CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL TO ALBERT PEAK
Click HERE for today's pictures
|Through the trees|
The trail climbs at a nice steady, with switchbacks, pace through the spruce forest. Many of the spruce here at the pass are dead due to bug kill, but because the lower vegetation is still so rich, green, and thick, you didn't get the sense of hiking just through dead trees. Wildflowers, except for the arnica, are largely past. The seed heads of one type of aster form white masses in many places. We did find some Jacob's Ladder blooming, and a few stands of aspen daisies. Mostly I reveled in the sunshine filtering through the trees and the woodpeckers! We had a constant music of noisy woodpeckers out getting their breakfast! Dead spruce are good for something!
|Rock flow across to Lobo Overlook and north section of CDT|
Along a willow lined cliff above a huge meadow (I spied a couple of deer down in the meadow), and then up and on to the ridge itself, marked by trailposts! Old ski equipment up on top and huge log fences built long, long ago judging from the condition of the logs! At one point the ridge was narrow enough that I could stand right on the trail and take a picture east to the Rio Grande drainage and then turn and take one west to the San Juan/Colorado River drainage. Right on the divide!
|CDT above ski area. Albert Peak on left.|
|Westward, Ginger and Inuksuk|
Around 12:15ish we started back down. No threat of thunderstorms today - the skies are simply filled with big puffy clouds in all directions. We met a single man planning to lunch on top of the peak enroute down, plus a couple other hikers when we hit the forest area. One couple was turning around because the altitude was bothering the gal. They had just arrived from Boston - no time to acclimate! Rick stopped just before the meadow to find a shady spot to call his mom. Since my phone was in the car, I went on and called Mom with one foot on the west and one foot one the east in the shade of the divide interpretation sign on the pass. That worked until a bunch of cars drove up, families got out, and it became grand central station!
|Rick and Ginger on top of Albert Peak|
Monday will be a packing up day. Laundry, fill the propane tank, clean things up in the trailer, and we will be ready to pull out for Ghost Ranch Tuesday morning well rested.
|Inuksuk on top of Albert Peak with Treasure Mountain and western vistas|
Saturday, September 8:
PAGOSA SPRINGS COLORFEST!
THRIVENT/HABITAT WORK DAY
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|The volunteers for today!|
|Good looking garage!|
|Check out the flame!|
|Look what I found|
in Patty's yard!
We left Patty's house around 2:30 to head back to shower and clean up for the evening's events. Caught up on a few housekeeping items and at 5 we drove back in for the Band and Beers fest. Five dollars each got us into the tent, where we could get a glass of wine, etc. We enjoyed it all, including the little 84 year old lady, born in Pagosa, who visited with me frequently as we listened to the band. She was quite a character!
|The field with the two balloons.|
Back out to the RV park, in the dark for the first time. We discovered how many businesses in Pagosa have 'seasonal lights' out all year round! Pretty cool!
Friday, September 7:
DISC GOLF ON RESERVOIR HILL!
|Golf Course is well|
marked and labeled.
|Getting the frisbee down|
from the tree!
|Rick tees off on #2|
|Ginger lets loose on the 17th|
|Hot springs 'mountain"|
|Hot springs area from across river|
In bed early as tomorrow is the balloon festival!! (Plus we are going to do a little more Habitat work as they are short of volunteers!)
|Pagosa Peak in the distance as we walk down Reservoir Hill|
Thursday, September 6:
CHIMNEY ROCK ARCHAEOLOGICAL AREA
Click HERE for pictures from today
|Chimney Rock peaks as you enter the site.|
We arrive at 9:15, just in time for the 9:30 tour. You can go on a self guided tour, but it doesn't include the upper mesa, and it still costs $10 each. So you might as well take the guide! Ours was Scott who was very knowledgeable, but also talked ALOT. We ran behind schedule! We had 9 people in our group. (Mostly Texans and Coloradoans, plus Rick and I!)
|I got to grind a little corn!|
|Rooms of Great Kiva up on top of mesa|
|Chimney Rock from mesa with rabbitbrush|
While the car was being worked on, Rick and I caught a ride down to 160 and the Sourdough Pizza place on the corner. We were the ONLY ones in the restaurant, so could switch channels on the big screen TV to tennis. We sat and watched and enjoyed a wholewheat sourdough thin crust grilled chicken pizza with sun dried tomatoes, bbq sauce, and artichoke hearts! Yum!
|Little church in Pagosa Springs|
Quiet evening at the park watching a little tennis on the computer.
