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

Day 1 6.22
Did what I always do when leaving for my happy place…left early in the morning, only stopped for gas & to pee….

And for a cattle drive that was going on in Taylor Park….mooooove slowly!

….and 12 hours later I arrived!  I drove straight out to Washington Gulch to try & find & camping.  It’s a new spot, but it will work just fine!

So happy to be back!

Day 2 6.23
Last night’s sky was amazing….it’s good to be ‘living’ back outside.  I enjoyed a leisurely morning in camp, drinking my coffee slowly & taking in all the scenery from my new camp spot.

Right up the road, is one of the hikes I do multiple times in the summer….it’s named the 403.  So, I drove up the road a few miles, parked & started my first hike in CB for the year.  The glacier lilies were out with their bashful looking blooms.

Then I reached the top for such big wonderful views!  Love this hike!

Avery not looking as bright red in this mornings light.

Looking towards Gothic mountain.

Over towards Aspen.

And the switchbacks in the still-snow-covered Gunsight Pass.

On my way back down the trail, I found a new spur trail off to one side.  I’m putting this new one on the list when Danny comes out.

Once back at the trailhead, I drove over to Slate River road to look at both the reservation camping as well as the designated camping to see how busy it all was.  I might try, for the first time, to score a reservation at the Oh Be Joyful campground since I’m out here for so long this time.

Then I drove into town, went to Momo’s & got my lunch, then sat out on a bench & ate it.  Yum!  I walked around town to see what’s new, what’s changed, & how different it is this year from last.  BIG DIFFERENCE!  My fave hamburger place, The Last Steep, owned by a couple of brothers from Kansas City that I’d become friends with, sold their restaurant this year.  Then the Brick Oven Pizza place…the place I spent the most time other than camp & trails, also sold.  I’m super happy for the owners of both places, but I know I’ll miss them a lot.

This just broke my heart….the best place for beer, to gather socially, the most awesome owners & staff….all sold & closed up.  Super sad!

I went back out to camp for the rest of the evening.  I met my neighbors, from Arkansas & they seem really nice.  The weather is finicky tonight but I did see a rainbow!  I was also able to FaceTime with Emma!!!! Awesome!  It’s chilly out, so I’m tucking into the lounge for the rest of the evening.

Day 3 6.24
My ‘buying ice every other day’ routine begins now….it’s the least fun thing I do.  So, this morning I was off to buy ice & get water.  Then I drove just south of town to a super popular hike called East Brush Creek.  It’s only a couple miles out to the end, but it’s a beauty.  There’s a new addition this year….this lovely little bench!

Lupine in bloom above the East River.

Wildflowers bloom here earlier than most of the mountain trails….this one is close to town & at a low elevation.  I knew there was a possibility for a storm this morning & I’ve been caught out here before in one.  I could hear the couple behind me talking as we all hiked the same pace.  Near the end of the trail, I stepped off to the side to put on my rain jacket & it was Carole & her husband Mike that had been behind me!  We all decided to turn around as the thunder began to boom! but it was so nice to catch up with them for the two or so miles back to the trailhead!  I met Carole a couple of years ago through another mutual friend & I’ve been to her fabulous house for dinner once.  Her backyard view of the Slate River is spectacular.  

I went to Bonez for Happy Hour (which is supposed to be a secret now…not on their menu) for a Margarita & queso.  Alex the bartender was there (got to know him last year) & we figured out we’re both camped out near each other.  

Many of the locals move out into the forests to camp during the summer months.  Affordable housing in Crested Butte, like so many Colorado towns, is practically non-existent.  Homeowners would rather AirBNB their homes out to tourists than rent them out to locals.  This is why there is a HUGE shortage of staff here & why some of the businesses…especially restaurants have sold.  The owners have been working day & night for several years because they can’t find staff.  Tourists complain about how long their wait times are to be seated & for their food…but that’s what happens when the neighborhood becomes so many second homeowners & so many million dollar homes.  Service workers can not afford to live in this community any longer.  So, I know of a few living out by where I’m camping.

