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

Day 17 7.19
Cheryl & I were both up early & I made coffee for the both of us.  We sat & visited until around 11; it was really nice.  Our neighbors had left by then, so we put up a tent Cheryl brought & set out some chairs to hold her camp spot while wed both be gone today.  Its Fridaythe day the crazies arrive in town.  I had the chance to FaceTime with Claire & Emma againpoor Emma has had a temperature & is not feeling good.  But while Miss Rose was putting Emma down for a nap, I read to Claire.  She loves to be read to & I love doing it.  I ate a snack in the car, since Id skipped breakfast.  Danny & I visited over the phoneI so wish he was here now, getting to enjoy all the same wonderful things Im enjoying.  As I was sitting in the back of Camper with my hatch open (which is how youll always find me when Im parked at the 4Way,) my recent neighbors Sue & Scott were in the same parking lot & saw me & stopped by to chat for a minute.  They were on their way to the Black Canyon, then back home so Scott could work for a week, then back on the road for three weeks towing their Harleys & going to Sturgis.  Happy Travelers!   They were really nice & I’m glad we met.  I ended up meeting up with Cheryl, who wasn’t feeling very well…bogged down & eyes swollen from sudden allergies.  We had a beer at the Brick & just chatted.  Then I took off to go for on a new hike & she left to go buy allergy drugs.

Teddy’s trail was one I’d just read about a couple of days ago on the Travel Crested Butte FB page.  So, on my way back to the car, I stopped in at the VC to ask about it.  The guy had to look it up & questioned me that didn’t I really want Tony’s trail?  No, I wanted Teddy’s trail.  He searched for it & told me how to find it.  It’s another short trail, but it’s late in the day & I just wanted to get my feet on dirt & not necessarily on mud or in water or snow.  But it was a lovely little hike filled with wildflowers & views of the mountains that sit behind the East River…love these views & there were so many wildflowers!

Don’t know what these are, but haven’t seen too many of them on the trails I’ve hiked.

And all kinds of Columbine.

These mountains….

And Green Gentian taller than me!

I drove back out to camp to enjoy the evening to try to avoid any camper ‘snuggling’ up to me tonight.  I decided to park Camper in front of my tent on the dead end road.  It’s not as level as where I normally park it, but I’m okay with rolling to the right during the night….that’s better than having someone possibly watch me pee.  Cheryl & I enjoyed a nice evening in camp, but she still wasn’t feeling to good & had drugged herself up with about every kind of allergy meds available.  I asked her not to die in the night from all the medicine….it was a joke.  I felt tired & didn’t even open my book.  I talked to Danny & wished him a happy weekend with no XPO (the horrid lousy awful crappy company he works for) & at 100 degrees, really too hot to work outside on our property.  His niece is up at the house, helping out Phyllis as she has medical appointments yesterday & more next week along with her chemo appointment.  Danny has dental surgery on Tuesday.  But the day we both are waiting for is next Saturday, when he flies out here & I pick him up in Denver.   We’re both looking forward to wonderful week of no responsibility, great hiking, good beer, new & old friends but mostly just spending time together…just the two of us.  I can hardly wait.

Day 18 7.20
I couldndecide what I was going to do today.  We probably had 20 people driving into camp last night looking for a spot…but no one stayed.  Cheryl is still not feeling well.  We enjoyed coffee together this morning, then she took off to have breakfast with her daughter then heading to Gunnison to pick up some things she needs.  

Im still trying to work up the courage to cross the river to hike the road to Poverty Gulch.  But, I also know itSaturday & if I move my car, I’ll come back to something & someone camping in front of my tent. And, I am also being gingerly nagged by my website that Im 18 days behindI havenwritten one thing since Ive been out here.  My plan was to wait until I had a crappy weather daylike a big rainy day then I was going to write (that was also my plan for showering).  But the weather has been practically perfect..& the only times it wasnt, the icky weather didnt last long & it was followed by wonderful sunshine & blue skies.  After Cheryl left for town, I decided I was in the mood to write.  So, I pulled out my laptop, downloaded about 800 photos, grabbed some water & started to write.

Cheryl & Conner popped back into camp unexpectedly around 12:30.  Cheryl was feeling bad enough to head back to Kansas.  I felt so bad for her; she really wanted to make this trip work.  Shes been trying to be a solo traveler for a couple of years now & while she travels a lot, this was her first trip all alone—no kids, no spouse, no friends, no dog.  I hope she stops over somewhere awesome on her way home (that means it must be somewhere in Colorado) & has a good nights sleep before doing the boring drive back to 100 degree Kansas.  Cheryl hugged good bye & took off.  Conner left their tent up & a camp chair & said her & the boyfriend would probably, maybe be back out tonight to camp.

