2. Adventure…Colorado 7.2007


so this morning I was out of camp by 6:30am and am in Montrose at a Starbucks (working on this website and deleting most of the 504 emails I had!)  After leaving Starbucks I drove through Ridgeway and then through Ouray, which has a lot of mining history and mountains full of unusual colors, lots of old mining places and unfortunately a lot of damage done by the miners.  Still it's an incredible place to see.  I'd never been over the pass that goes south between Ouray and Silverton....whoa! not for faint of heart.  It's amazing!


I drove through Silverton, not stopping, but went on down the highway to Andrews Lake, where I spent two nights.



I woke up early and started on a 12 mile hike up to Crater Lake. It was a nice hike, up and down, not too much elevation, so it wasn't too difficult.


Colorado flowers and trees are certainly resilient!  This tree was growing right out of a rock, and these wildflowers are growing right next to a small patch of snow.

snow was still on parts of the trail, reminding one that winter is never too far in the past or too far in the future in the mountains.


Crater lake was really pretty and had great views all around.


I'd met a backpacker on Friday, who told me to climb the saddle (as seen on the left photo) and that the views were really great.  I was not disappointed! 

the view was big, an amazing valley that just called to you to come explore it (the photo on the right)

After my hike up to Crater Lake, I was really tired.  I drove back into Silverton to see the town.  Danny and I had been there two years ago in September and most of the places were closed and I wanted to see what it was like.  I visited a local brewery and enjoyed a "Railroad Red" beer and a veggie burger.  I also bought a shower, ice and water.  The town was pretty disappointing.   The views are amazing from this town, and it was full of people, but the main street only had restaurants, ice cream shops, t-shirt shops and tacky souvenir stores.  (I did buy a brewery pint glass, way overpriced, and guess where they get them from?  Lawrence, KS)

the above photo is of "Engineer Mountain" as seen from Crater Lake.  A couple of people had suggested I try the hike to Engineer Mountain on Sunday...and so I did.



this is only a 6 mile hike and was rated as moderate.  It was uphill most of the way, but not too bad.  Then when I got to the trail junction, I kept going towards the top of the mountain (not realizing this wasn't part of the original hike).  I kept watching this person climbing higher and higher and kind of wondered what I was in for.  The trail got steeper and steeper until you could hold out your arm in front of you and touch the trail.  I kept going, making it through the snowfield.


the photo on the left is going up; the photo in the center and on the right is looking back down.  But going up (for me) is always easier than coming down.  Twice on this trip I have fallen going down a trail (once a face-plant off the side of the trail; the other a butt-plant in the middle of the trail) and have been fortunate to only have a couple of bruises, skinned knees and elbow.  So these were fresh on my mind as well as my body.  As I watched those ahead of me, I realized it only got steeper, including a scramble through a chimney.  Then I saw a woman coming back down, totally on her rear end.  As she passed me she said "no way am I doing that".


I had made it almost to where the brown rock turns to gray rock (as seen above) and decided to turn around......looking down...with heart beating very fast and trying to go slow and stay on my feet.

At the steepest point, I just crouched down on top of my boots and SLID DOWN...and that worked pretty good.  I ended up making it back down with no problems.  As I sat at the point where the trail was less steep, I visited with a local couple and watched above me as others who decided to go further up than me, continued to climb.  It was a really great hike, I'm not disappointed I didn't go all the way to the top (that's for another time when my fearless Danny is with me), I still saw amazing views and had a wonderful hike.

the photo above is from the front side of the mountain, looking down towards Durango.

the Columbine, the Colorado State Flower, were magnificent in this area.

So now I'm in Durango, a pretty cool town.  They have two breweries, and I've been to both!  Now I'm in a coffee shop drinking chai.

Durango is a really neat town, lots of active people and cool and funky shops.  I've visited a local bike shop; I'm thinking of buying a mountain bike.  A couple of guys at the local gear shop have suggested a free place to camp tonight that's supposed to be really neat.  So that's where I'm headed for tonight.

