closed.  I wanted to chat with Greta, another friend I’ve met here in Crested Butte.  She was working, but sat & talked & laughed with me for a bit.  

Then I drove a short distance up the road to one of the busiest trails in the area…Judd Falls.  Except, on this late Sunday afternoon, there was hardly anyone on the trail.  Beyond the falls, the trail continues another 3 miles to Copper Lake…a really hard hike near the end.  It’s one of the only trails Danny has said he never wants to hike again.  We’ve done it together twice; once day hiking & once backpacking over to Aspen & I’ve done it one time on my own.  But today, I wanted to hike just past the falls to see if I remembered the trail correctly.  It’s on an old jeep road, but I remembered before the first hairy crossing (there are three before you get to the lake), the trail just opens up to see the big mountains…so that’s where I was headed.  No one else at all was on this part of the trail…I think some have hiked up to Copper Lake this year, but the water crossings must still be super tough.  

But sure enough, it was how I remembered it & I just stood & looked up at the views of the mountains I’d not seen for awhile.

Then I hiked the mile back to the falls which are bursting with snowmelt!

Along the Judd Falls trail you get great views of both Gothic Mountain & Mt. Crested Butte.  It’s no wonder this is such a popular trail.

And, it might seem like it would be getting boring, but I headed back to camp for a beer, a book & a campfire….nothing about that is boring to me.

Day 13 7.15
I was again lazy in camp this morning just reading & wildlife watching.  This time of year is perfect because the afternoon storms haven’t started yet, so you can go hiking about any time of day.  Id heard Washington Gulch road was open to the 403 trailhead, so I was going to drive up there to hike that trail.  This is another back country road I dont like driving & you never know what shape its going to be in.  But, up I went.  Its only the last part of the road that is torturestraight up, gravel & big rocks, washed out ruts going both up & across & hair pin turn on soft fine dirt near the top.  Four wheelers & dirt bikes love this road as Im sure Jeepers do too.but not me.  I headed up the crazy part, noting a big mud hole rut on the steepest part & the ditches on either side of this narrow road were deep enough I didnt want to slide in them.  I didnt have Camper in 4WD so I spun my tires a little & she fishtailed a tiny bit as I made through the mud-rut & up the hill.  

They built a new trail & moved the trailhead last fall, so this would be the first time Id done this part of the new section.  The parking lot was almost full as I grabbed the last space on this Monday morningI bet its super crazy on the weekends, people parking everywhere they can squeeze into, even if it over the top of wildflowers.  The new trail is wonderful, its much longer than I thought. I bet its about 2/3 new.  The views are magnificentbetter than the beginning of the old trail which took you by an old mine.  I know some people love looking at all that crap laying around, but not me.  I think someone should have cleaned up after themselves, but you see it all through Colorado.  Besides, that old part of the trail was on private land.  But I like this new one better, plus I think its less steep than the old one.

The view of the Memorial Bench…the trail no longer goes right by it.

There was still lots of snow on the trail in the forest.

The view from the top…just magnificent!


Going back down the trail, this is looking over to the Anthracite Mesa trail, then beyond that is the ridge near my camp & beyond that to Scarp Ridge…love these views of all my favorite places in Crested Butte.

Once off the trail, I did put Camper in 4WD, not wanting to slide on the muddy part down the steep road & I was keeping my fingers crossed no car would be coming up that road.  They would have the right of way, but there’s no way I could back up such a steep, muddy rutted road.  Before I got off the gravel part of the road, I put the 4Runner back into 2WD mode…but it didn’t go.  

Uh oh.

So, I went to Bonez for happy hour….queso & a margarita, then walked down to the concert where I sat with Carole, Anu & Michelle…another new friend I was introduced to last week by another friend named Susan.  Such fun women!

I drove back to camp my dashboard now looking like a Christmas tree…all lit up & blinking.  I have three lights that seem to stay on permanently, although I quit worrying about them along time ago…my mechanic & Danny both said “don’t worry” & so I gave it up.  Plus I Googled it…I’d guess about 1/3 to 1/2 of old 4Runners all have these lights on & no one worries about it…neither do I anymore.  But now I had my 4WD light blinking green & orange…blink! blink! blink! (At least they didn’t make it red…red blinking lights terrify me!)  Danny would probably say I over-worry about my 4Runner, him, our kids & grand girls (although not in that order) & under worry & not care about most everything else.  I wouldn’t argue with him…it’s true.  So, I made the dreaded phone call..the kind of call I hate to make to Danny….”I think I have car trouble”.  He said just to wait another day & maybe it would go away.

