8. Utah, Nevada, California & Colorado…May/June/July.2018

Day 54 7.13  
This morning I was just hanging out in camp anticipating Jill’s arrival!  I was so excited for her to be joining me again in Crested Butte.  I can’t remember when this tradition began, but I’m so glad it did & that it continues.  This was her first time pulling her little teardrop by herself on a long trip & her first time dispersed camping too.

IMG 3602.jpg


IMG 3618.jpg

She set up camp then we went to town.  We walked around & went in & out of a few shops then went to Bonez for happy hour…they have a great happy hour & Jill had never been there before.  She takes 2-3 days to acclimate & is a really good girl about drinking lots of water & no alcohol, but that didn’t stop me from having one of their yummy margaritas!

As always, we spent the evening sitting around camp (no campfires…still a burn ban on) & catching up & laughing, laughing, laughing!

The sky was magnificent as the sun set over the Butte!

IMG 3605.jpg


Day 55 7.14  
We enjoyed a beautiful morning in camp & talked & talked.  This is acclimating time, so we do a lot of sitting, talking, eating out & just enjoying being in camp & these amazing views.  Late in the afternoon we ate at Ginger Cafe…a tradition to always eat there & walked around town to check out the new shops.  We ran into our camp neighbors in town so I introduced Jill.  Later that evening in camp we all visited. (EEEK!  no pics today!)

Day 56 7.15 
This morning the skies were cloudy so we sat in Tramper (Jill’s trailer’s name) & chatted.  We stayed here all morning & then made lunch in camp too…we never lack for things to talk about!  Later we went into town, did more walking around & ate dinner at The Last Steep…yummy!  Then we headed back out to camp to sit & visit some more.

Day 57 7.16 
Today was the day we were going to hike!  We ate breakfast at one of our fave places, the Paradise Cafe…we both love their food & the staff is awesome.  Our neighbors were leaving today & I was moving into their spot.  I really enjoyed getting to meet Ching & Jerud & will definitely follow them as they travel the country full time.  They toured Jill’s trailer before they left & I bought a pair of Chings unique earrings she makes & sells on Etsy.  After we waved goodbye, I moved my tent out into the bright sunny big spot that would now be my new ‘home’ while Jill kept the trailer in it’s original spot (she has it leveled pretty good, so who wants to do that again?)

The hike we were doing today was right down the road & is a short easy hike, but a good one for Jill to start with & a new one!  It’s to Long Lake…a sweet little mountain lake that sits right outside of one of the neighborhoods along Washington Gulch road.  It’s also the place where all the locals come to swim, kayak & bring their SUP’s.  Today though, because it was later in the afternoon & overcast, there wasn’t anyone here but us!

IMG 3628.jpg


IMG 3636.jpg


IMG 3633.jpg

We’d hiked by some raspberry bushes on the way up, so on the way back, we at a delicious wild snack!

Tonight the storms blew in & it rained.  She went to her trailer to rest up & I crawled in my 4Runner to read…tomorrow we’d be on the trail early.

Day 58 7.17 
We were shuttling cars today…a pretty long shuttle.  But, it’s super nice to have two vehicles—it opens up possible hiking you can’t do with just one.  So, we drove down past Gothic & parked Jill’s at the bottom of the 403 trail; then we were in my car driving back past our camp & up Washington Gulch road to the top of the 403.  Jill’s done this hike before, but only to the ‘viewpoint’.  Today, we’d be hiking all the way down to Gothic road.

This is one of our favorite views!

IMG 3653.jpg

And this is such a special place along the trail.  A beautiful Memorial Bench with heartwarming words inscribed to remember a son, father & husband.  The pic above is the view you see from the bench.

IMG 3655.jpg

This awesome pic is from the highest point along the 403…pretty spectacular!


IMG 3680.jpg

The wildflowers along the trail were beautiful!

IMG 3685.jpg

After the hike, we drove back to retrieve my car, then dropped it at the campsite.  Happy from our day of hiking, we drove into town & went to Bonez again for an early dinner, then back out to camp.  Tonights sky was super gorgeous!

Day 59 7.18 
Last night after we got back to camp, Jill realized her refrigerator in her trailer was hot & hadn't been working.  Late into the night though, after I’d gone to bed in my 4Runner, she’d studied her manual & thought she got it working again.  She had already lost all her food & my 1/2 1/2 had been in there too. So, I took off early in the morning & went to Rumors for a cup of coffee, ran by the post office & returned library books.  

The plan was to shuttle cars again today, but this would be a much shorter trip since both trailheads were along Gothic Road.  We met where the pavement ended & dropped her car at the end & took mine to the top.  This is what we like to call the scary road, but today wed be parking before we had to drive the shelf.  

