5. Summer in the Mountains of Colorado…June, July, & August, 2022

Day 29 7.20
I had a rare & late morning in campalways nice to slow down a bit.  But, I was frustratingly on the phone with live chat with my web hosting company for an hour trying to figure out my tripscribbles issues.  We finally got it resolved & I was able to publish what I had so far.  When Im stuck back home in Kansas this winter, re-building my website is going to be my number one project.  Yuck!

But, done with the frustrations, I was more than ready to hit the trail.  I took the long drive out Kebler Pass to the Three Lake Loop trail.  It’s not a long hike, but still works your muscles & a good one to start later in the day.  I have one knee that’s being a bit cranky, so another good reason not to go on a super tough hike today.

Lake #1

Always love this view of the West Elks & Lost Lake.

Lake #2

I don’t take too many photos of myself, but I took this one for my friend Mary Ellen in Flagstaff.  She’d asked me if I’d done any “wild” swims yet, so this encouraged me on this day.  It was truly more of a dunk than a swim however, but was cold & refreshing.  I hadn’t changed into swim trunks so I went in just in my hiking shorts & bra.  Mary Ellen turned 60 last year & to commemorate her birthday, she spent the year doing 60 different swims…some of them in the wild rivers & lakes in the west.  I need to do more wild dunking & possibly swimming too!

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Lake #3

After the hike & grabbed a slice of pizza from the Stash then went back out to camp.

But, when I got back to camp & a new spot had opened up…so for the 4th time, I decided to move.  This one is super private, but doesn’t have the great views of both mountains the others have had.  But it will do just fine & because of the trees, I was able to put up my hammock!

I could tell an afternoon storm was coming, so Id been as fast as I could setting up my new camp then breaking down my old one.  Sure enough, I got finished before big winds came up along with some heavy rain & hail.  I sat in my tiny camper & dumped photos from phone to computer & then read until bedtime.

Day 30 7.21
Last night was night #3 of not sleeping much.  This happens at home all the time & has for most of my adult life.  Im always amazed however, at what my body can do on so little sleep; & I feel super grateful for that.  But at some point, I just want to sleep!

Today, I decided to do a really long hike (for me anyway).  I started at the Oh-Be-Joyful trailhead.  Ive done the hike to Blue Lake (its even more difficult than todays hike) several times & hiked up in the valley probably 20 times.  But, today Im headed to a new place high up in the valley called Democrat Basin.

The trail starts down on the Slate River.always super beautiful.

There are several really pretty waterfalls along this trail.

Once you hike higher up into the valley, the views of the mountains are magnificent!

After several miles, the trail splits…one going to Blue Lake & the other towards Democrat Basin.  It was so much bigger than it looks from above.  I’ve gazed into this basin for years…sometimes from Daisy Pass & sometimes all the way from Scarp Ridge.  But I was so surprised how huge it is when I stood inside of it!  Lots of waterfalls up here too.

I looked around & hiked into the basin, until I reached both my turn around time & mileage I’d set for the day.  There’s more to explore, but I’m so glad I finally hiked up here.

The views hiking back down the valley are super gorgeous too.  That’s Gunsight Pass on top of that red mountain in the distance.

 I’d hiked almost 14 miles & thought a burger sounded good, so once back in town I went to SLAP burger for my afternoon/evening meal.  Then I sat in the back of camper, powered up my laptop, & worked on the website to get week 3 finished.  Tonight, Im super tired!

Day 31 7.22
Today I was giving another trail a second chance.  I discovered this trail a couple of years ago, & when I was done hiking it, I said I wouldnt choose to do it ever again.  Never say never.  So, today Im on the Point Lookout trail.  Its three trails that connect; mostly for mountain bikers.  It starts up the Caves trail which switchbacks up straight up.  Then it connects with another trail, which goes up AND down!  Then finally connect with the Point Lookout trail which has the absolute worst & long switchbacks that go up the mountain.  The flies loved this trail too, so I had to stop along the route & spray down with bug dope.  But, the views towards the top are super nice!