I've met some really neat people on my adventure through Colorado, (most on a trail, a trailhead or campsite) and the one of the things that is so cool is  no matter how long they have lived in Colorado, they don't ever take it for granted.  I've met individuals and couples who have lived here for many years or just a few, and they all have said what a wonderful place it is.  They love the hiking, the outdoors and the beauty.  They're stories are inspirational to me, and I will continue to think about these nice strangers for a long time.

That's it for now...not sure when or where my next hike is or where I'll be tomorrow.....but I'm sure it will be great.


I spent the night not too far off the road, woke up early and was back on the road by 6:15am.  My goal for today was to swim in the Arkansas River..it's been really hot and I thought it would be a good way to relax my muscles and cool off.  I went over Wolfe Creek Pass early and the views were great.


another tree growing from a rock....I'm just fascinated by these.

After coming down off the pass, I noticed a sign pointing out "Big Meadows Reservoir".   So I went exploring.   As I drove in, a beaver ran across the road in front of me, but too fast to get a photo of it.

There's  a pretty little lake with another smaller lake 2 miles above.  On my way down from the high, small lake, I noticed a beaver ducking up and down on some rocks near the road.  So I pulled over, grabbed my cameras and took some shots.  At first, there was just one beaver...then two, then three, four, five, six...all the way up to nine.  Including 3 baby beavers (with little tiny beaver tails!)  Most of the photos I took were not with my digital (that's what the photos below are), but with the zoom lens on my 35mm.  (So, maybe once those are developed, I'll post some of them.)


the stream near the reservoir...guess this is where the beavers like to play.

I drove on to Salida, a town I really like.  They have a really cool downtown (don't judge the place if you never get off the highway that runs by the town).  I got there just in time for lunch at "Amica's", the local brewery with great wood fired pizza.  Wow, this place was really neat, and out of all 5 breweries I visited in Colorado, this was my favorite.

After stopping multiple times to try to find a good spot to get into the river, I wasn't able to find a place that the current wasn't really strong and deep.  I was disappointed, but got tired of trying to no avail to find the right spot.  So I drove on. 

I was headed to Colorado Springs and had made plans for dinner with some very special friends.  I had a couple of hours before I was to meet them, so I went to the Garden of the Gods...a place I love to visit.  After "living" out of my car for past 8 days, it needed some cleaning and reorganizing.  I thought Garden of the Gods was the perfect calming, cool and beautiful spot to do this icky chore. 

After my car was cleaned up, I drove to the really cool home of Adi, Tam and Lindsey.  They are so wonderful!  I have been a guest in their home a couple of times and they are always so welcoming of a dirty hiker, short notice dinner plans, and great offers of a shower and a bed for the night.  We had a wonderful dinner at PF Changs, lots of great catching up, laughs and several hugs! 

(Adi was Lucas' first friend when he moved to Colorado Springs and has stayed one of his dearest and closest; a truly special guy!  Adi and Tam are such a unique couple, truly loving each other and embracing life every day.  They have held a special place in my heart since I've known them, but even more so now after surviving a horrible car wreck this past winter.  I'm so thankful they were able to walk away without major injuries.)

I took up their offer and stayed overnight at their place (Adi has deer that come feed in his yard every night and sometimes bears too).


I woke up early, gave Tam a hug and headed toward Manitou City.  I was trying to get on "stand-by" on the first train up to Pikes Peak.

(funny story: the first time I went to Colorado as an adult, Me and the kids met Jill and her three boys, and we went to visit Wendy and her three boys who lived there.  We drove up to the top of Pikes Peak, where I got a little altitude sickness and was terrified, both just standing on top of the mountain and driving back down...I think I rode down in the floorboard of the back seat.  All the kids laughed at me and Jill.)

 But that trip changed my whole life.  While the passes and the peaks continued to scare me for a couple more years, the mountains moved into my soul and pierced my heart, and I have never been the same.

As I stood on the top of Pikes Peak, I remembered that trip so long ago, and how at this point in my life, I have driven over so many passes, hiked over peaks, camped in the forests, waded and cleaned up in streams and rivers and taken it ALL in.....I just can't get enough.  But I feel so blessed and fortunate to have done those things.


So, after a few pictures, I found the trailhead and started DOWN.   7,300' feet to walk down; 13 miles.  The first 3 miles down are all above tree line, in the rocks and still some snow.  The photo, above on the left, was looking back up to the peak; the photo on the right was looking down.

