3. Summer in Colorado…June/July, 2021

Day 15 7.5
My camping limit was up at Slate River, so I decided this morning…the day after the holiday & an early Monday morning I might find a new campsite.  And I had a specific one in mind…my favorite on Washington Gulch.  I was at a parking area close by early & noticed a young couple in the site.  They were moving around & I thought they might be packing up.  I walked up the road & asked if by any chance they were leaving & they said yes…in about an hour but I was welcome to park along side of them.  I said I’d just wait down the road, & as soon as they slammed the lid on their SUV I drove up to the site.  They asked me if I’d take a photo of them…they were on they way back home.  First time visitors in this amazing town.

Yay!!! I got my campsite & I would probably be able to keep it…or more appropriately give it to Danny when he came out!  I’m back home!!!

After I set up my tent, I drove back to Slate River to break down my other two tents, making sure to leave the campsite uber clean for the next people.  

Then next….so exciting….I went to do laundry!  Mundane, but I needed to get it done. Then, hold on, there’s more…I went to the store!  The mundane couldn’t get me down, I had my campsite back for whenever I’d make it back there today.  I went back to the laundromat to dry my clothes & sat in the lounge of Camper & ate a salad.

I went to Rainbow Park to leave the 4Runner while I did a local hike from town called Tony’s Trail…until the sky turned dark & booming was heard.  I turned around quickly & went back the way I’d come!

This would be my first day, since I got to CB that I wasn’t able to really do a hike.  Bummer!  I drove to the library, parked, sat & finished a book I’d checked out, then turned it in.  I walked around town with my rain coat…skies always threatening with sounds & darkening with black clouds.

I went to Ryce, a Thai restaurant & ordered a couple of egg rolls.  I met Rick & Greta for a beer at the Brick…always so much fun visiting with these two, & as usual, they introduced me to more of their friends.  There was a concert in the park tonight, but I didn’t feel like sitting out in the rain, so I just went back to camp.  By the time I got back, the surrounding mountains were covered in white clouds & then it began to pour.

Day 16 7.6
After coffee this morning, I drove down the road to the closest trailhead to camp, Snodgrass.  This is also a mountain bike trail, but super popular from both the Washington Gulch side & the Gothic road side.  The trail winds up into the Aspen forest then pops out to a view of Mt. Crested Butte.

Lots of beautiful flowers along the trail!

After my hike, I drove the 30 miles south to Gunnison.  I had lots of boring errands to run…a shower at the Rec Center, Walmart for allergy med (but yay!  my dizziness is starting to subside after weeks & weeks of driving me insane!) & to the grocery store & top of my tank with gas.

Once back in CB, I went to Bonez Happy Hour again…this is a problem.  No not really, but now the bartenders all recognize me….a sure sign I’ve been spending lots of time there!  Actually, all I get is one margarita & an order of queso….but still.  Oh what the hell…you only live once & the bartenders are super fun to chat with!

Back at my wonderful home camp, I caught up on the phone with my sister-in-law & then dived into another book.

Not much to say about this amazing, gorgeous, fantastic & magnificent sky tonight!

Day 17 7.7
I literally rolled out of bed & got into the front seat & took off about 6:30am this morning…sleep clothes & no brushing teeth or making coffee.  I was headed out of town up Kebler Pass to Scarp Ridge…one of my super favorite hikes.  It wasn’t to get on the trail early, it was to get parking.  Ever since the owners, Irwin, quit letting people park on the huge flat space by the trailhead (which is on their mostly abandoned property) & fenced off the good area, the Forest Service is allowing people to park along the road.  It’s dangerous, crazy angled parking, not much of it & just nuts.  And this trail has become super popular, so it get droves of cars with not much space to park.  There was one other car up there when I arrived, so I managed to get the best spot…the place where you can’t be blocked in.  Then I proceeded to follow my morning routine: changing clothes, brushing teeth, getting my pack ready…etc. Then I took off on this hard, straight up hill to over 12,000’ hike…but the views are fabulous!

A bunch of deer playing along the road as I drove up to the trailhead.

Yes, it goes straight up…all the way.  STRAIGHT UP!

Looking over to Green Lake, Mt. Ruby & Mt. Owen.

The view off the ridge into Oh Be Joyful Valley & Democrat Basin.

A close up view of Democrat…I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to hike this from the Oh Be Joyful trailhead.

The view down over Lake Irwin (where a gazillion SUP boarders float all the time now).

