3. The trail that led to Aspen Hospital...Colorado 7.2008

7/12

Today was Danny's last day in Colorado, so we packed up the tent and drove by Twin Lakes on the way to Denver.  This is such a beautiful area and not near as crowded as most magnificent mountain towns.

 

Goodbyes in the Big City and Hello's in a Small Mountain Town

   

We stopped in Silverthorne to grab a shower and Danny packed his bag and we repacked the car.  Then we headed to Denver to share some fish and chips and beer (someone at the Salida brewfest told me that Wynkoop's served great chile beer; and it was very good.  I could have had a couple, but it didn't have that WOW! or kick like Amica's) at the Wynkoop Brewery.  A quick trip to REI to look for Danny some low-hikers, then we were off to the airport.  It was hard to leave him; I so wished he could share this month-long adventure with me.  If he had the time off, I don't know that he would choose to spend that way; but I'm so grateful that he is accepting of my wanderlust and wanderings. 

Earlier in the day, Jodee called me and graciously invited me to her wonderful mountain home in Kittredge.  So, I took her up on it!  We've emailed a few times since meeting in Crested Butte in April, but it is really great to see her again.  We met for dinner and ate on the deck at El Rancho, looking out to the mountains and caught up.  After dinner, we headed to a new coffee house/bar, "Cup O Joe" that some of her friends just opened in their small town.  It was a blast!  She introduced to me to so many of her friends and the music was great (Joe, one of the musicians is also one of the owners of the coffee house, Linda is the other owner).  The photo on the right is of Mary Huckins, a musician friend of Jodee's.  And, Jodee gave me one of Mary's CD's "Dakota Blonde", which is her favorite and I can't wait to listen to it.  I also had a great conversation with another of Jodee's friends, Krista. 

         

Then Jodee and Krista suggested we go to the next town, Evergreen (about a minute away), and visit the historical local bar "Little Bear".

         

The band was great and loud, the crowd was pumped and we met more of Jodee's friends.  Jodee and Jeff were dancing it up!

We left the bar and drove back to Jodee's wonderful place, visited a little more and then said good night.

Tomorrow we're going hiking in the mountains surrounding Kittredge and Evergreen.

But for tonight....I'm sleeping in an actual bed!

********

7/13

          

Jodee and I had coffee and breakfast on her deck this morning; this deer was right across the street.  Here's a photo (on the right) of her cool duplex.

                                

We hiked from her place to nearby O'Fallon Park...really nice hike with great views of the mountains.

         

Here are today's wildflowers....new ones I haven't seen before.

        

We stopped back by Cup O Joe's for some water after our hike and Joe and Linda were there; along with the adorable waitress that served me my "gigantic" beer last night.  So we said hi and then walked up to Jodee's place.  We ate some cheese, crackers and fruit on her deck and then "went topless"....removing the top to her jeep and headed up to Mt. Evans...the highest paved road in North America.

     

      

One of the many great views going up to the top of Mt. Evans.

     

We were following a little car, plastered with bumper stickers and Jodee said "hey that car is from Kansas".  We ended up stopping in the same place (for a photo op) and started visiting with the cutest couple: Mollie and Neil.  Neil was from Manhattan, but has managed to ESCAPE the state and now "temporarily" lives in Colorado.  They're just traveling around Colorado, enjoying all the fabulous mountains and all that this wonderful place has to offer.  Last summer they went to 34 states!  And in December, they're headed to South America...WOW!  They are truly living an adventurous life.  I envy them, but wish them so much enjoyment, excitement, adventure, good luck, and hope fantastic people cross their paths.

     

The weather was really wonderful, about 83 degrees, but by the time we reached the top at 14,130 the actual temp was 48 degrees with a wind chill of 43 degrees.....but oh...the views warmed the heart and soul!

                             

As we got closer to the top, the mountain goats were everywhere...and they're darling little "kids".  We could have sat and watched them all day...really cute.     

This one still had a perfect coat and looked like he was posed in front of the beautiful blue sky, just waiting for someone to stop and take a photo of him.

