"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Showing posts with label cycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cycling. Show all posts

Friday, July 27, 2018

High altitude

Rocky Mountain High at 10,000 feet

It felt good to be back in our old stomping grounds where our kids grew up skiing. As we stood on the Continental Divide, looking down on Monarch Ski Resort, the memories came back making me nostalgic.


Turquoise Lake

On our last visit to Turquoise Lake, we rode in the Buena Vista Bike Fest put on by our Colorado Springs Cycle Club a few years ago.  The 100 mile ride started in Buena Vista to Leadville, around Turquoise Lake and the Mineral Belt Trail and back to BV. This time we enjoyed a shorter ride.

We loved the peaceful feel and cool temps of our USFS campground. Most of the people chose to stay in the campsites along the lake. We were good with Father Dyer campground on the hill and would go to the day use area to enjoy the lake.

In the 1890s, the discovery of gold brought the first miners to this two-mile high city, but it was the discovery of silver that made Leadville the nation's wealthiest city at the time.
 When Oscar Wilde entertained his audience at the Tabor Opera House, more than 40,000 people lived in Leadville! Our population is a lot less now.
The legends of the West were no strangers to Leadville: Horace and Baby Doe Tabor, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid and even a John W. Booth whose headstone graces Evergreen Cemetery.

Leadville's Mineral Belt Trail

The Mineral Belt Trail is 11.6 mile with numerous trailheads and access points. Approximately six miles of this trail meanders through the historic Leadville Mining District with views of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges. We added a route around Turquoise Lake and were sucking air when we reached 10,606 feet elevation. Who needs oxygen?

We did some heavy breathing on the climb but was worth the downhill and great views.

Horace Tabor and Baby Doe's Matchless Mine was quite a story of rags to riches to rags.

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, a Victorian-era mining town, was once home to 30,000 residents. In its heyday, it had saloons, dance halls, and brothels. Thanks to the profiting gold and silver mines, there was also a lot of wealth, which afforded the construction of hotels, Victorian mansions, and the Tabor Opera House.
70 square blocks of Leadville’s downtown were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Since then, extensive preservation efforts have put much of the town’s rich history on display. With such notable structures as the Healy House, Heritage Museum, Delaware Hotel, and Tabor Home a walking tour should have been in order. I think we will be sure to catch it the next time we return.

The altitude was starting to affect me by the third day. We headed down to Buena Vista.

Buena Vista, CO

Buena Vista is located in central Colorado in the Upper Arkansas River Valley, often referred to as the "Banana Belt", due to its relatively mild winters.  Buena Vista lies in a wide valley and is a high mountain desert at the base of the 14,000+ peaks of the Collegiate Peaks, Mt. Princeton, Mt. Yale, Mt. Columbia, and Mt. Harvard, of the Sawatch Range. In summer, Buena Vista is a popular access point for world-class whitewater rafting, kayaking, and fly fishing on the Arkansas River, and mountain climbing and backpacking on local 14ers and the Colorado Trail. Sizable elk and deer herds attract hunters in the winter months, and bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and antelope are also indigenous to the area.
Buena Vista  grew as a railroad town serving the local silver, gold, and lead mining industry, with three rail lines. Many of the existing buildings of Buena Vista date back to  the 1880s and 1890s.

 We passed this old school house of days gone by on our 23 mile bike ride on the backroads to Mt Princeton Hot Springs. It was much easier riding at an elevation of 7900 feet after being in Leadville.

These Pronghorn were waiting for us to pass so they could catch up with the rest of the herd across the road. They are not jumpers like deer but got through the fence just fine.

The downtown has been rejuvenated over the years. The prices in the restaurants reflected this. 

The decorating reflected the cycling community in this area.