I didn’t sleep much all night.

Day 14 7.16
I stayed in camp & finished another book.  Then I went into town trying not to be a distracted driver as I was truly distracted by all the blinking! blinking! blinking! that continued.  I knew this was my fault.  I know that youre supposed to use your 4WD every month for 10 miles.  Its on my calendar & pops up monthly.  But I hadnt used it since my last trip.  I sat in the parking lot in town & Googled how to unstick a 4WD in an old 4Runner.  Im not the only person to have this happen to them, but I felt guilty but mostly worried.  I tried a couple of things they suggested, but it didnt work.  I tried apologizing to Camper for my negligence & thinking positive thoughts…blink! blink! blink!

I went to Momos for lunch…such good food.  And maybe eating something cooked by someone named Karma would help…although there is good Karma & bad Karma….I just ate.

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Then I drove back down Washington Gulch road, only not as far as the crappy part to the Snodgrass trailhead…I heard there were beautiful wildflowers blooming there right now.  Also, the sun’s very hot & the first part of the trail is through the Aspens, so I knew that would be cool & wonderful.  And then I hit the trail!  It was a lovely hike! (Nothing blinked at me while I was on the trail!)

Thats Gothic Mountain behind a field of Lupines.

Mt. Crested Butte with the town below.

Whetstone mountain in the distance.

All colors of flowers along the trail.

I considered hiking further…the trail continues, but even though the skies were blue & clear, it felt like rain….which it gently started to sprinkle about 5 minutes after I turned around.  The weather in the mountains is so unpredictable.  It never really rained, it just felt like you were walking through a mister.

I went back to camp, blinking all the way with my worry-meter rising.  I texted my mechanic back home (who I think believes I’m crazy) & he called me right away.  He’s a Toyota genius & is as unpanicky as Danny is.  He told me something to try, but if that didn’t work, where was the closest dealer?  About 80 miles.  He said sometimes, if it’s just stuck & not a broken part, if you know what you’re doing, you can bang on something & it will fix it.  This is such a typical ‘guy’ response & both my mechanic & my husband have proven themselves to take what sounds like the most unbelievable fixes & fix things.  So, I’ve learned to believe in their suggestions.  But, I also feel like dealerships don’t bang on stuff to fix it…they like to replace parts.  But, with about 1/2 the vehicles in CB being Toyotas, I figured there was a local mechanic who could bang on cars.  I texted two of my friends that live here that both drive older Toyotas & got two different mechanics names back in reply.  I was now on a mission….no more hiking until I had Camper fixed.

Earlier I had soaked some dehydrated food for dinner tonight (after throwing out my entire bag of dehydrated garbanzo beans that had molded…I really wasn’t upset.  I’m having to force myself to eat these meals….I’d so rather be eating out. But since I’ve eaten at all my favorite places at least once, & I might be having a huge car repair bill, I figured I’d better try to eat something in camp).  It was awful!  A new combination that I won’t be trying a second time.  I had an empty ice bag (conviently I have one about every day) so I dumped dinner in that.  Instead, feeling super tired from not much sleep last night, I opened a big beer, a package of green olives & topped it off with a few dried cherries for dessert…I’ve never claimed to be a healthy eater.  Then I built a fire, opened my book & took my mind of my blinking! problems.

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But, the day wasn’t over yet.  The sky turned all kinds of colors of gorgeous. 

Oh…& I’m just throwing this in there.  Danny managed to get a picture to come through out at camp tonight.  He’s just returned back home from a 4 day trip with his Mom to her place at the lake.  I wish he was here relaxing & hiking & drinking good beer instead of spending his vacation time working.  But he’d left the cats at home for the 4 days all alone, & this was his way of assuring me they were fine.  This is my Sammy girl.  I think she has divorced me.  Since I’ve been gone for the most part since April & during the two weeks I was home we had to pin her down several times to cut some malicious mats from her fur, she’s very unhappy with me.  But, it was sweet of him to send it to me for sure!

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Day 15 7.17
I didn’t sleep much last night either.  