I sometimes feel bad on beautiful days when I choose to not hike…like I’m wasting the moment.  It feels like time goes both slow & fast out here.  It’s a gift to not have to rush, to get to take your time, not to even have to know what time or date or day it is.  But as I sit here & write about the 18 days that have gone by since I’ve been here, it feels like a flash.  And next year seems too far away to think about spending so much time away from here.  But also since I’ve been writing all day, the suns been out, a storm blew in fast & hard & I watched the tents bend to almost breaking & dust blew everywhere with only a tiny bit of rain.  And now the sun is shining again, the sky is blue, & the temperature is dropping fast as the sun falls behind the mountains.

But, it’s been another enjoyable day. I’ve gotten to re-live the past 18 days here & look through all my photos again.  It’s definitely not a bad place to sit & write all day.

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And while I can’t publish this post until I’m in town, I’m ready to quit for the night.  I just opened my last really big stout & I’m enjoying it.  Then I’m going to crack open a new book & start to read for the night.  I am one lucky lady to get to be in this special place…for sure.

Day 19 7.21
I drove into town to publish the website & walked around a bit.  It was early afternoon & the sun was already hot.  I decided to go hike Baxter Gulcha trail very near town.  Its not a difficult trail; alot of its forested.  But it begins by climbing up switchbacks & my body was not liking any of it.  I wasnt sure what the problem was, but I was struggling.  After about an hour of super slow going.I turned around.  I cant tell you how much I hate thisit wasnt the weather, or high water or a blocked trailit was just me.  In hindsight, after looking back, I think I hadnt eaten enough in the past couple of days.  I do struggle with nutrition & eating well when Im traveling & cant seem to ever figure it out. But I managed to snap a photo before I left the trail.grrrrr.

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I went back to camp to set up the new tents.  I was past my 14 day limit & was trying to get past the system.  I set up the new ‘castle’ tent in preparation for Danny’s upcoming visit…so happy to be back in our old place!  It was so hot, the sweat was pouring off me & I was still not feeling great.  Cheryl had left her tent in the spot next to me, thinking Conner would come back.  But I got a text saying she wasn’t, so I moved it over next to my big tent.  After all was done, I walked down the to the river, found a great spot to bathe in & did just that!  The water wasn’t freezing, but felt good on my hot sweaty dirty body.  I turned in early tonight having not slept well the previous nights.  I was clean (mostly) & tired!

Day 20 7.22
I always enjoy my slow mornings watching the river, the wildlife & coffeeso thats how I started this bright new beautiful day.  I was able to FT with Claire once near townnow she is sickcaught whatever Emma had.  Then I headed towards Gothic to hike the Lower 401 trail.  Its mostly a bike trail, but hikers can play on it too & there arent very many of us that do.  Its mostly in the forest, with lots of ups & downs, but not a lot of climbing like heading up a mountain.  I lost the trail for a bit (Ive done this exact same thing on this trail before) that goes around some private property.  There was a ton of avalanche debris near the trail!  The mountain bike club had cleared most of it off the trail, but it was incredible to see what had come down the mountain.  In the meantime, the skies were getting dark in front of me & sprinkles of rain were coming down from the sky.  I decided to short cut the trail by about a mile, taking the private dirt road down to Gothic.

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After the hike, I drove into town & ate the Last Steep.  I ran a couple of errands & then headed to the park for the Monday night concert.  When I got back to camp, there was a note from the National Forest Service on my tent…the box was checked that said I had 14 days in this campsite…or so I thought.  This story continues later…

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I read, then tucked in for the night hoping to get a good nights sleep.

Day 21 7.23
I started the morning with a super yummy breakfast at Paradise Cafe.so enjoy this food & their wonderful staff!  Then I was headed to hike my second favorite trail in CBmaybe almost tied with my first trailits the Upper 401.  And its one of the best mountain bike trails in the state.  So, while you have a lot of bikers on the trail, I rarely see another hiker.  The views & the wildflowers are fabulous & I was so excited to get on this trail.  I’d been concerned though, with the water crossing before the trailhead.  And when I got there, I laughed out loud.  It was shallow…shallow as I’ve ever seen it.  So much for ‘anticipatory fear’…taught me a good lesson.

I was also hopeful my body wouldn’t fail on this trail.  But mostly, I was just so happy to be here & I did feel really really good this morning.  It’s a little over 8 miles…lots of going up through the Aspen trees, then the trail opens up to big huge views above Gothic Valley!

This is what this trail is about….mind blowing gorgeous-ness!

And, this view & place at the topso very very perfect!