Mariposa Lily

The best & most wonderful thing about this trail are the fields of Mariposa Lilies.  I’ve never seen so many in one place.  These lilies seem like one of the more rare wildflowers & you’ll just see a few scattered around.  But, I passed this field that was just covered in them!  That was spectacular!

I made it to the top, just as it started to rain a little.  I was super exposed so I didn’t stay long & hurried to get down the mountain & back into the trees.  That’s always nerve wracking when you’re trying to out run a storm.  But, I did make it back into the forest just as the booming & lightening & harder rain began.  I just kept hiking, knowing the last 1 1/2 miles was again, exposed.  But, when I got out of the trees, the storm seemed to settle down, the booming stopped & I just didn’t look up to see if there was lighting (I was pretty sure there wasn’t!).  Then I took off towards the open trail, down the switchbacks & to the 4Runner.

And, I decided two chances was enough for this trail.  It now goes on my short list (of two) of trails I'm pretty sure I’m not hiking  again.

I drove back to the 4way & made a salad in the back of 4Runner.  At 4:00pm I walked over to the Visitors Center to pick up my participant packet for tomorrow’s adventure.

The skies had cleared by the time I headed back out to camp, so I made myself a cocktail & enjoyed some nice hammock time!

Day 32 7.23
I had my alarm set early this morning, made a quick cup of coffee & left.  I was participating in the Living Journeys Summit hike today.  This is a huge community event in Crested Butte.  Living Journeys helps cancer survivors in so many ways.  They bring meals & fresh organic fruits & veggies each week; help financially while the patient is going through treatment; etc.  I’ve heard nothing but great things about this organization.  

My friend Talie, is one of those survivors.  She has an amazing life story…she’s lived in both Alaska & Antartica; she has authored two books—Climbing Higher & Still Going Strong—; she’s been a guide; part of SARS here in CB; spent many New Zealand summers backpacking; raised money while in Nepal when they had an earthquake while she was visiting there; backpacked all over the world; solo hiked the Colorado trail & was featured in the Crested Butte newspaper this week…& is definitely one of my heroes!  And this she did all before she was diagnosed with cancer.  Now she is learning to live & adjust to life with just one of her own legs & the other is a high tech but heavy protheses.  Talie has always participated in the Living Journeys Summit hike…but this time is so much different.  She has been training with Adaptive Sports for this hike for weeks & today she was doing it.  Inspiring & amazing everyone who saw her on the mountain.

I expected this hike to be super crowded because of the event…it’s usually kind of crowded anyway & today was Saturday.  I jumped on the lift as soon as it opened.  It’s funny…I don’t really like going up the ski lift…I always have a death grip on the bar; but going down isn’t scary at all.  The lift would take me within about 1 1/2 miles of the summit.  I jumped off the lift, put my pack on & headed up. There’s too much rock climbing to use poles so those stayed behind.  

The summit is way way way up there.

The trail right before the rock climbing begins..  Yep, that point at the top is the summit.

I’ve summited this mountain probably at least 6 or 8 times.  It used to be harder when there were no trail markers on the rocks…it was just a free for all how you made it up to the top & worse, how you made it back down.  

But early this morning, there were only two people in front of me & I recognized them right off.  I swear I’m not a stalker!  Swear it!  But years ago, I started following on FB a well known Saloman sponsored mountain runner from Crested Butte.  Her name is Stevie Kremer.  She is so tiny, always wears pearl earrings & her calves are bigger than her thighs!  Not only have I followed her mountain races all over the world, I knew she had a little boy named Hans.  I’ve seen her in CB in town & while I’ve been hiking the trails & she has blown by me in the most casual way.  It was fun to hear her coaching her 4 year old son up to the summit…his first time to summit Mt. Crested Butte.

