7. Colorado here I come! (& bringing my face masks)…June & July 2020

Day 43 7.20
While out at my new campsite, Id been keeping a close eye on my perfect site.  But, I didnt want to waste anymore time finding camps, so I decided to get my pack ready & head out for a hikebut just then

I noticed the huge RV that was parked there, moved in her slides.  She slowly packed up her camp & I got ready to pounce (I know, I have a problem).  I really wanted this site for when Danny came out so it would be perfect.  She eventually left & I took my chairs & table to hold the site.  I called Jill & asked if shed rather have my soon-going-to-be-vacated site & she said she did.  I waited while they broke down their camp, then in about an hour, they showed up & I took down my tent & moved up the road to my new site.  Yay!  I was finally done finding, moving, finding, moving camps!  I had this spot for 14 days & that would include the whole time Danny would be here.  The wildflowers were all gone & what might have been there had been trampled over by all the huge RVs that camp here…my big noisy lovable bumblebee was gone too.

Home again.

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It takes Jill a couple of days to acclimate & she was feeling awful.  She usually stays her first travel night in Colorado, but hadn’t done that this time, choosing to stay in Texas —a closer drive.  Greg had business to attend to, so he left early to drive to town for a better connection.

I had errands to run so by the time I got those done, it was too late to go on a very big hike.  So, I chose one closer to town called the Upper Upper loop.  This trail skirts around the bottom of Mt. Crested Butte so you get different views of the mountain, plus across the way, views of Whetstone.

There were lots of pretty flowers along the trail.

And a tunnel of trees.

And some unusual nature things built.

I found a Green Gentian taller than me!

I hadn’t seen any other hikers on the trail, but a couple of groups of young boys learning how to mountain bike…its a really rocky trail in places.  I think they were probably groups from tourist families up on Mt. CB where they have all kinds of adventures & learning opportunities.  I love to see young kids out here learning to hike & bike!

I came to a trail intersection…three trails, one which was closed.  A biker stopped at the same place & I asked him if he knew where one of the trails went called the “Bridges trail” & he did.  So, I took it.  I was close to town, had cell service so I didn’t think I was breaking any ‘off trail’ rule.  And it was a wonderful surprise!  Although I could hear construction noises outside the forest (they have torn down part of this beautiful forest to construct a new road that leads to new humungous homes being built…UGH!  They need affordable housing here…not more McMansions…rant over) this was such a beautiful Aspen grove.  CMBA, the local mountain bike association, has built all these small little bridges throughout the forest…I counted about 7 of them.  The sky was growing darker as I suddenly found myself in a spot with numerous trails spurring off the main trail….then I couldn’t tell any longer which one was the main trail.  

I turned around & headed back to the Upper Upper trail, vowing to hike the Bridges trail from the other end & connect the two…someday.

I was practically in town when I got back to my car, so I headed to the Brick for dinner & a beer.  While there, one of my fave bartendersNikki was working so it was nice to catch up with her.  Then I got included in a conversation with a couple of her friends (they are all huge horse lovers) & a suggestion for a new hike was discussed.

Back at camp, Jill was still sick, but Greg popped into my new screen tent to send a work email (I have slightly better service up on the hill than they did), then he left to go back to the trailer.

I had Happy Hour & read.  I finally saw the comet tonight & the Milky Way!  I tucked in bed a happy girl!

Day 44 7.21
I had an early call from Claire this morningshe looked worried & said her Nanny was choking!  But I could hear Ms. Rose coughing in the background & telling me she was going to be ok.  Claire was so sweet as she told Ms. Rose to breathe deep & slow & even demonstrated the correct way.  Emma climbed up on Ms. Rose & gave her a big hug.  It was cute to watch but I was grateful Ms. Rose was ok!  Then as Ms. Rose & Claire went off to do something, Emma got the phone & took me inside her dark playhouse…I couldn’t see her the whole time, but she was whispering to me…it was so cute & it’s rare I get to FT with Emma.  She has changed so much in the past six months….the longest we’ve gone without being able to go see the girls.

Jill was still sick; I hate it that the altitude affects her this way, but if the past has been any indication, she’d feel much better by tomorrow.

I drove out to Kebler Pass then to Ohio Pass road to hike the Swampy Pass trail that was discussed yesterday at the Brick.  It’s not a long hike, but I was the only one on it.  It strolls through Aspen forests with pretty views of the Castles over in the West Elk Wilderness.

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A mule pack train was getting ready in the parking lot when I got back.

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I drove back to camp & made a salad for lunch & read.  I decided to drive down the road a couple of miles & hike to Long Lake for the evening.  It’s only a couple of miles on an easy road & way less crowded in the evening than during the day.

Fresh berries!  ripe for the picking & eating!

I have no idea what’s going on here, but thought it was a super cool “Bee-Ball”.

Long Lake with the sun going down.

I had a long FaceTime with Danny on the way back to the trailheadcant wait until hes here.  Went back to camp & finished another book!  Hope Jill has a better night tonight & we can start to hike together soon!

Day 45 7.22
I didnt sleep well last night, so captured this pretty sunrise this morning!