You can't beat the many good food trucks.
We met several couples at the Snowy Peak RV Park that come for all or part of the season. The time slipped by as we shared good wine, good cheese and good stories.
Our time here was too short and we booked a return trip when the leaves start changing before we leave Colorado.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Gunnison, Colorado

Escaping the heat

We cut our time in Ridgway State Park short by a few days because of the heat and headed east.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

We hiked the trail along the south rim with steep drop offs into the deep gorge that are shorter than we usually take. The trails to the river were over my head getting back out. It's a long way down and further up.

Cycling Gunnison's back roads

When we started our bike ride through the farms towards Crested Butte, we had no idea where we would end up or how much we would enjoy it. Fifteen miles into the ride I didn't think Mike was going to want to turn around and suggested that he carry on. I knew the way home and knew he would eventually catch up with me.

He did turn around and catch up with me while I was having a drink in the shade. We thought a return trip might be in order.

Crested Butte's Oh Be Joyful Trail

It was the last day of Crested Butte's Wild Flower Festival. In past years the flowers were huge and amazing. This year we were catching the end of the bloom but still very nice. The Oh Be Joyful Trail is a nice trail through a glacial valley which becomes greener and more lush as we climbed. The waterfalls were flowing down the mountainsides. We passed a few hikers returning from their weekend camping trip at Blue Lake seven miles up the trail.

Slate River was running too high to walk through. I wasn't thrilled about hiking six miles in wet boots. Besides, we have a 4x4.

We are heading in.
Coming out the other side.
Our visit to Gunnison and Crested Butte were a little shorter than we could have wanted but the high altitude was calling.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Grand Teton National Park

So much wildlife 

We had passed through Grand Teton National Park going to or leaving Yellowstone in the past and had mentioned that this park deserved a little time too. Finally, we made it back.
Lodging is very expensive in Jackson and the Teton Lodges. A couple from Australia told us that they were only staying two nights because the only rooms they could find were $300 per night. 
Some of the campgrounds are first come first serve and mostly dry camping. Gros Ventre is a huge 330 site campground but does not feel crowded and is only 12 miles from Jackson. Arriving early, we scored an electric site for $39 per night.
We usually avoid the busiest national parks but found this place to be much less crowded than expected by hitting the trails early. Also, many people head to Yellowstone after a quick peek here. Our four day stay turned into eight as we had no desire to leave this beautiful place with cool temps and still so much to see.

Jackson Lake in the morning

The multi use paths in the national park runs to Jackson and beyond making getting around easy. Our ride across Windy Point lived up to its name. I wondered if I would get blown off a couple of times.

The mandatory antler arch picture

Our hikes took us to several lakes. We arrived at Jenny Lake for an early morning boat ride to the falls and hiked back.

Almost every day, we stopped along the river to watch moose. On the way back from our bike ride, the twin moose were chasing each other and splashing in the river. They were so fast and funny to watch.
 We watched the four frolicking otters roll around each other for a while on Jenny Lake.
 The beaver in Moose Pond was serious and was not detoured from his work.

Getting wildlife pictures with our little camera is not easy. The coyote that stopped on the road to check us out on our bikes was not going to wait for me to stop and pull out the camera. The bear in the campground had better things to do than have his picture taken. It is just fun to see them.
It is a little difficult to make out the osprey in the nest. We would watch one fly out and around while the other enjoyed the sunshine in the nest.

There were too many pictures of the animals to choose to post.

There were two fawns but only one would hold still for a few seconds. They were so small and young, looking back at us as we walked down the trail.
Our hikes took longer than usual with all the views and critters to watch.
On our hike to Taggart Lake, we decided and additional 2.5 miles to Bradley Lake would be ok and headed further back into the forest. As the forest got thicker, so did the mosquitos. We didn't stop for long even with mosquito spray all over us. They were in attack mode.

Taggart Lake

Jenny Lake
Feeling inspired at Inspiration Point

Phelps Lake Huckleberry Overlook

The wildflowers were fabulous.
Oxbow Bend


Moulton's Barn on Mormon Row

It would  have been easy to be drawn to Yellowstone but there was plenty nearby to keep us happy and were glad we extended our time here.