Today was the annual “Chainless Bike Race” where bike chains are zip-tied & riders are taken up to Kebler Pass.  They fly down the miles & into town.  They are colorful, fun loving, sometimes wreck, sometimes are ‘wrecked’, but it’s all in good fun & so awesome to watch.  This is the true culture of this town & I love that they are hanging onto some of their true traditions.  This is still Crested Butte!…not Vail or Aspen (& hopefully it never will be like those places).

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After the race, I met up with my friend Talie & we went over to her place.  Talie is riding a 3 wheeled bike these days, powered by her one leg.  Her other leg, is a high tech protheses.  She was making us dinner & had also invited her former roommate, Heather.  Heather is local artist, now living up in Irwin.  It was wonderful night spent visiting with an old friend & making a new one.  Heather painted the Dog Bus you might seeing going through town.

It was another chilly evening in camp…but I come prepared.  For the past quite a few years, I always travel with 4 season clothes.  It’s only June here…may be summer, but it usually doesn’t feel like it yet.

Day 4 6.25
It’s Saturday & camp is getting busier.  I drove up towards Kebler Pass to hike up to Copley Lake….so pretty!  

It’s still early for the wildflowers, but a few are popping out.

After that hike, I drove up the road a bit further to hike up to Lily Lake…its always a muddy one, but a good one.

And still some snow around for sure.

You can hike past the lake to a short trail that takes you to an overlook of the falls off Ohio Pass road.

Lily Lake

I’d hiked 9 miles so I headed back to camp (this would be where I’d normally head to the Brick to drink a great beer & chat with friends, but….)  When I got back the campsite two doors down, which is a bigger site, was open, so I moved into to it.  I thought one of my Colorado friends might come out to camp with me, so I wanted something that would hold us both.  I had a new book to read, so I opened that, as well as a beer & enjoyed the evening in my new camp spot.  

Day 5 6.26
This morning I visited with my neighbors (I had now been on both sides of them) Lonnie & Amy Nicholson from Fort Smith, AR.  We chatted while we all had our morning coffee.  There was a storm expected today, so I hiked Hunter Hill (in town) to Upper Loop. This trail has some gorgeous flowers blooming right now!

This trail is considered a local trail, that follows the base of Mt. Crested Butte through some lovely Aspen forests. 

At my turn around spot, I hopped onto another trail called Happy Hour.  I didn’t make it all the way to the top though, the skies were turning dark so I headed back to the 4Runner.

And, they just continued to get more black.  

When mountain skies look like this, I’m grateful to not be on a trail.

I headed back out to camp & had a little time to clean up my little home away from home before the storm began. There would be no more hiking for me today…it was a book day for sure!  The rain began & the fog descended hiding my mountains.

My no-view view from inside Camper.

Day 6 6.27
For the third time, I’ve moved camp.  Lucky for me I can do it easily & quickly.  The end spot, which had been filled with a Class A Tour Bus type RV, pulled out this morning.  I quickly claimed the large spot for my tiny self, knowing I’d be having company soon.  And I need some privacy.  Everyone else here is in an RV or Van….I’m the only one who pees & changes clothes outside.  I probably pissed off the guy in the big Class C that was making his way up here when I posted my chair to claim the spot, but I was good with where I was.  I love how the morning sun shines on this ridge earlier than any other campsite I’ve had out here before.  The morning sun can feel like it raises the chilly temps 10-15 degrees.  I’m loving camping on this ridge! (See my two tents on the end?) 

I drove out to Gothic to see what’s going on out there.  I’d heard the snow plug was still blocking the road & sure enough it is.  It was stopping any vehicles, but not the mountain bikers.

So, I hiked over the plug & continued up the road.

  I checked out Emerald Lake…so pretty!  Nice to see it empty of people, paddle boards & kayaks.  It’s just perfect this morning.