                      

We parked the car and hiked the rest of the way to the top...I've now finished my first "fourteener"....even though we drove most of the way up.

  

Now the marmots were posing for us on the way down the road!

One last cool view of this rock wall before we finished the drive.  We then headed to Idaho Springs to eat at Beaujos Pizza and it was great.  I had a nut brown from their local brewery, TommyKnockers, with dinner and it was really good.

We're back at Jodee's place for my last night here in absolutely beautiful, wonderful and fantastic Evergreen. 

We're meeting Kristin for coffee in the morning, and then I'll head out.

I plan on driving to

**************

7/14

Well, actually, Jodee and I met Kristin at the coffee house this morning for a last visit...at least for this trip. 

   

Tippet ordering a tall vanilla latte with soy 

       

Tippit, Jodee and Kristin

(Tippet is Jodee's "adopted" dog; who really lives with her next door neighbors), but Jodee is just crazy about him!

I had such a wonderful time with Jodee and all of her friends, the hike we went on and the drive to Mt. Evans...she should me so much hospitality and I really fell in love with her little town.  I'm hoping she can join me on another leg of this trip, but if not, I'm confident we'll hike together again.

So, I left Evergreen around 10:30 am and headed WEST....my original plan had been to go to Rocky Mountain National Park for three or four days, then Aspen for a couple of days, then back to Crested Butte....but I changed my mind (that's nothing new!) 

I don't know if many of you know about the Pine Beetle infestation that has damaged thousands of trees in Colorado.  When you drive along I-70 from about Copper to Vail, you'll just be sick seeing all the hundreds of acres of dead pine trees.  It's even worse around Winter Park and is also killing trees in RMNP.  Some of the trailheads and parking areas are closed due to the fact, they're cutting these trees down. It's a huge and horrible problem; with all those dead trees the fire hazard is so much worse; and once the trees are gone, erosion will begin.

So, I decided to go some place I've never been before....

         

The drive is a long one...a little more than 6 hours from Evergreen, but so beautiful.  The photo on the left is of South Park, the middle photo is of Western State College in Gunnison (a beautiful campus), and the photo on the right is of Currecanti Recreational Area.

       

I'm in Telluride! 

The drive and finding my camping spot took until 6:30, so I didn't have much time to hike.  I started on this hike (photos above), but when I got to a certain point, there was a sign saying the trailhead was closed due to damage on the trail.     

           

So, not having time to start another hike before dark, I walked around their cute little downtown area. Luckily, most of the stores were closed; just a few open along with a bunch of restaurants.  I did buy a Telluride Trails guidebook, but that was it.

This stream runs right by the camping area and is at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  It's a magnificent waterfall, that you can see from town.

         

I drove down to end of town to road at the base of the falls to take these photos.

    

Then I went for a walk along this stream that runs in between the campground and the road.  The big mountain in the photo on the right, sits above where the campground is.

       

My tent is all set up for the night, and I'm about ready for bed....or I guess I should say "sleeping bag".

I've not yet figured out which hike I'm going on tomorrow.  There are so many in this area!

**************

7/15

This morning I jumped on the gondola and rode it up to the ski area, got off and hiked around for a short time.  The sun was out, and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.

      

Then I got back on the gondola, and rode it part way down the mountain to Mountain Village; the ski village (different from the town of Telluride).  It was a typical ski village; lots of overpriced shops, some that weren't even open for the summer, and major construction going on EVERYWHERE.  Last summer I briefly stopped in Vail Village, to find the exact same thing.  I pity all the people staying the super-deluxe hotels with all the noise of jack hammers and backhoes in the background.

This view is looking down from the gondola onto the mountain where so many of the mega-homes have been built (this mountain is on the back side of the ski mountain; you can't see them from Telluride :). It's kind of sickening to see some of these extravagant over-the-top homes, knowing that a bunch of them are only used part time, and all the clearing of the mountain that goes into building just one of these SUPER-SIZED monstrosities.

          

I did think these phone booths were kinda cool; one is painted like art (I thought of the cows in KC and the clowns in Sarasota) and the other one actually looks like it has a working phone in it...kind of an antique!