Wednesday, September 5:
Nothing much to say for today. We relaxed, we rested, we had dinner with Terry and Johnnie Pickett at Bear Creek Grill, returning all the maps they loaned us. Great people. Rest of day spent getting caught up from Monday and Tuesday! See below!
Monday, September 3 - Tuesday, Sept. 4:
CLIMBING HANDIES PEAK, A 14ER!!
Click HERE for pictures of our adventure!
|Upper Rio Grande valley north of Creede.|
We left around noon, drove to South Fork for drinks and some jerky, and on up the Silver Thread Scenic Road to Creede. Gas was 35 cents cheaper in Creede than Lake City, so we filled up again there to make sure we wouldn't have to buy gas at over $4 a gallon.
|Slumgullion Earth flow|
|Power of the internet!|
Pioneer Presby in Lake City
|Alpine Loop valley and mts.|
|Big cow moose in pond.|
|Truck parked at upper trailhead, American Basin.|
|American Basin, San Juan Mountains|
Rick and I had already eaten, so we spent the remaining daylight making sure all of our packs and gear was ready for the early morning departure. Rick fixed up his sleeping bag with his exercise pad in the truck bed, covered it all with a tarp to ward off the dew and wind. I made my 'bed' in the backseat of the truck. We took a short stroll along the creek, visiting with a Wyoming couple who arrived to climb the peak also in the morning. Right after we arrived, a black truck pulled in, two hikers and a dog got out, and left for the summit. It was 6:15 in the evening. I figured they were going up to camp at Sloan Lake, but another group said they thought they were climbing to the top. (Sure enough, shortly before 9pm, we saw two bright lights and a red light (the dog) come bouncing down the trail. They then camped in their truck for the night.)
We crawled into our sleeping bags around 8:30pm! Alarms set for 5am, hoping for a pre-6am departure in the morning. The stars are glorious. The moon will rise later. The sounds of the creek lull us to sleep.
It is a restless night for me. I probably wake up every 45 minutes at best to check my watch, see what is happening outside, look at the stars and the moon, and anticipate our climb! Not to mention I was just a little too long for the Honda across wise (but definitely better off than Rick would have been!) We both rise during the night (nature calls!) and the air is brisk, the stars incredible, and the moon is lighting up the whole basin. I can't imagine how bright it would have been were it a full moon.
|Too dark for photographs, so I'll include|
my scribble for today!
|First light hits the headwall.|
We passed several streams flowing out of the rock glacier and Sloan Lake - tiny waterfalls and cascades. In one place along the talus slope, we could hear water gurgling beneath the rocks, but no stream was visible. That was rather eerie - maybe it was another glacier type thing. Sloan Lake sits right below the headwall - you can hike right past it and never see it when traveling uphill. There are a few flat spots to put a tent, but Rick and I both agreed it is NOT a place we would want to be camping in a thunderstorm!
As we arrived at the saddle above American Basin (and the sunshine!), we were suddenly blasted with an icy wind. We thought it would be with us to the top, and were surprised (when we finally made the summit) to find the peak itself was calm. I was able to strip clear down to just my two t-shirts for a good tie-dye picture. (Naturally I had planned my outfit so I could have a tiedye summit shot!)
|On top of Handies Peak!|
OMG to use Facebook terms! What a view! The mountains to the east were a little harder to see in the morning sun, but to the west, north, and south, nothing but peaks. Especially to the west, in the heart of the mining country, we saw reds and whites. Nothing has snow on it this time of year, but plenty of gray and white rock. As we saw two hikers approaching from the Grizzly Gulch trail shortly after we arrived, I quickly took my panorama 360 shot from the top. (So far I'm having trouble with Hug-in at stitching it together, so it may not appear in the blog yet.)