Emerald Lake is so beautiful & we enjoyed beginning our walk looking down onto it from the road above.

IMG 3697.jpg

At the time, we didnt know what the name of this brilliant pink flower was that seem to be everywhere!  Id just been here the week before & this flower hadnt yet bloomedit was beautiful!

IMG 3685.jpg

Ive hiked the 401 trail from the bottom a ton of times (out & back) & from the top several times as well (it was one of my hikes just last week), but I’ve never hiked it from top to bottom since I didn’t have a shuttle.  I was so excited to show Jill this beautiful trail!

IMG 3710.jpg

I later learned this flower is called Fireweed & my friend Talie says it means the end of summer in the mountains (sad face!)

IMG 3714.jpg


IMG 3719.jpg

We’d hiked over 7 miles…my longest hike with Jill & she did great….no altitude problems at all.  We were both stoked!

We picked up her car along Gothic road & drove into town to eat pizza at the Secret Stash…OMG they have great pizza!  Then we went to Third Bowl for the best ice cream in the state!

Jill stayed in town for a bit to make some phone calls & do those internet things you can’t easily do at camp & I drove on out to camp.  As I pulled near our site, I noticed an older gray Toyota truck with a new Rockwood pop up camper behind it…I knew right away this was my awesome & amazing friend Talie!  It’s a long & special story, but I hadn’t seen her last summer because she’d broken her knee & was helicoptered to Denver hospital only to find she had cancer.  They suggested her leg be removed below her knee, but she said no.  She spent last summer healing & recovering with her sons in California & reading about nutrition & holistic healing all while completing a long series of radiation treatments.  Talie has been traveling to New Zealand every November for quite a few years, to hike their summer while it’s winter here…& she wasn’t going to be stopped this year.  She was back on the trails by December & had drastically changed her eating to a Ketogenic diet.  She flew back to the states for tests in February, where her results still showed cancer, but by the time she came back to her doctors in California this spring, her test results were different….her cancer was gone.  She is the most positive person I’ve ever met…we’d corresponded & talked on the phone during this trial & she remained positive throughout the whole ordeal.  I love my visits with her…she’ll never know how much she gives me. (My travel project for Emma is a little doll that travels with me on my trips & gets her photo taken on many of my hikes…I named her Talie.  Her attitude & outlook on life & zeal for adventure, is part of what I’d like my grand girls to know.)

So, I was so excited to pop down & say hi & give her a big hug.  Talie has lived out of her truck-Grayjay- for 16 years, except when she’s in NZ then she lives & travels out of a blue camper van —Bluejay.  So, this pop up camper is her new home while she’s in the states & she happily gave me a tour…it’s very very cool!  I invited her to come up to our camp later & meet Jill.

Later that evening, the three of us hung out in the screen tent & visited…it was wonderful!  Jill gave Talie a tour of Tramper & then we walked down so Jill could see the inside of AJay.

As darkness fell, I tucked into my 4Runner & was so thankful that Talie randomly picked this place to camp in & that I got to connect with her again.  Jill’s heard so much about her & it was great they got to meet.  I read until I was sleepy, then turned out my lights & looked at the beautiful night sky being so grateful to be in this special place with special people!

Day 60 7.19 
While we were having coffee in camp this morning, Jill told me she didnt think her solar batteries were getting enough suntherefore that had caused the problems with the fridge.  So, we decided to move the trailer to my spot where it would get much more sun from early in the day.  This was not a quick process, but Jill did it all on her own.  She didnt want any help, & I really dont know anything about the process anyway.  Talie had popped over with her tea, so the two of us visited & visited while Jill got the trailer in the place she wanted (she said she learned a lot of lessons during this hour long process!)

But disaster was in the aironce Jill got the trailer moved, shed thrown her mat outside the steps in front of the trailer where it always sits, not realizing there was a hole underneath it.  Id walked down to Talies for a few minutes & when I came back, Jill was sitting on the groundshed stepped down from the trailer & sprained her ankle!  Just when we were getting started hiking.  So, once up off the ground & back in the trailer, we discussed what to dohiking today was not going to happen.  We went into town & to Paradise for breakfast & waited to see what happened with the ankle. We drove down to Gunnison, showered, went to the store to buy food & in & out of a couple of our favorite shops.  The ankle was getting worse & Jill bought a brace & a wrap & then we headed back to camp for some RICE for the ankle.

She was doing okay in the pic below, but a couple of hours later, it was swelling & bruising & aching more.  PS:  That Cider was horrible!

IMG 3722.jpg

We discussed going back to Gunnison to the ER, but she decided to wait it out in the morning.  I left my Jetpack so she’d have internet service if she needed to call me during the night. We said good night, both of us hoping the ankle would be better in the morning.  