I hiked the loop part of this trail, then headed back into town.  I went to Momo’s for a To-Go-Mo then met Rick at the Brick later in the afternoon.

Back at camp I read until I’d finished another book. What a wonderful day!  And, the sun was setting on Mt. Crested Butte tonight….just love the way it lights up the tip.  So happy to be back out here camping!

Day 18 7.8
I enjoyed a long morning in camp, drinking coffee & looking for wildlife.  Then I drove back to Slate River intending to hike the Upper Upper Loop, but the parking lot was full.  I drove on down to the road to find an empty lot for Poverty Gulch.  I got all my stuff together & crossed the river…boy is it low right now.  Then I walked the almost 2 miles down the rough dirt road to the trailhead & another river crossing (they both may be low, but they are wide enough your feet definitely get wet!)

This is an old mining area, so the trail is filled with rocks…so tough to hike on.  But the views are big with lots & lots of waterfalls & the flowers were amazing & everywhere!

I hiked & hiked & climbed higher & higher.  Then you hike out of the bushes & flowers & to a trailhead sign for Daisy Pass.  I’ve done this trail 3 other times…I’ve never liked it anytime I’ve done it.  The first time, I had to turn around right before the pass because of a storm.  The second & third time I did it I made it all the way to the pass, but didn’t enjoy it.  It’s super steep & super slick…big fall & slide factor.  The last time I did was early in the summer & I had to traverse three snowfields…OMG scary.  So, my plan was for today, to turn around at the sign & go back down.

But, I didn’t.  I wasn’t tired & didn’t want to stop hiking.  I told myself it wasn’t that bad…I should give it a third chance.

There are so many many many times I don’t listen to my own advice, & I wished I had this time.  The trail was fine until the third wash crossing (no snow it in this time of year) where I promptly slid on my butt on a sharp rock.  I was sure I’d ripped up my shorts under my skort, but I didn’t.  Just a little skin off.  I shakily got up & continued on the trail, more nervous now that I’d slid & the trail just gets worse from here.  I started to count my steps….a habit I have when I’m super nervous & really tired or a little scared.  I climbed my way super slowly up the scree practically kissing the trail so steep in front of my face…the slick was more worrisome than the steep but combined…oh well…why oh why did I change my mind & come up here?

I made it to the tiny top of the pass, snapped some photos & looked around.  I knew I’d probably never hike this trail again.  And then I started back down….going so slow & being super careful.

Looking down over the pass into Democrat Basin.  You can see Scarp Ridge in the distance.

The pass sits up there by that small tree.  When I made it back to the wash, I was determined to find a better, non-sliding way around & I did.  Now I was past the hard part.

And then I fell.

Falls happen so quick & it’s one of my biggest fears.  I landed on my butt, with my right leg out in front of me & my left leg & foot bent back behind me.  My toes had gotten caught in a pile of rocks.  I hadn’t gotten off the trail, I’d been faithfully using my poles & not going too fast.  But, I was down on the ground.  My arm was bleeding a bit from the fall.  I carefully rolled to my right & unbent my leg.  I could feel my quad muscle had been strained but I was worried about my knee & foot.  I got up slowly & took a couple of steps.

For the first time ever (because I’ve done this hike several times before, sometimes just hiking into Poverty Gulch…like I’d planned on initially today), there wasn’t one other person on this trail.  One car had come up the road when I was hiking, but two people got out & hiked up the other way towards the old mine.  No one was around now.  I still had 4.5 miles to hike back to my car.  I figured I’d better get going before anything swelled up or began to hurt.

Looking way way back up to the pass.  See that tiny tree in the low part of the mountain…that’s how high you have to climb to get to the pass.

I was careful & probably a little slower, but I was surprised nothing hurt very much.  Oh I could feel some crankiness everywhere, but I felt super lucky & grateful to make it back to the 4Runner.

Back at the 4Runner, I threw in my pack, grabbed my sandals & a towel & headed back the short distance to the river.  I literally just sat in the river….soaking my lower body in the cold water.  After awhile, I sloshed out, dried off & drove back to camp.  Shaky, grateful & pretty sure I couldn’t hike the distanced I had, if some part were really broken or torn.

Back in camp I noticed the swelling & bruising start in my left ankle, so I made an ice pack & kept it there all evening; downed some Tylenol too, followed by my biggest beer.  At bedtime, I didn’t use my sleeping bag, my kept my left leg elevated all night.  It got a bit uncomfortable in the night as my left leg, knee & ankle got a bit cranky.  I’m sure I didn’t sleep much worried about if it would feel alright tomorrow.