After the hike I was on Cloud 9!  It had been a great day, amazing views, tons of wildflowers & happy mountain bikers woo-hooing down the mountain or stopping to say hello!  I know I’ve mentioned like a hundred times how much I love those bad ass, tough but super friendly athletes.

I drove into town to the Brick & had a late lunch.  Tracy, the bartender there who also loves big stouts, said they’d just loaded up Abraxis…a rare beer.  It’s rated as one of the top big stouts in the world.  Danny & I managed to score a few bottles this past year, waiting in line for it to be “released” only to discover this year’s batch wasn’t quite as good as last years.  But, never having had it on tap, I ordered one from Tracy.  

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Once back out at camp, sitting reading & watching the river roll by, I got a text message from Talie…she was going to stop by later.  Yippee!  She is a wonderful person to visit with…such a interesting life!  And one of those ‘wise’ people & super positive…I could visit with her for hours!  After our chat, we hugged good bye & planned to meet up for a hike in a couple of days.

A pretty perfect day!

Day 22 7.24
After coffee at camp, I drove to town & visited with Jill on the phone.  I also tried to FT with Claire & Emma, but Claire’s still sick & didn’t feel like talking much.  I was a little zombie-ish this morning…for the past 5 nights I haven’t slept well.  I’ve been an insomniac for most of my adult life & I’m always amazed at how well my body can do on little sleep, but after 5 nights it starts to catch up with you.  I went to the library to return & check out more books for both me & Claire.  Then I ate at Momo’s for lunch…yum!  I drove out Kebler Pass & up to Lake Irwin to look up at Scarp Ridge.  

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The lake was crazy busy for mid week (although this photo doesnt reflect that).  I drove back out then took the Ohio Pass road to the Lily Lake trailhead.  It’s not a long hike…always muddy though but usually not busy either.  Both held true for this hike today…I only passed four older women near the trailhead—they’d turned around because it was too hard for them & were disappointed there weren’t more wildflowers along the trail they did hike.  I was also passed by a trail runner who stopped to warn me about all the mud & we visited for a few minutes until her watch began to beep for her to move on…otherwise, I had the place all to myself!

I found wildflowers.

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& little waterfalls along the trail...

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a quiet & peaceful small mountain lake….

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& a trail filled with mud along the way...

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but a convenient stream at the end of the trail to clean up those messy hikers!

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Once back in town, I went to Bonez for my favorite happy hour.  Oh those yummy margaritas!  Then I headed back out to camp to enjoy a lovely evening….

but when I arrived I had a nasty note from the NFS…I needed to get out of camp…NOW!  or I would be FINED!!!  There was lots of underlining & exclamation points added & arrows pointing to the 14 day limit.  I was over my time & I was trying to trick the system…all that is true.  It was mid week & there were some empty camping spaces, so I didn’t feel guilty for anything I was doing.  In 13 years of camping out here, I’ve never received one note much less two.  The note I received two days earlier, marking the “14 day limit” must not have been saying I could be here 14 more days, it was some kind of two day warning note.  So very UNCLEAR, but it’s our government at work, a very understaffed one too, but all the same I was rattled.   I had never seen a forest service vehicle or talked to a ranger, so I don’t know how they knew I’d over stayed.  I called the phone number on the paper & left a message, because I was still confused about the two notices.  But, they never returned my call.  I knew I’d be out of cell service tomorrow, & didn’t know if they’d really mess with my stuff & give me a fine.  Plus, tomorrow was Thursday & I was hiking with Talie, then on Friday I was headed to Denver.  If I didn’t find a new spot tonight, I’d be out of luck by the time we got back Saturday afternoon.  I had been so excited to have this old spot for Danny’s arrival. The skies were getting dark & I figured it would be raining within the hour.  So, I sort of freaked out for a bit.  

I texted Talie & asked if there was a spot out on Washington Gulch anywhere near where she was camped?  In the meantime, I just took off driving out there to see for myself.  Just as I drove up, she texted me back & said there was space next to her.  She can tell you, I was not relaxed at this point (shed never seen me slightly crazy).  But she parked her truck in the spot, then I drove back to camp, broke down everything & shoved in the back of the four runner as the sprinkles fell from the sky.  I really was sad Danny wouldnt get to camp out here, but Id done the best I could in trying to hold it for him. But I had really, really, really enjoyed being here.

Talie helped me put up the castle & I shoved everything else I’d stuffed into Camper underneath the 4Runner for the night.  Then I finally relaxed.  Talie was so helpful…reminding me, if I took the time to look up, of the wonderful views I now had from this camp.  It’s so great when you can’t seem to settle yourself sometimes, to have that friend that is calming & positive.  That’s always a wonderful gift & one I needed tonight.

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