Day 61 7.20 
I checked on the patient this morning & had coffee in Tramper with her.  She thought her ankle was doing better, but wanted to spend the day in the trailer, with it iced & resting.  I thought that was a good idea.  Jill & I have been through these kinds of things at least twice before.  Last year while she was here she had an allergic reaction & got sick.  Then this past spring, she got sick to her stomach for three days while we were in Palo Duro Canyon.  No matter what ailment she has, she insists I go hiking anyway.  I know once shes set up with everything she needs, shell be okay on her own.

Talie & I visited for awhile in camp enjoying the lovely morning, then she went into the trailer to wish Jill a speedy recovery.

Then, I went hiking & Jill stayed in her sweet little trailer with a purple & yellow swollen foot.

I thought the trail I was on was only a couple of miles out.  Id been on it one other time with Talie, but evidently wasnt paying too much attention.  This trail starts just on the south side of town, so I knew Id be close & wouldn’t be gone long.  Its called Baxter Gulch & I ended up hiking 8.5 miles!  Its mostly forested but with views of the town & its wonderful surrounding mountains!

IMG 3725.jpg


IMG 3728.jpg

And, further up the trail, wonderful views of Whetstone Mountain…really awesome!  I was practically alone on the trail except for a couple of mountain bikers & two other random hikers.

IMG 3744.jpg

Not knowing any more about this trail & now I’d hiked far enough in to not have any service, I decided to turn around & hike back the way I’d come.  My first stop in town, was to the gear store & asked about the trail.  Yep…it went a lot further, but I’m glad I turned around when I did.  I texted Jill to make sure she was fine & she was.  So, I went to the library & picked out more books for Claire & one for myself.  Then I went to the Brick for a burger & a beer.  My friend Rick was there, as was everyone else in town it seemed, but we visited & chatted for awhile.  There were 4 guys next to me from various parts of Colorado & were curious about the beer I’d chosen…& so another interesting conversation begins!

I stopped on my way back to camp for the endless purchases of ice & water refills. It was another beautiful night & I was so glad to see Jill doing much better.  We caught up on our day, then said good night, both of us feeling much better about her injury.

Day 62 7.21 
We had coffee in camp & discussed what our options were.  Then we headed out to breakfast at Paradise to think it over more.  Jill thought, with her brace, she could do a short easy hike on a good surface.  I chose the hike down by the river & so thats where we went.  She did great & it was a beautiful day!  YAY!

IMG 3761.jpg

After the hike, we ate ice cream at Third Bowl.  Then we headed back out to camp, so she could elevate the ankle & we could make dinner.  We had a huge wind come up tonight & that sent us both scrambling into our respective rigsbut in about 30 minutes it was over & we could sit back outside.  Talie came up to visit & see how Jill was doing.  I enjoyed a World Wide Stoutso yummy!  Ive been drinking this cheap Port almost every nightjust a little before bed.  But, I love my stouts & super enjoyed tonights selection!

Day 63 7.22 
I sat outside for a long time this morning, while Jill was doing stuff inside her camper.  I love the warm sun as it shines in camp during the morning.  This was Sunday, which means the Farmers Market in CB & we were trying to locate a certain jewelry artist that wed heard has a booth at the market.  She wasnt there this week, but we still had a good time walking around just checking it all out.  They serve these super yummy popsicles made with Paonia cherries…that was my breakfast & it was fantastic!  After our time at the market, Jill headed in & out of some stores looking for a new hat.  She also bought a piece of jewelry from the missing artist in one of the stores along Elk.  Meanwhile, I was still hungry (that popsicle didn’t go very far), so I got a piece of pizza from the Stash…so very very good!

We headed out to Gothic to the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL) early afternoon.  Jill had never done the tour & since we weren’t hiking today, I suggested she might enjoy learning more about this unique place.  My friend Greta who works there, was the one who gave us the tour & it was great…just the three of us.  I’d been on the tour a few years ago, but learned even more today.  (I was actually offered a job here this summer…probably the best job offer I’ve ever had.  It was a hard decision, but I knew if I was going to see California the way I wanted to, I couldn’t work there this summer.)

IMG 3768.jpg


IMG 3769.jpg

We decided to have a late lunch or early dinner at the Ginger Cafe, since this would be our last dinner together.  Jill’s brother David was supposed to come meet up with Jill tomorrow night either in town or camp.  We had a nice quiet dinner sitting outside & enjoying the food & each other’s company.

IMG 3770.jpg

We picked up ice before heading back then shared some Texas Cider she’d brought with her.  I know I keep repeating myself, but it was another nice night to fall asleep under the stars!

home  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  9  10   rAnDoM

 vikhill@gmail.com                                                                                                                                                    © Vicki Hill 2022