Day 19 7.9
Of course the first thing I did was check out my ankle.  Swollen, but no more bruising.  My little cut on my arm was fine, my quad & knee on the left leg weren’t happy, but better than my ankle.  My big first aid kit was in the Thule, so I carefully, climbed up on the tire, opened the road box & got out an ace bandage.  I wrapped my ankle after icing it again, followed by more Tylenol.  I set up the screen tent, since the flies were out in droves & elevated the ankle.  

But, as I was looking out into the open space near camp, I spotted a cute little fox.  He/She crept closer & closer…what a lovely sight!

Mid morning, I needed more ice, so I drove to town then back to camp.  But, the good news was, I was expecting company today!  Jill & Greg had originally made reservations at the RV Park just south of CB for next week.  Jill sold her cute little Tab trailer & they have a brand new big huge Airstream.  Once I’d gotten camping back in my old spot on Washington Gulch, I invited them to come early if they want to.  Their new trailer would fit out here.  And, so they were coming this evening.

Once they got here & got the trailer all set up, I took a tour then we all just sat around & visited around their table.

The ankle was still pretty swollen by the time I went to bed…so I repeated the Tylenol & elevation I’d done last night.  

Day 20 7.10
I woke up & happily saw that the swelling had maybe gone down a bit or at least wasnt any worse.  But, I knew I wouldnt be hiking today.  Jill & Greg took off for town to go shopping & I stayed in camp & read & finished a book.  Then I drove into town to the library to turn the book in & decided I wanted a big fat burger from the Last Steep (surely it would offset the all the Tylenol Id been takingirrational thinking I know, but I hate taking medicine & I feel like Im taking a bunch right now just trying to get rid of these allergies & dizziness).  I texted Jill to see if they wanted to join me & they did.  We all enjoyed sitting out on their nice patio & the yummy food.

After lunch, they went back to shop & I went to the Brick.  I met one of their new bartenders, Brandi & boy was that fun visiting with her.  She happened to not be working, just sitting & having a beer at their wonderful outdoor bar.  Shes a climber & had so many awesome stories to tell.  While Ive only done a little climbing, I follow many of the well known climbers& she had climbed or met some of them.Conrad Anker, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold.  I was starstruck listening to her stories.  Then I was amazed when this young woman handed me her phone & asked if Itype in my phone number…she wanted to go hiking with me sometime!  It was a good day at the Brick in spite of my larger than normal ankle (& I do have large ankles & knees, of which now I am truly grateful for sturdiness & no longer care about their loveliness).

Then I went back to camp & just enjoyed sitting out in the lovely evening.  I visited with Jill & Greg for a few minutes, but they soon retired to their trailer.  I saw the fox again, read until dark, then tucked inside my little 4Runner & read until I was sleepy.

I really missed being able to hike today & so there are no photos.  

Day 21 7.11
I watched the sunrise this morning, then read, then left to go to town to buy more ice & water.  The ankle was looking & feeling bettertender to touch but I was going to try a short easy hike & see how it went.  Jill & Greg had hired a guide & driven down towards Gunnison to spend part of the day fishing.

Tonys trail is a town trailyou can park at Rainbow Park & walk a private road to the trailhead.  So, it was a little road, a little uphill & then a little downhillthis was my test.  I did great & had a wonderful surprise as I got up to the top of the trail & then beyond where it intersects with the Bridges trail.  

Brian, one of the owners of the Brick, was mountain biking along enjoying some time off.  But, he stopped to visit with me for about 15 minutes & we had a great conversation.  It was fun to chat in these beautiful woods on a cool morning & talk about beer, his 7 year old daughter, life in CB, camping & hiking.  

After my hike back down to the car, I drove to the river & soaked my ankle for about 20 minutes in the cool water & read.  

Then I went to the Brick for lunch & one of my favorite bartenders, Tracy was working.  There were some fun folks at the bar today…the guy sitting next to me was with a group & was chatty.  Turns out his name is Danny & his wife’s name is Vicki…it was pretty funny.

The skies today were smoky from the fires in northern Colorado & all the fires out west.  Back at camp, Jill & Greg were there having enjoyed a good day fishing.  But the smoke was bothering Jill, so she stayed in the trailer & rested.

I was lucky & got a FaceTime call from Claire & Emma & then a long call from Pete.  Talking to my kids & grandkids always makes me happy!

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