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

Day 29 7.31
Happy Birthday Jill Fearing!

We visited a bit this morning with Talieshes making her final rounds seeing friends & finishing her packing before she leaves for Iceland this week.  The foliage is dewey now in the morningssummer is slowly starting to end.

Then we drove back to Gothic road…home for so many amazing trails.  I’m still trying to find the trail to Virginia Basin & some local at the Bricks bar told me where to find the trailhead….between the Lower 401 & Judd Falls trailhead.  So, we headed up the road to look into the forest to find the trail.  But, on the way, I mentioned to Danny that if we just kept walking for another 4 or 5 miles, we’d make it all the way up to Copper Lake.  I remembered years ago Danny saying he never wanted to hike this trail again, but he remembered saying he never wanted to backpack it again.  So, all of a sudden I wanted to hike up to the lake & we never did find the Virginia Basin trailhead anyway.  So, we just stayed on the trail & headed up to the lake. 

This flower is called Elephant Headits Talies favorite & usually grows somewhere near water.

IMG 5214.jpgIMG 5215.jpg














 I thought I remembered there were 3 water crossings.  Danny hiked between streams #1, #2 & #3 in his sandals before sitting down to dry off his feet & change back into his hikers.  Unfortunately….

IMG 5195.jpg



…there are 5..not 3.  One he could get across ok…but the last one he had to put his sandals back on.  I was really glad I had my new quick dry hikers…I was able to just blow through the streams easy & fast.


The skies were looking dark & stormy as we finally got to the lake & then it started to lightly rain.  We put on our rain jackets & pack covers.


My pano pic of Copper Lake & East Maroon Pass (across the mountain on the left).

IMG 5236.jpg

Danny checking out the trail that leads up to Copper Pass or over to Triangle Pass…but we weren’t headed there today.

Looking up towards Triangle Pass.

After the hike, we had happy hour at Bonez then headed out to another boring (not) evening in camp with a fire & a beer.  Talie came over to chat for a bit…she’ll be pulling her trailer out tomorrow & storing it at a friends house, then leaving for Denver for take off to Iceland on Friday.  What an enjoyable evening!

Day 30 8.1
I said good bye to Talie this morning with a giant hug & good wishes for an amazing backpack adventure in Iceland!  It was so good to get to spend time with her at camp & on the trail this year!

IMG 5261.jpg

Rain was predicted for today so Danny & I started the day with breakfast at Paradise.  As we ate our yummy food the rain poured down outside.  Then we walked around town for a bit shopping for me a new hat.  My visor doesn’t keep my ears from getting sunburned, so I was looking for something a little larger.  But, I’m probably the most picky person about hats, so I never found one that worked for me.  We decided to make the drive out on Kebler to look at the Aspen forest.  Id been to a pull off picking up firewood earlier this trip & had noticed a tiny trail going up into the forest.  So, we took that trail as far back as we couldwhich wasnt very far, but it was a pretty walk among these wonderful trees & rain soaked foliage.

IMG 5262.jpg


IMG 5265.jpg


IMG 5274.jpg


IMG 5275.jpg



We made a trip back to camp & hung out for awhile.  I washed my hair & cleaned up.  The sun popped out so we drove to Teddy’s trail…the short little trail near Snodgrass I’d discovered earlier this year.  Danny enjoyed the walk as much as I did…always fun to discover a new trail.  The flowers were still out & the views were so nice.

IMG 5289.jpg


IMG 5284.jpg


After our short hike, we moved the 4Runner to where it overlooks the valley with the horses & had a make shift picnic in the car & just enjoyed the view!  In spite of this mornings rain, wed still managed to get our feet on the trail, but not a lot of miles in.

We drove into the Brick to meet up with Rick & all enjoy a beer & some good conversation.  Rick is going through the same tooth-journey-misery that Danny is, so they discussed the challenges & annoyances of flippers & implants.  It was great to visit with Rick again & Im glad the two of them got to chat too.

As evening fell, so did the clouds on our surrounding mountainsso pretty even if obscured a little.  

IMG 5299.jpg


Id gotten a sort of panicked text message earlier today from my friend Cheryl.  She & her husband Ron were on their way back out today but didnt have anywhere to camp & were worried that by the time they got here, they wouldnt find any.  She wanted to know if they could camp by us.  So, once they got to CB, they came out & set up their tent in between ours & the next guys.  But by bedtime, they decided to stay at their daughters place for tonight.

