Adventure…Colorado 7.2007

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2007

I arrived in Pueblo at 9am and stopped at Starbucks on my way through. 

As I grabbed my drink, I smiled at the memories of times spent here with Lucas when he lived here; some times with Dan and once with Jill and Sara. 

And then I was off again, on the road, heading towards the mountains.  For the past few years, several people have told me that I should visit

the town of Lake City (south-west Colorado) so that's where I was headed to....and it was beautiful.  A little town, but everyone I met was really nice and loved living there.


the photo on the right is of Lake San Cristobol; I thought the funky bridge spanning the two "islands" looked fun


after passing the lake, I headed up a jeep road to the trailhead.  this was where I camped my first night. 


 I hiked to the base of Handies Peak.  the above photo on the right is looking back down the valley


looking up the trail at Handies Peak

WAY OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE--I have ridden on jeep roads before, but none like this and I had never driven on one.  this was the road I had to take to get to and back from the trailhead. this area was one of the few one-way spots, but the drop-offs over the edge was the major source of fear.   I was pretty nervous but made it out just fine.

I spent the rest of Tuesday in Lake City.  Visited with the owner of the local coffee house and then had a beer ("dazed and infused" from Boulder) at a really nice outdoor bar and grill.

(then there's the story of me driving 22 miles to a remote camping area, remembering I left my wallet in the bathroom of the bar and grill and driving all the way back to Lake City to find they had found my wallet and everything was there...yeah!....disaster averted!)


So, with wallet in tow, I drove back out of town and headed to a new camping area...a really cool (and free) one along the Gunnison River in a magnificent canyon.


 I hit the road early and took off for Crested Butte, a place that fills my heart to overflowing.


It was FAT TIRE festival week, so mountain bikers were everywhere.  But in this town, they always are.  It's so cool to see so many of the locals riding these old bikes around town even though most of them probably own really expensive mountain bikes as well.  They had these really cool metal statues everywhere in town.  Of course I met a couple of people that were really cool.  One woman, I'll call her "fearless", gave me some ideas on places to hike and we swapped hiking stories of trips taken in the Snowmass Wilderness Area.  Another two ladies who were best friends; one from Lenexa, KS and the other from Dallas, TX.  They are now CB residents, but were so nice and great to visit with. 

After walking around town, buying a local hiking guide book and a local history book, I took off for another trailhead.  (Here's where the story gets icky...actually I won't go into it in too much's very long, kind of sad, but no harm done in the end.  It involves a long-dreamed-of-but-not-achieved-hike, lots of mosquitoes, but most disturbing, ANOTHER jeep I DID drive down, twice. The most fearful parts weren't the deep tire ruts, the very long one lane road, or the large ups and downs, but was the combination of all of those plus the 800' drop-off during a large section of the road.)

the above photos are near the not-taken-trailhead . they're of an old mine and you can see the rails going down into the shaft..kinda neat.  (how did those miners get to these places so far in the backcountry?)


But, making a great recovery, after my driving the worst part of the road, I found a wonderful campsite with views that will take your breath away, cooked dinner, tucked myself in and slept like a baby.


 morning was beautiful, the skies were so blue, and the mountains were just glowing when the sun came up.  I was BACK IN SNOWMASS WILDERNESS!  This my seventh year to do some kind of hike or backpack trip in this area.  This is where the AWE! in AWESOME! is born. This area is known for it's beautiful wild flowers.  I was still too early to see the usually "blanketed" valleys, but did get to see some early arrivals and snow still upon the summits and in the cracks of the mountains.  The trail I took was Rustlers Gulch.



the wildflowers will be at their peak in the next three weeks....then in just a couple of weeks after that, they'll be gone.  it's a short season, but absolutely magnificent!



I loved my hike on this day! 

The smiles and amazement at everything that surrounded me was unstoppable.  The only part missing was my hiking partner....I wished Dan was here with me to enjoy all of this.

Back on the road, I stopped back into Crested Butte for one last look (for now anyway) and was off on a long drive over the beautiful Kebler Pass Road....


on the left if Lake Irwin (Danny and I camped here last year); Kebler Pass Road is an avenue of Aspen trees (my favorite), ferns, and flowers.  A joy to drive!


The views from this road are wonderful!


Kebler Pass road is part of the West Elk Loop Scenic byway...which I continued to drive on.  It's a long drive and has diverse scenery, very remote in parts (including one of those signs that says "no gas for 80 miles").  Some of the area the mountains and surrounding area are more like desert, but then as the highway heads farther south, you drive along these deep and splendid canyons.  The Currecanti, and the Blue Mesa areas.  The highway goes up and down, around curves and wonderful views.  I had no idea this area was so much canyon.

and so, time to find a campsite, I headed toward the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  Danny and I did an adventurous overnight one-mile-straight-down backpack trip here several years ago, so it wasn't my first time to visit the Canyon.

I drove down to the campground by the river (my second time to sleep next to the Gunnison River, but a couple of hundred miles apart), took a nice long walk, watched some fly fisherman for awhile, then headed to bed.

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