|View north from summit toward Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre|
|My inuk isn't very clear here, but|
the view is awesome!
|Rick with Sloan Lake & American Basin headwall.|
We had expected the other couple at the trailhead to pass us at some point on the ascent. But instead, we met a threesome from the United Kingdom on the ridge going down, then another couple celebrating their 42nd anniversary, and finally....2/3 of the way down, the couple from Wyoming. They had slept in! I hope they made it!
By the time we picked up the water jug, then our coats, and had shed some of what we were wearing, I felt like we appeared to be walking clothing stores by the time we arrived back at the truck. I had my windbreaker slipped through the loop on the pole, the jacket fastened into my fanny pack, and the polar fleece around my waist. Rick was carrying two jackets with him. Going down took as much time as going up (well, nearly!) because I had to stop to take all the pictures that were in the dark going up! We also stopped to briefly explore Sloan Lake.
|Coming down, alpine terrain.|
So...Rick drove to Creede and we each had a huge 'wrap' at the Old Firehouse Pub and Hotel. Bought my cards and I drove home to Pagosa! The folks at the RV park wondered why we were back so early, as we had told them we were leaving on Tuesday, not returning!
What a great adventure!! The climb, the night out, the beauty, the accomplishment. We are feeling good! Retirement is wonderful! God is good! All the time! Amen!
|From Windy Pass: Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, Uncompahgre, and Crystal Mountains - all north of Lake City.|
Sunday, September 2 - Monday, September 3:
LAZY REST DAYS!!
|Rick took these pictures!|
Monday we spent another lazy morning, heading in to town in the afternoon to do a little souvenir shopping and exploring downtown. Then prep time for our trip, leaving in the morning for Lake City and the Alpine Loop.
Saturday, September 1:
BLANCO BASIN ROAD AND OPAL LAKE HIKE
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A bit lazier day today after yesterday's driving! For the first time we headed SOUTH on Hwy 84 toward New Mexico! (We only went 8 miles, but it was south!) More ranch land, barns, and grasslands in between pine and aspen covered ridges.
|Square Top Mountain|
|Rick looks so small compared to these|
Beyond Opal Lake the guide indicates a good chance of seeing Blue Columbine. I looked all around the lake, but alas...no such luck. We are getting a little late to hope to find one blooming in its natural setting. Rick did see several gentians, however, and Rick found an Oregon grape plant, which I didn't know grew in Colorado! Otherwise, an abundance of aspen daisies (I now have the official name of the purple aster type flowers growing in the aspen groves!), geranium leaves changing colors, harebells, yarrow, and some pearly everlasting. I circled the lake to try and identify a large pinkish plume that we saw from afar, only to get lost in the willow thicket and give up! Then we saw another in a more reachable location. I still need to identify it.
|We found a few orangish aspen leaves!|
Quiet evening enjoying the two little boys next door with their family, BBQ steaks (Rick is ready to throw our new BBQ mini grill in the trash, however, as he had to relight it 15 times to cook the steaks!), corn, and a big salad. Clouds are gathering, but no big storm today. Instead it was to reach 88 degrees in town! We put up the awning and ate dinner in the shade of the trailer on the opposite side.