Day 31 8.2
We finished off our breakfast burrito ingredients this morning.  Then once again, headed to Gothic road to begin hiking another favoriteRustlers Gulch.  As we passed RMBL (Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory) we noticed a mama & baby marmot on the fence.  Marmots are big in & around Gothic & some of the researchers that visit each year, come here to study the marmots.  I’d even made up a story to tell Claire about marmots (based on a news article I’d read earlier this trip) & then went on a few hour hunt for a stuffed marmot, a marmot t-shirt & a marmot book for Claire.  That was a big fail with no marmot anything found!  It would probably be easier to find a real marmot (they’re everywhere!) than to find what I’d been looking for.

IMG 5319.jpg

Danny & I crossed the river & hiked the mile road up to the trailhead.  Then it got lovely…once again with wildflowers everywhere, lots of water crossings & all surrounded by these outstanding mountains!




Standing in a field of flower power!


Normally, there’s a big water flow & fall you can see from here.   This year, it’s all still under the snow.

Still so many snowfields up high!

Indian Paintbrush everywhere!

Two years ago there had been a huge mudslide in the middle of the night along this trailin summer.  This year, so many avalanches happened in this area.  Danny & I were super fascinated by this huge tree that had come a long way down the mountain in this years avalanchebut we think it got so far because it traveled over where the mudslide had beenso nothing substantial was in its path.  Its huge & we couldnt quit staring at it trying to figure how far down the mountain it had traveled.

The trail had been 9 miles of pure joy, a lot of snow hiking, so many fantastic flowers & our last hike together for this trip.  We drove back by camp & broke down the screen tent since it was dry.  The juried art festival starts tonight, so we walked around & looked at a few booths.  So many wonderful artists show their work here.  One of my favorites is Sidhe Designsshe creates such unique & beautiful jewelry.  Ive gotten to know Michele a little over the years, so we went by her booth & chatted for a little while.  Then we went to eat at the Last Steep (yes I had another CB Crush).

We went back to enjoy our last night in camptime flies when youre having fun & this time with Danny always goes by way, way too fast!

Day 32 8.3
Breaking down camp & packing everything away is always a chore & its never a fast enough process.  Ron & Cheryl had come back to camp late last night, so we had some coffee with them this morning while packing our gear away.  Once the 4Runner & the Thule were stuffed as they could be, it was time to take off.  Id decided not to leave anything behind in camp just in case I didnt come back to CB.

When I first planned this trip, it was Dannys idea that maybe I stayed into August.  I booked him a round trip ticket, but in the back of my mind, I thought I might end up going back with him  & cancelling the flight.  Then a few days ago, Jill called me to ask if I was going back with Danny or staying in CB….there was a possibility she would come out here after he left, if I was going to be here.  That was a decision maker for me, so I told her I’d come back to CB after I took him to Denver.  But, Jill also had her own things going on…she was loaning her trailer to her middle son, Max, to live in while his new house closed in Shreveport.  So, she had to take the trailer there, then go back to Dallas & pack up her car, then drive to CB, which takes her 1.5 days.  There seemed like a lot could change with all those logistics, so I took all my stuff with me & would just have to find a new camp when/if I got back to CB.  

Danny & I needed to be in Confier around 2 today.  We’d taken too long breaking down camp, so we missed our opportunity for a shower in Gunnison.  We ended up just stopping on the other side of Kenosha Pass & cleaning up & changing clothes…it was kind of funny, even if we didn’t come out the cleanest; but we were cleaner than before we took the roadside bath.

I have a very tiny family.  The only cousins I knew closely were on my Mom’s side of the family (no surprise there…I hardly knew anyone on my Dad’s side).  I’d spent so many holidays when I was a little girl with Sue & Gary & their parents.  And their parents were always so good to my Mom….always.  I’ve seen Gary a few times in the past few years as I’ve traveled both through Arizona (where they live in the winter) & through Colorado (where they built a beautiful summer home in the trees three years ago).  But I hadn’t seen Sue for a long time…she lives in Virginia…a state I’ve yet to visit.  So, Sue & her husband Rick had been through Kansas City, but of course I wasn’t there.  So, when they planned to visit Gary in Colorado, I said we’d be there.  And, I was really excited to connect with them all again!  We had wonderful time sitting on Gary & Ann’s fabulous deck, having lunch, laughing & talking old times.  Then we all went out to dinner before we parted to head into Denver.  What a wonderful day it was to remember such good moments we all had together as kids & to catch up on what our own children & grandchildren are doing now.

IMG 5529 (1).jpg

This may not be the best picture of each of us, but it was such a wonderful moment when we all broke out laughing!  Love this!