   

This angel was all carved from wood...very cool.

   

This is what the Mountain Village looked like...I skipped taking photos of the construction, hotels, conference center, and tons of little ski shops.

             

I was looking for "Boomerang Road".  It's actually only used by mountain bikes and hikers, taking you all the way down from the village and depositing you at the far end of Telluride, but next to the path that wanders next to the River and goes all the way through town.  So, that's how I got back down to Telluride.

My next hike started about 6 blocks from the campground, so I drove my car back and parked it next to the tent.  This is a very popular trail called "Bear Creek" and leads to Bear Creek Falls.  It's straight up, but on a very wide path and lots of people and dogs were hiking the trail.

  

It's pretty much in the forest until you get closer to the top, then the views open up to the surrounding mountains.

               

                     

The falls were beautiful and the nice, cool and wet spray felt good.  My shirt was soaked where my backpack had been; the hike being all uphill and the sun shining warmly down.  But I'd only been at the top about 15 minutes when the big and dark clouds floated over.  It was time for me to head down anyway, and I'd only hiked down about 10 minutes when little raindrops began to fall.

This was the view when you looked the OPPOSITE way from the falls; you could see all the way down into the valley and the mountains on the other side.       

         

There aren't as many wildflowers here as in CB, but here are some I don't think I've seen before.

 

I almost missed these little tiny green butterflies down in the dirt; they looked like small leaves at first, but they were all just hanging out together, or mating or something.  Anyway, they were neat looking.

              

As I neared the bottom, I took another trail, noting that it went closer to the campground.  Evidence of Beavers were around this trail and little lake I walked by...I walked slowly and quietly hoping to see the actual Beavers (or hoping this area was staffed by Convention and Visitors Bureau paid Beavers), but I didn't see any.  (Good for the Beavers!)

I couldn't believe how tired my legs were.  The trail had quite a bit of elevation gain and then loss, but I was hoping to go on another hike later this afternoon.  I walked (very, very, slowly) back to the campground, and changed into my chacos.  Then I walked downtown...uh oh!

 

I heard someone mention a brewpub...uh oh.  So, I found it, asked if it truly was a brew pub, and they said it truly was.  uh oh.

So, I sat and looked at the menu (I should mention, I have enough food in my car to live in Colorado for about 6 months, instead of one) and ordered a "Powder Night Espresso Porter" ummm ummm good, and since I was being bad, I ordered Nachos.  I enjoyed my dinner and beer ...ummm ummm good, outside on the deck and people watched.  The "bad" just went to worse... I bought a pint glass from Smugglers that says "beer with an altitude" (really cute, and will add it to my collection).  And then kept walking around town, stretching out my oh-so-tired-legs and also bought a t-shirt and a cup of coffee.

Finally, I walked back to the campground.  The rain has now finally stopped; it was never a downpour, but dark clouds loomed since I left the falls, and between the weather and my tired legs, I chose not to go on another hike. However, the sun has popped back out to make it a glorious night.

A few words about the town of Telluride:

My preconceived ideas were that the area, mountains, rivers, etc. would be magnificent, but the town would be just another Aspen; filled with expensive shops, beautiful people, high end cars driving around, a no restaurants I could even afford to eat in! 

But, I'm happy and delighted to report, that it isn't any of those things, except magnificent scenery.  There is a diverse group of people in town; ethnicity and age wise, tons of families with little kids, lots of backpackers, hikers and bikers, blue collar, white collar and yes, some that appear to be mega-rich.  There's a wide variety of shops too....I even found a really cool vintage used clothing store.  And the Parks and Rec, who run this campground that sits in the forest but close to softball fields, soccer fields, a hockey arena, a skate park and a little fishing pond for kids, makes it affordable to camp here...it's cheaper and better than Rocky Mountain National Park!  Soooo NOT Aspen....yeah!

Just some of my thoughts about Telluride.

I've decided which hike I will do tomorrow...and I hope my legs are up to the challenge....it's a much longer hike than today's was, with greater elevation gain and loss.....but I can't wait!

 

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