Early this morning, I drove into town trying the thing my mechanic told me to do.  Blink! blink! blink!  I parked at the 4way & called a local mechanic.  I sounded just like a dumb girl telling him my 4WD was stuck & did he know how to bang on it to try to unstick it.  He said to bring it right over.  High Altitude Mechanics is just south of CB in their Industrial Park.  I pulled in & he moved out the vehicle he was working on & put mine on the lift.  Danny had told me the process for the bangingit would take two people (get your mind out of the gutter, were talking cars here).  One to bang & one to press the 4WD button over & over.  So when I heard the mechanic ask the second mechanic to come over for a few minutes, then loud banging, I figured Id come to the right shop.  He backed my car out, & within about 15 minutes of when I drove in there, my 4Runner was back in 2WD.  Yay!  He didnt charge me anything & I was shocked.  He said he thought my something-box might be going out.  I promised not to put it in 4WD until I got back home.  I drove back into CB to the guy who sells local fresh picked cherries & peaches & bought some & promptly took them back to the mechanics with lots & lots of thank yous thrown in.  They were very happy about the gift!  And I was so happy Camper was in working orderor at least mostly working order.  I could drive around here & get her back home with no problems. Yay! Yippee!

I gave Danny the good news then kept driving south headed to Gunnison.  I’ve somehow managed to set a new personal record for days between showers.  Even though I’m not too bothered by having such low personal hygiene standards, I’m not going to divulge how long it had been.  So, with no blinking! to distract me (but I did love looking at my plain dashboard with only the three lights glowing) I made a mental list of what to do in Gunny….Walmart for their cheap & big bag of ice; the super nice grocery store for something to eat that’s not been dehydrated & firewood; gasoline which is about .25 cents a gallon cheaper there than in CB; evidently a shower at the Community Center; lunch at my favorite sandwich shop; & even though Jill’s not with me (sad face), shopping at the used clothing stores we always go to & Threads & Treads—a cool outdoor clothing & shoe store.  So, that’s what I did.  And, I did really, really enjoy the shower. I gave myself a brutal haircut before I got in the shower.  I even took both pair of Chacos in the shower with me & scrubbed them clean & sweet smelling as I did my body.  The sandwich shop I was planning on hitting up had changed hands & one of the store owners told me it was not nearly as good.  

I went to the brewery for a beer & pizza…something I rarely eat when I travel solo.  I just can’t eat a whole one & eating leftover pizza once it’s sat in a cooler is disgusting.  But, I ordered the Thai Chicken pizza on the recommendation of the bartender & a fairly plain stout.   I did a little bit of looking in the shops, but in the end didn’t find anything I needed.  

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I left Gunnison with my music on, singing all the way & loving the part of the drive when you first see Crested Butte as you drive into town…I will never tire of this view & coming back to this special place!

I stopped at the library to turn in a couple of books & checked out more.  And, I finished off the pizza on the drive back to camp.

The camp spot next to me was empty on my return but didnt stay that way for long.  A big truck camper slowly pulled in going over all the ruts & dips with care.  The couple, about my age, pulled in then jumped out of their car & made a beeline over to me with big smiles.  Do you mind if we camp in this spot?  This was so nice….not necessary but nice.  I said of course not, it was a legitimate spot.  They were Sue & Scott from Glenwood Springs with a tiny but cute little dog.  They thought they might only stay one night, but they were so nice I was hoping they’d stay for more.  We visited for awhile, then I returned to build a fire & read & they started to set up camp.

I turned in early hoping for a good nights sleep since my worry meter was back down in the green zone.

Day 16 7.18
I slept good last night & enjoyed a care free morning drinking my coffee, reading another book & counting the elk on the ridge (16!) When I finally made it town, I Face Timed with Emma & Claire & read Claire several books.  Then I went to hike another short hike to Long Lake (or Meridian LakeI dont know why there are two names) & hiked it from end to end.  This is where the locals come to swim, but Im not swimming because its probably like 40 degrees in that water!

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I was excited about the rest of my day!  I’d texted Rick, whose mechanic fixed Camper & told him the next time we met at the Brick, I was buying his beer.  We met at the coolest outdoor bar in town (the Brick Oven) & chatted for about an hour.  Then I was off to Caroles beautiful home just south of town.  She had invited me & a few other local women to dinner.  Wow!  It was a wonderful evening!  I’d known Susan the longest, but also met a couple of women whom I’d never met before.  These women all live here, & have such interesting past & current lives.  Dinner was fabulous & I felt thrilled to have been included in this group as the only non-local.  Love this town & it’s people!!

Carole, Anu & Lauren

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Me, Susan & Michelle

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The view from Carole’s living room…wow!  just wow!

I was late, way after dark getting home tonight.  My friend Cheryl, that was here last week, had gone back to Kansas last Sunday.  But just after being there a few days, decided to come back.  I offered to let her camp with me until the site next to me opened up.  So I knew she’d be in camp when I got there.  She hadn’t brought her bus back, but instead was just car camping.  I could tell she was probably asleep when I got back to camp.  So I tucked in too.  What a fun day it had been & I always love making new friends!

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