Friday, August 31:
DRIVING TRIP TO THE MINING TOWN OF CREEDE, COLORADO
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|Our route to Creede|
|Enroute to South Fork|
We are a little disappointed in South Fork. It was much more open valley than we expected, spread out, and really didn't have much of a downtown. Many expensive homes are being built along the Rio Grande River north of town on Hwy 149 toward Creede. Creede is located 21 miles north of South Fork. It is the ONLY incorporated town in Mineral County, Colorado. This is mountain country! Between South Fork and Wagonwheel Gap we passed through some high rock cliffs. A the gap, we suddenly broke out into a huge valley, green and lush. Creede is tucked into a tight rock gap in Willow Creek Canyon where the Rio Grande takes a sharp turn to the southwest to continue towards Lake City.
|Old train bridge over the Rio Grande|
|Main Street, Creede|
|I finally found a blue columbine!|
|Old mining building with golden aspens!|
|Aspens were changing!|
|Main building of the Last Chance Mine|
|Rio Grande valley and Creede in foreground.|
Stopped at the Wagonwheel Gap, Cottonwood Camp Lodge for an ice cream cone, and home to the trailer by 6:15. We found the RV park has filled up considerably while we were gone - Labor Day visitors. A nice family with two small boys next to us - from Albuquerque. We loaned them our Hiking and Driving guide for the evening.
A good day!
Thursday, August 30:
FOURMILE FALLS HIKE
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|Lower Fourmile Falls|
Anyway, we are on the trail by 8:45 or so, again hoping to beat the thunderstorms! This trail is not as critical, however, as we won't be on an exposed high elevation slope in the afternoon! The trail drops down for about the first half mile.....another trail that I will have to end with an uphill climb! The rest of the 3.5 mile hike in is on a gentle uphill through open meadows with views to Eagle Mountain and Eagle Peak No. 2 (we haven't figured out where Eagle Peak No. 1 is!), through forests carpeted with nearly spent wildflowers, berry bushes, and aspen groves (especially at the beginning).
I'm not sure I'll be able to recall all the flowers and plants we saw, but I'll try! We also saw some pretty fall colors starting to emerge, especially with the geranium, thimbleberry, and fireweed leaves.
Butter and Eggs - abundant
|Butter and Eggs|
Wild Geraniums - abundant
Purple Asters - abundant
Larkspur (mostly dead)
White Daisy like flowers - abundant
Phlox (by the Upper Falls)
|White Daisy like flowers|
|Wild geranium leaf in fall glory|
Different kind of juniper bush
Two others I need to identify!
Wildlife viewings included three more grouse, and a vole.
The lower Fourmile Falls is actually on Fall Creek. This time of year it is a misty plume of water that freefalls down to the rocks below. We walked in to the bottom of the falls on the way back and I was surprised to find no pool at the bottom. You can just imagine the whole rock face covered with mini waterfalls during the spring.
|Rick & Ginger at Upper Upper Falls|
|Rock formations were outstanding!|
All the rock in this area is called breccia - it is like a gray green cement encasing rocks and boulders of all sizes. Extremely water resistant, as the falls haven't been able to wear away the surface much at all!
A hot day! Thankfully parts of the trail were in the shade and a breeze was blowing up on the trail during lunch. The sun is intense at high elevations! And the storm clouds were late in gathering today, which meant they were never a concern, nor did they provide the cooling effect!
|Rick at Kip's Grill and Cantina|
Lazy late afternoon and evening at the campground after showers. No storm today! Clouds, but no rain or thunder or wind!
Wednesday, August 29:
EAST FORK ROAD TO SILVER FALLS
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This morning was a bit more relaxing as we didn't have to race to beat a thunderstorm! But by 10am we were ready to head out for the day. Since we can't hike 8 miles every day in a row, today will be a REST day - a short hike with a drive.
|Rock formations on the left and East Fork River|
|Butter and Egg flowers and the mountains|
|East Fork San Juan River and the big valley.|
Once past the canyon, the road opens out into a breathtakingly beautiful mountain valley, carpeting with grass, the river braided in multi sections through it, and an array of high mountains as a backdrop. This is a privately owned valley, but public access on the road and into Silver Falls.
At Silver Falls
Leaving the falls, we drive on up the road about a mile, find where Elwood Pass Rd. cuts off, and the Quartz Meadow road continues. As it would involve another major creek crossing, and we aren't sure what we will gain by it, we turn around!
Around the 4 mile mark, we find a campsite next to the river and pull over for a tailgate picnic in the shade. A peaceful place! Rick commented as we finished up lunch, "I think I will like this retirement business!"