Theres a few roads around here I refuse to drive.  I’ve hiked on most of them & driven some of them in the past…which is why I now know better to not drive them!  The road up to Paradise Divide is one of them.  It’s the only way around the snow plug, but its steep narrow 2 mile section with a couple of hundred feet drop off is not for me.  But, I thought it would be great to hike this.  There would be less traffic this time of year, so where the road splits just beyond Scofield Pass, I took the one up to Paradise.

There was still lots of snow around!

This ‘backside’ of the road would have been fine to drive, but I enjoyed walking it.  There were a few ATV buggy that past me, but mostly I was by myself. 

The views near the top were wonderful!

I walked back the same way I’d hiked up, enjoying the different views going back.  Once back at the snow plug, I noticed this chunk of earth gone out of the road…yikes!  I wonder & hope that gets fixed, once the plug is melted out & before thousands of people start driving over it.

I got back to Camper, drove down the road to a pullout & had lunch, then I stopped by the Visitors Center at RMBL to say hi to Rick & Greta on my way back to town.  It’s so great to see them & we made plans to meet for a beer soon…(not for any good beer, but this town does have a couple of bars happily serving PBR!) 

It was Monday night & the free park concerts have begun!

I didn’t stay for the entire concert…I was hungry.  So, I drove back out to camp & made dinner.  Then the big rains came, but when they stopped, they left this perfect view of Mt. Crested Butte!

Day 7 6.28
I went to my fave breakfast place this morning, arriving just a few minutes after they opened.  They are super busy, like anyone else who owns a restaurant here.  The waitstaff & owner, who I’ve come to know after all these years, always greet me like an old friend.  And, it’s always super yummy food.  

Then I was headed out to a really popular hike, but this was a Tuesday & I was trying something new.  Scarp Ridge parking has changed the past few years.  The big lot everyone used to park in was on private property & the owners decided they’d close it to the public.  The forest service has barred, gated & signed as such & now the parking is so much smaller, cars have to skew themselves at dangerous angles, people can get blocked in when it gets crowded & it’s made a wonderful hike, crazy.  So, I usually leave super early of a morning to try to get one of the few parking spots that I don’t have to use my chocks for (my emergency brake doesn’t work!)  But my friends Carole & Mike, start their hike below at Irwin Lake…they hate the nasty road to get up to the trailhead & really dislike the parking situation.  So, I parked at the lake & hiked from there.

Along the way I found this pretty sweet waterfall!

And some wildflowers!

Then it’s just up & up & up & up…stopping frequently to breathe.  There are two ways to the top:  the Steep way & the Steeper way.    But, when you stop the views are great….so it all works out well.

There were wildflowers blooming all along the trail.

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As you hike upward, you get great views of Lake Irwin (that’s where I parked Camper).

If you take the ‘less steep’ way, you have views all along the ridge as you hike to the summit.

At the top!  You can see Blue Lake (a hike you do up Oh Be Joyful Valley) below.  Still tons of snow on these mountains.

It’s such a spectacular view at 12,200’.

This is looking over toward Mt. Owen & Mt. Ruby with Green Lake at the bases in between.

I was up there all alone…such a treat.  Then I had to hike down, down, down.  Right before I got back to the trailhead, I ran into Carole & Mike headed up.  They weren’t sure how far they’d get, another storm was coming in & we all know you don’t want to be caught on this trail in a storm…it’s very exposed.  We chatted for a few minutes, then they went up & I kept heading down.  Past all the bad parking….I was wishing I’d driven the road not enjoying the hike back to the lake too much.  But, it was something new to try & I discovered a new waterfall.  

I went into town to the Secret Stash which sells yummy slices (but only during the day…no slices at night) & sat at their cool new outdoor bar they just opened at the end of last summer.  I had a Margarita too…but they’re not nearly as good as Bonez Margaritas.

Then I drove back out to camp, finished my new book.  What a good week it’s been!

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