I ended up passing them as they had slowed for his short legs to go over these big rocks.  At the top I confessed my ‘fandom’ for her racing.  She was gracious & kind & we both laughed about how we dreaded the climb back down…it’s always so much harder than going up.

There were volunteers located in the center of the rocky hike up & also at the summit to make sure everyone was ok.  He took this photo of me at the top.  “I summit for Talie!"

Views from the summit.  Beautiful mountains (which I could just look at for hours trying to pick out all the ones I know & have hiked) & the little town of Mt. Crested Butte & the ski resort.

Wildflowers showing their perseverance growing in the middle of the crazy very rocky trail.

Look down from the top at the trail going back.

As I made my way slowly down the rocks, a young teenage boy with his family was making their way to the top.  He looked at me said I was doing the “TBS”….the Technical Butt Scoot.  I said yes I was & so happy I had the padding to make it work!  The trail got super busy as I hiked down.  

Talie & her team from Adaptive Sports & close friends as she’s just a few steps away from meeting her summit goal.  Practically every step I took on this hike, I thought of Talie.  Such a difficult feat to take on; yet as I told her later, everyday she does difficult & hard things most people never do.  No words can describe the admiration of I have for this amazing & inspirational woman!

Passing Talie & her group as she made her way to her goal was fantastic.  I took some group shots of them all together to send her later.

Enjoying the music, food & scenery during the afterparty.  

Everyone knew, Talie most of all, that coming down the mountain would be more challenging than going up.  I waited until she was back down to give her another big congratulatory hug.  She was tired but still smiling big!

I was ready for quiet time at camp, a drink & some book time.

Day 33 7.24
After coffee time in camp, I drove into town to the Farmers Market.  I hadnt been yet this year, so I strolled through both the food & art booths.  I bought a breakfast sandwich at Butte Bagels & took it back to the 4way to eat.  I couldnt decide what I was doing today…monsoon season has begun so the weather is first & foremost in my mind everyday.

I decided to follow a trail called Happy Hour that I’d tried to hike earlier this year, but was turned around by weather.  It’s just a short trail that intersects another trail I hike.  Mostly used by mountain bikers to get from a trail on the mountain, then you can connect into town.  I knew it was mostly in the trees, so if the weather turned, I’d be ok.   I switchbacked up through the Aspens then finally into the open.  Looking up at the summit peak I stood on top of just yesterday.

Some flowers are done blooming & with the end of wildflower season near, some are just coming out or changing colors.

A gentle rain started before I made it back to the car, but another storm rolled in for a brief time.

It felt like a super mellow dayalmost like a rest day.  I went back to camp, worked on the website, read a book & celebrated National Tequila Day with one of my own yummy camp cocktails.

Day 34 7.25
There was no doubt about the weather todayit was dark & stormy when I woke up.  The campsite I’ve been out for the past couple of nights, is perched above the campsite I really want to be in when Danny comes out next week.  I had a great view of it which is why I grabbed this one when I could.  So, when I rolled out of bed this morning & saw the couple packing up their tent, I patiently waited & decided to move…hoping this will be the last time.  My screen tent & backpacking are soaking wet…no one wants to pack up wet gear.  I grabbed my other dry tent out of the Thule & walked down the hill & set it up in my new spot.   I was hoping the sun might come out long enough to dry my other two tents, but instead it started to sprinkle right when I got them down. I stored them in their bags & threw them in the back of the 4Runner.  Then I left.