Then I went to the Paradise Cafe for breakfast before my hike.  

The Upper Lower Loop (not to be confused with the Upper Upper Loop—no creativity in these names) starts off Slate River road near the Gunsight Bridge & starts up the Gunsight Pass road for about a mile.  

I’m one who loves rock cairns.  Glad I took this photo on the way out, by the time I came back here, some cairn-hater & torn them apart.

Such a nice view of the Slate River as it meanders down the valley.

The Upper Lower loop connects to the Budd’s trail & then to the Lower Loop trail…a great big pretty loop!

Theres old mining crap in a lot of places around here.  Its their history, but Im not sure this old stuff should still be littering the land.

A view of Mt. Crested Butte with Peanut Lake in the foreground.

Yikes…this is pretty close to town!

A mama & two baby deer running across Slate River.

A pretty new flower I havent seen yet this year.

After my hike I washed up in the river.  Id had some leftovers from breakfast I still had in the 4Runner, so I stayed at the trailhead & sat with the hatch open & ate them upturns out cold pancakes, bacon & fried egg aren’t too bad leftover for lunch.  Then I drove to town & had a beer at the Brick.

Then Luke called.  He’d hit a bear the night before…he said it was a huge bear.  The bear was ok, & so was Luke & Matt, but the car is totaled….drivable, but not the nice pretty BMW it was before.  Luke has put thousands of miles on his car driving all over & he loves his car.  I can relate!  It’s an older BMW, but serves him perfectly…I’m so sad for him.  I think he’s going to drive it for awhile longer…not ready to part with it yet…even with a big bear dent in the hood!  But, so very thankful the guys are ok…& glad the bear survived too.

Jill was feeling good all day today, but her solar wasn’t working in her trailer.  Her & Greg spent the whole day trying to fix it & calling places for some guidance & help.  They did end up going out for dinner at the Stash & even brought a couple of slices back to camp to share with me!  They stayed for a little bit, but were ready to turn in before too long & it had started to rain again…so they went back to tuck into their trailer.

I had just been to the library today & picked up a couple of new books!  Yay!  I love the little library here & while it’s not open as usual, I can request a book & pick it up at their side window.  So, I was tucking in with good book for some night time reading!

Day 46 7.23
Claire FT me this morning with a sad look on her faceshe said her Daddy had to leave for work before she woke up & didnt get to eat breakfast with her.  Then she got a big smile on her face & said she decided her & I could have breakfast together instead!  I love this girl so much!  I hate eating breakfast at camp or at home (not out at Paradise though), but especially early in the morning….UNLESS, it’s with a 5 year old sweetie whom I miss so much & is happy because of her solution!  Bring on breakfast!!!   Then I read her some stories from our selection of books! 

Jill finally was ready for a hike & she wanted to do the Oh-Be-Joyful trail & wanted me to go with them!  I think she really enjoyed this beautiful hike!  I’m so glad she’s feeling better & we’re on the trail together!

Feeling good!

Taking a snack break by the crystal clear water.

I love this view!

Our turn around point!

PS:  You have to hike a mile road just to get to the trailhead.  Ive driven the road once (they dont allow it anymore) & hated every minute of it.  But, true to male testosterone, Greg told me he could have driven the road no problem.  What I’d tell you?  It was no surprise to me.

We all went to dinner at Bonez & sat outside for an early evening dinner.  They were tired & headed back to their trailer.  I stopped by the local bookstore, Townie Books, to check out their huge selection of jigsaw puzzles (Im worried well all be in lockdown again) & visit with the owner, Arvin.  He has twin girls the same age as Claire & weve become friends over the years.

Back at camp, there was beautiful Alpenglow on the mountains tonight!

Gorgeous colors in tonights sky!

Day 47 7.24
We had a ton of rain last night!  Heavy clouds this morning are still lingering.  But, I saw a bunch of elk this morning while making coffeealways love that!


Jill told me last night, they were packing up camp today.  They needed to dump their tanks then they were headed to her brothers house, about an hour away & would spend the night there.  She planned on coming back Saturday—Greg was playing golf at the local course, & that night they would just camp with us in our spot, since finding a new campsite on a Saturday night would be tough.  We planned on having dinner out together, after I got back with Danny from Denver. 

I spent the morning getting out Danny’s gear & setting up the inside of the tent.  The ‘Castle’ tent was now ready for his arrival.

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I ate lunch at Paradise, wanting to try their hamburger & friesyummy!  Then I took off for late start hike on Kebler Pass called the Three Lake Loop.

Before I got to the trailhead, I found lots of sheep!  It’s sheep time out on Kebler Pass!

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Then I started the hikeone Ive done several times before.

Pretty little waterfall along the trail.

View of Lost Lake from above on the trail.

One of the three lakes.

Lost Lake

I drove back to camp, passing more sheep on the way back.  

Is this Henry the hummingbird that keeps buzzing me?

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I had only eaten 1/2 my burger at lunch, so I finished the rest of it for dinner.  I watched 6 elk in the meadow in front of camp.  I read but bundled up as the temps seem to drop more than usual.  