Back to the trailer around 2pm to relax, catch up, and ride out another afternoon thunderstorm - with high winds, a little thunder and a splattering of rain. By evening, the skies were clear enough to see a nearly full moon arise over the trees south of us.
|The mountain valley near Silver Falls.|
Tuesday, August 28:
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TO ROCK LAKE
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|On the Continental Divide Trail!|
We drove the 17 miles up to Wolf Creek Pass, and then up the additional 2 miles to the radio tower and the trailhead parking lot. It was cool! Everything is damp, puddles, etc. The wind storm we got yesterday afternoon produced a good rain at the top of the pass, and, as we later discovered, some hail!
We are on the trail by 8:40! When you start the hike at 11,800' at the top of a mountain, you really have nowhere to go but DOWN! And down we went, for over a mile, passing the junction where the Continental Divide Trail takes off for Wolf Creek Pass itself, and then the Weminuche Wilderness area sign. Our surprises today were the meadows - vast grasslands that span the divide in several places, and the forests. We went through a section of forest without any views at all for over a mile. The spruce forest is not healthy up here. Many dead trees, but they evidently produced many seeds as they were dying, because the little spruce trees are everywhere!
|Yellowing plants provide color in front of volcanic rock|
So....a quicker hike back to the top, but it was all uphill for the final 2 miles! That's the problem with starting at the top of a mountain! We started hearing thunder around 1:15, and could see where rain was falling in the distance, but we didn't get any drops until we were leaving the parking lot. Heavy rain as we dropped down off the pass.
|Pagosa Springs resort|
|Rick and I enjoy the hot mineral waters!|
Tired! We plan to drive and hike tomorrow. Mostly an explore with the truck with a short hike tossed in! G'night.
Monday, August 27:
This will be another boring entry! Sorry, folks! Beautiful weather this morning! I took Rick in to the roofing house around 8:15 after we said goodbye to Peggy. While Rick worked, I stayed and drew a scribble, talked to Mom on the phone, and after checking with Rick that he would be another hour or so, I took off for the discount store and then a gift shop! Picked up a pair of flip flops for each of us for only a dollar each! I had been waiting for them to get cheap at the end of the summer - we wanted some for showering.
|Rick, Jimmy, and Terry work on the|
roof Monday morning.
A quiet afternoon. The park is only about a third full, with an occasional overnighter pulling in. We do have someone next to us again on the west side, but the two big spots to the east of us are still empty where Jimmy and Mark were parked. The wind picked up this afternoon to a degree we hadn't seen before. We put the awning back down. Finally we are getting quick at putting it up and down. It took me awhile to get the process down!
Tomorrow we are hiking!!!!
Sunday, August 26:
Our first official day off duty from Habitat! We watched our Habi-town slowly drive away this morning one by one as first Jim and JoAnn left around 6:30am, then Lori and Jerry an hour later. Jimmy pulled out around 9:30 and Mike and Barb about 10:15. Rick and I then left for church so we don't know when Mark left. Peggy is spending the night and then leaving on Monday morning.
We went to the 11am service at the Community United Methodist Church - a good crowd, especially since they also have an 8:15 informal service (too early for us today!) Then shopping for groceries at City Market - we won't have lunches that are really dinner sized served to us anymore, so we needed to pick up a few things!
|This half of the rainbow made Peggy's Class C RV the|
pot of gold.
Around 4:30 we head into town to find a place to sit and make some phone calls. Rick talks with his mom, and I with Luke. My mom isn't home, neither is Annalea, so I call Cherrie! The thunderclouds are rolling in, however, and by the time we head back out around 5:45, it is raining with a little thunder and occasional lightning.
Peggy and dog Niko come over around 6 for our final "happy hour". We visit for about an hour - our first official entertaining in the trailer! We break up to view a glorious rainbow arching complete across the sky to the south - and a double rainbow faintly visible above it. Pretty neat.
All in all - a relaxing, no pressure day!! NOW we are on vacation!