About mile 4, you head into some trees.  These were all twisted and crazy looking.


  As I got down closer to the bottom of the trail, I could look back and see the top where I had started early that morning (photo above left) and looking down over the town of Colorado Springs with Garden of Gods near the left of the photo (photo above right).

Neat looking dandelion on the trail.

After 5 hours, I was at the bottom, with very sore knees and feet.  The view from the top of the trail was very cool.  A lot of the time, while in the trees however, you really couldn't see through the trees. But when you could, the scenes were amazing.  At mile 6, I heard thunder and the sky behind me was darkening. (Those of you who know my hiking side, know that I'm terrified of lightening while out in the mountains.)  So, I hiked a little faster and took a lesson from Danny, and "just didn't look behind me anymore"...the sky in front of me was still blue.  At mile 7 I felt a few drops of rain, but nothing ever hard enough to pull out my rain gear.  At the bottom, I hobbled to my car without the sky opening up and took one last look....way up high to the top of the Pikes Peak.

Time to head to my last brewery stop, the Bristol.  It was really neat too; probably my second favorite while in Colorado.  I will definitely be going back there on my next trip to Colorado Springs and sampling more of their beer and the food at the Blue Star restaurant next door to the brewery.  I picked up a couple of six packs, and my favorite Wilderness Guide book (a little thank you gift) and stopped by Adi and Tams for one last good bye and hug. (They were headed out on Wednesday to Telluride for a camping/hiking trip of their own.)

Although I wasn't due back in Linwood until Thursday, I knew I wouldn't be able to hike on Wednesday after my long descent down the peak.  So, I got some dinner and headed toward Kansas.  I thought since Danny was off on Wednesday,  I could make it back to spend the 4th with him.

The night sky from Eastern Colorado through Kansas was lit up all the way with lightening, my 4th had started early!



the above photos were taken at Ouray...a couple of views of this mining shack


this photo was taken near Ouray; the zoom lens was used on the photo on the right. 

Such an amazing view...there are so many colors in this one shot...and the photo isn't near as magnificent as the real thing.

wow...I thought the location of this house was very cool!  all alone, in the mountains near Lake City


I was just obsessed watching this guy climb this mountain, Engineer Pass.  Can you spot him (in the far left photo) climbing up the chimney? (He's wearing a white t-shirt)

Next he's made it up the chimney and over the first hump, down and is climbing up the last big slope

In the last photo (on the right) he's made it to the top...wow!  way cool.


this is the front side of Engineer Pass near Durango...don't see anyone on top do you?



this was a marmot I spotted on my first hike...he was looking at me and I was just looking at him

early in the morning, on this same hike, I spotted all of these elk, way high up on the mountain just eating breakfast.  It was awesome.


this was the big beaver family I watched for sooo long.  They were really neat.

my wonderful little car that never failed me...through water, dust, deep tire troughs, dust, over rocks, dust, and through the mountains, she watched

over me, was my hotel, my source for music and audio books and always made me feel safe.  She's broken the "Hill-Car-Curse"  yeah!!!!


my campsite the night before I hiked into Snowmass.  The moon was so bright for three nights in a row, it was like there was a flashlight outside my tent.

The perfect night, before the perfect place to go hiking in.

This is more of Snowmass....one of the best and most beautiful places on earth!



This was such a great trip. 

The weather was perfect, the scenery magnificent and always meeting new people makes me happy. 

The two couples on the trail, that had chucked it all and moved to Colorado, help to keep my dream alive of doing the same thing....

the fearless woman hiker...boy would I like to hike with her someday....

the terrifying roads that made me push my limits...and even in the face of fear...I did it...

the magnificent views that continue to explode in my head everyday, of the Snowmass mountains, the streams, waterfalls, all the other beautiful mountains, the canyons and the wild flowers.....

seeing good friends again and being ever so thankful they are alive, healthy and very happy...

leaving this area is always so hard for me, but this time I'll know I'll be back soon..

and with my best, fearless and favorite hiking partner...

the next adventure begins on August 4th

home   1

 vikhill@gmail.com   Wweroiweuprou                                                                                                                                                 © Vicki Hill 2024