Day 48 7.25
I left camp at 5:45am & made it to Camp 4 Coffee right when they opened at 6am.  I love seeing this perfect little town all lit up & quiet as it is only in the early early morning.

I hit the road with strong coffee by my side.  I drove over Cottonwood Pass & by the Taylor Reservoir hoping to spot moose this early in the morningbut no such luck.

I drove & drove & droveit always feels like a long hard drive to Denver.  Its 4 hours of up & down & up & down & being careful not to be killed by people passing coming towards you!  Its frightful to see a long line of cars going in the opposite direction…except for the one coming toward you in your lane….Yikes!

I had some errands to run…Argonauts Liquor Store & the grocery store.  Danny’s flight was early so I just fit it all in.  Then I was at the airport & so anxious to see him!  

We’d only seen each other 2 weeks out of the past 4 months.  During most of lockdown, Danny spent by his mothers side while she was in Hospice care.  For 7 weeks he & his sister & brother did some very difficult caregiving.  They were living in a non-Covid world.  Sad to be loosing their mom, but doing the right thing.  She had many family members—mostly grandchildren, coming to visit in those last weeks. 

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And then he was here!!!  I spent most of the day driving back to CB, so no more photos.  We stopped & had a bit of BBQ for lunch, but not our regular place to hang out & no going by one of his favorite breweries.  We wanted to get back to Crested Butte to have dinner with Jill & Greg.

It rained hard practically the whole way back to Crested Butte, making a long tough drive even harder.  I let Jill know when were close, but they had a new plan.  We all met at the Visitors Center so they could say hello & good bye.  They changed their minds about going out to dinner & had made plans to stay at an RV park in Gunnison so they could leave super early in the morning…Greg needed to be back home early Monday morning for work (or at least close to a really good internet connection).

I was bummed to have spent to little time with her, but I know she loved having Greg with her.  

Danny & I went to the Brick for dinner & a beer.  He was so happy to be back here…it’s not only my happy place, but he loves it here too.  

After dinner, we went back to camp & he unloaded his gear in his Glamping tent.  I had a special beer planned for our first night together here, so as it rained outside, we sat inside the tent & toasted that it was good to be together!

Day 49 7.26
I asked him if he wanted to hike today or take a day offHike was his answer!  He didnt want to miss a day!  I made us a big breakfast in camp & we talked about the weeks upcoming hikes Id planned.  Im really not a dictatorDanny doesnt like to figure out or choose which hikeshe just wants to go!  

For our first hike, we went to Copley Lake.  He busted out in front of me, as he would every hike we did all week.  He so strong & tireless, I was the one lagging behind him a few times.  He was up for going off trail after we made it to the lake….Yay!

Happy to be together!

So, we hiked past the lake & through the meadow & to a pack trail, which soon turned into a road.  

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Up or down…we chose down.  We never saw a private property sign, but I suddenly heard a noise off the road & in the woods.  We stopped.  It turned out to be a man who said “the trails this way”…I replied, “what trail?” like the clueless hiker I was.  He explained he was making a trail that went down to Lake Irwin.  Our road would take us through private property, so we got off the road & went towards the trail.  But, there really wasn’t much of a trail.  I would have never done this by myself.  There were some red diamonds tacked to some trees above us, so we looked for those instead.  Sometimes both of us would be going in different directions trying to find either a trail or a marker.  We eventually found our way to a trail.  What would have been a little frightening by myself, was fun with Danny.

Bushwhacking & trying to find something like the trail

The views were great though!

So happy to have this adventurous hiker with me!  He’s so much fun to hike with!

Nice scenery.

We eventually made our way out of the forest & onto a road in the townsite of Irwin.  I know it takes a different type of person to live in this area.they get over 400 of snow in the winter & can only go in & out by snowmobile.  You have to be very self sufficient.  And, I know they dont like anyone that doesnt belong here.  We were very careful to stay on the road.  When the first car drove by I stopped them & made sure were werent on a private road.  We headed down through this little town space with cool little cabins & big views all around.  We never found the lake, but I enjoyed this even more.  The lake is always crowded & though Id been to the first part of this town, Id never been this far back.  Its a pretty cool little place.

The little hut when you enter the Irwin Townsite….it’s kind of a quirky town.

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A beautiful show of wildflowers.  I’m so glad their still blooming for Danny to see!

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I knew once we were out of the little town, where we’d end up & that there was a mountain bike trail we could take back to the car.  So, that’s what we did.  Hiking back to the car on the Old Wagon Road trail that parallels Kebler Pass road.  We had hiked 7 miles today & my mountain goat husband wasn’t even breathing hard or tired!

Danny & I usually eat out at home about once a week.  When Im gone, he doesn’t go out much…even in non-Covid years.  But, when we’re out here, he likes the same places I do & we really enjoy the people we’ve met here that run these restaurants.  And, we have to pack it all into a week.  

Todays pick was Bonez for Happy Hour.  We both really enjoyed our food & their yummy margaritas.  It was getting close to time for the late afternoon rains, so we headed back to camp, tucked inside his cozy tent, where I had another super special beer waiting for us!

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