IMG 3389 copy.jpg

Danny didn’t really want to sleep in the overstuffed camper or have me sleep sitting up in the front seat in the cell phone lot.  Gary & Ann had offered us a place to sleep at their house, but we’d have needed to leave super early to make the drive to DIA for Danny’s crazy morning flight.  So we got a hotel.  It’s rare that we do this.  Partly because I’m as picky about hotel rooms as I am hats (I still don’t have a new hat.) I’m not staying in a cheap flea bag hotel that I have to strip the old fashioned icky polyester comforter off the bed or wear my sandals in a disgusting shower.  So, I made a reservation at Aloft near the airport.  I like their rooms, their linens, their decor & they are always super clean.  We showered first thing, then Danny needed to get to sleep so he could get up early.  He offered to take the airport shuttle so I could stay & enjoy the room after he left…super sweet!

Day 33 8.4
I was so sad our time had ended together for this year & felt worse for Danny he had to go back to his regular life.  I stayed at the hotel a little while longer, enjoyed another shower, then decided I might as well head back.  The first thing I did in the hotel parking lot, was reorganize the 4Runner back to some semblance of organized.  I still had Danny’s big duffle & the 2nd cooler, but I managed to uncover my bed, pack all the beer in someplace, move stuff back into the front seat floor & got it back to where I was happy with it all.  I stopped at Argonauts to buy Danny some beer he wanted me to bring home, since I wasnt sure Id be coming back through Denver on my way back home (then I had to find a place for all that beer!)

I turned my music on & headed back to Gunnison…it’s about a 4 hour drive.  I went to the laundromat & got all my clothes clean then laid them out in the car to dry.

Now it was time to find camp again.  As it gets later into August, and past the weekends, camping gets a little easier to find.  I drove back to Washington Gulch to see what was open.  The site next to our old one was open, so I set up my little tent there.  Then I just chilled out & read awhile.  I had to move into the 4Runner after a little bit because a storm blew through.  

I drove into town & ate the Sherpa Cafe.  All the meals I’ve had in the past years there have been good, but today’s was not.  Ick.  Cheryl texted me & wanted to know if I wanted to meet her for a beer, so we both ended up at the Brick, enjoying a good big dark beer & conversation.  They were leaving early in the morning, so we said good night & good bye…we’d see each other back in Lawrence sometime.

So, no photos from today.  I was melancholy back in camp, wishing Danny was able to be out here more often & for longer periods of time.  But, I was so grateful for the time we had together, the good weather & that he got to see so many wonderful wildflowers!

Day 34 8.5
Happy Birthday Danny!  Really kind of sad he couldnt spend his birthday in Colorado, but instead had to be at work.  I Facetimed with Claire & Emma this morning.  Then I slammed dunked some nuts & dried fruit & took off up to Mt. Crested Butte.  I bought a chair lift pass & rode up the mountain.  The hike to the summit is only a couple of miles long, but with significant elevation.  Ive done this hike quite a few times, so it wasnt new, but its always beautiful.  

The trail gets steep & rocky…pack the poles away & use those hands!

Whetstone Mountain.

View from the top over Crested Butte.

The view looking over the East River Valley.

At the summit.

Looking back down the trail.


Even above tree line & in this rocky area, wildflowers grow.

A little pika chirps by some wildflowers.

A great view of Gothic mountain, Avery & in between Gothic road as it passes RMBL & into the area where there are so many hikes I love!

really want to hike up that valley somedaylove this mountain even though I dont know anything about it.

The summit had been pretty full & ironically, it was a big family from Kansas.  So, I didn’t stay long up there.  Once down off the rocky part of the trail, you can hike a short trail up to another viewpoint.  It always surprises me that most people never go on this trail.  There was no one up there when I sat on the little bench to look up to the people-filled summit hike.  

Also, if you hike just below the ski lift, there’s a small view point with prayer flags that blow in the wind with a view of both towns…I love this special little spot!

I rode the lift down, taking video that I promised I’d send to Claire (trying really, really hard not to drop my phone!)  I did a little shopping on the mountain both for a hat & anything marmot (the animal; not the outdoor brand), but ended up with nothing.  I made it back into CB in time to eat at Momo’s again….knowing Jill can’t eat there, I figured it was my last meal…yum! yum!  I ended up just walking around time for a long time; sitting on the benches people watching; checking out everything in the toy store & making my last rounds convincing myself I didn’t need more stuff.

It was Monday again, so I went to Bonez for happy hour.  I met a super interesting woman at the bar who has lived in CB most of her life.  We talked about the changes, what it was like for her to grow up there, etc.  Really nice conversation.  Then I walked down to the concert & sat with my friends, listened to the music, watched everyone dance & chatted the evening away.


home   1   2  3  4  5  7  

 vikhill@gmail.com                                                                                                                                                    © Vicki Hill 2021