Most every morning as I leave camp & drive by this rock, at least one Marmot is sitting there sunning.  It’s a lovely simple way to start my day.  I roll down my window, drive very slow, stop & greet the Marmot.  I don’t think he/she cares.  I really miss my cats so maybe this is a poor substitution, but one I enjoy.

doubted Id get any hiking in today, so I drove the 30 miles south to Gunnison.  I filled up on gas, did a Walmart & grocery store run, then took myself to lunch at the High Alpine Brewery.  Wowthey had a BA stout on tap!  That was a surpriseso I ordered that & 1/2 a beet & goat cheese saladthe same thing I always get when I eat here.  I had two women sitting on either side of me at the barone much younger & one about my age.  And, so, for 2 1/2 hours the three of us talked.  The young one, a research student at RMBL, was waiting for cancelled flights to be rescheduled out of Gunnison.  I asked her about an elusive trailhead I've been trying to find for about three years.  She told me all about it, exactly where to find it, what was in store for me on this backcountry hike & what I would see.  The other woman shared her story which included a narcissistic husband whom she’d just filed for divorce from after 45 years.  Wow…it was an interesting afternoon.  

They had a super interesting cocktail menu & I was tempted to order one right then & there.  But, then changed my mind.  The sun had popped out, so I drove south of town to Hartman Rocks…such a cool place!  I’ve camped here several times & seriously thought about just staying tonight.  But, the camping looked kind of full & I had a new spot back in CB.  My goal for driving down here though, was to spread out my wet tents on the rocks, hoping they’d dry so I could put them away until Danny comes back out.

So, that’s what I did.  It took less than an hour for the hot sun & warm rocks to dry my gear & I just sat & read in the meantime.  And, looked around.  I really do think this is an awesome place!

The sun stayed out just long enough for my tents to dry & for me to get them packed away.  As I was driving back into Gunnison, it started to rain again & the skies further north into CB looked dark & stormy.  So, I stopped back at the brewery & ordered one of the whiskey drinks.

By the time I left, it was pouring.  I drove back up to CB…now drying out from todays storm & drove into my new home for the next couple of weeks.

And, right by my campsite, is the elusive Prairie Smoke flower I’ve been looking everywhere for.  I think it’s a sign I’m in a good camp spot!

My views are back!

Day 35 7.26
It’s a beautiful morning this morning…enjoying coffee, the views & the sunshine.

These are the marmots I pass every morning & sometimes on the way back to camp.  Yes…I do stop & chat with them.

So, today I’m headed to find the trailhead yesterdays bar conversation directed me to.  And, it was right where the girl told me it was.  And she told me what to expect on this rarely hiked trail (maybe not rare for the students & researchers, but most tourists don’t hike it.)  It’s not a long trail, but about 2,000’ elevation gain.  She told me there are a ton of trees blown down that I’d have to climb over.  Everything she told me was right.

I climbed & climbed through the forest.  Then got to a section with all those downed trees…it was hard to see where the trail was.  I’d put a tracker on my phone as well as turned my inReach on.  I felt like I had to pay super close attention to this trail.  

I wonder what the history is of this cabin????

The trail near the basin, just goes straight up.  Its not very big & theres much more exploring to do here.  But, to be honest, I was a little nervous on this trail the whole hike.  I looked around for a bit, not seeing the trail continue further  then turned around & headed back down.  But, Id finally found this spot!  Virginia Basin…so pretty with the red rock!

Hiking back down this trail, I noticed these boxes.  I think they are bee boxes & RMBL is doing research on them.

The view of Gothic Mountain on the Virginia Basin trail.

By the time Id made it back down to the trailhead, my legs were scratched, cut & a little bloody.  Climbing over multiple down trees had taken a toll.  But, I’m so glad I found this hike!

I drove up Gothic road to my old camping spot (no summer camping allowed there now) & got out everything to take a shower.  All was good until I was wet & soapy, then the flies attacked.  I got done fast, wrapped in a towel, & jumped back in the 4Runner.  I stopped near Snodgrass at a parking area with a nice view, finished getting dressed & ate lunch.

Talie invited me to her place for dinner tonight…wow!  Lobster tails & artichokes…really yummy!  The conversation & food were wonderful!

I visited with Luke on my way home to camp…always so much fun to talk to him.

Alpenglow…so perfect.  Love this view from outside or inside of my little camper car.

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