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

Sunday, September 4, 2016

St Elmo Ghosttown

We knew that this area had a lot to offer as far as the outdoors but is also an interesting area with lots of tales to be told. There are plaques as we drive up Chalk Creek Canyon with stories about the Love Ranch and Agnes Vaille that show the hardy ladies of times gone by.
The Agnes Vaille Waterfall in the canyon along Chalk Creek is named after a hardy woman from the 1920s, who had spent time in Paris working with the Red Cross before moving to Colorado.
 Agnes Vaille was an experienced and fearless climber who had scaled a number of fourteeners. She 
decided to ascend Long Peak in January of 1925 but fell, sliding down a snowy bank more than 150 feet, she landed in the snow below and was immobile. When the rescuers came upon her frozen body, Agnes lay with her prized axe in her hand, her head pillowed on her knapsack. At that time, aids such as sophisticated protective gear and equipment for mountain climbers, were not available.
 You can no longer hike to the falls since the trail was closed and rerouted after a family of 5 were killed in a rock slide in 2013. There is now a trail to view the waterfall named for Agnes by a friend who owned the Love Ranch nearby.

Another peaceful place to lay our heads or at least we thought so. I was glad that we were on the opposite side of the campground from the rock slides. Kind of silly to think that short distance would make a difference if it decided to let go again. But our peaceful nights in a very dark valley were disturbed by a critter that won. He would climb under the front of the end cap into the walls and party all night. The second night when he showed up, he was a little less rowdy but convinced us to leave before the third night we had paid for. I bet he went back into his hole and high fived the other mice that he beat us down. He actually creeped me out a lot.
Cascade Campground is way up in that valley between Mt Princeton and Mt Antero, both 14ers. We had no Verizon signal, hookups or neighbors, other than the mouse. The nights were as dark as a cave until the stars came out.

We took the short drive of 6 miles up a dirt road to the ghost town of St Elmo after we got settled at our site.

 Nearly 2,000 people settled in this town when mining for gold and silver started. The mining industry started to decline in the early 1920s, and in 1922 the railroad discontinued service.  It is one of Colorado's best preserved ghost towns. Now, there are 8 full time residents.

This is 4 wheeler paradise with people from all over the US. One guy from Minnesota asked if we knew where to get "high". I guess we looked a little loopy from the altitude. I suggested he check in the general store. Then, they headed up Tincup Pass....

The walk from the campground along the old railroad bed was a nice easy 2-3% grade overlooking Chalk Lake and Mt. Princeton.


 We were feeling stiff and with the discounted rate for Monday thru Thursday and very few people, who could pass a day at another hot springs.
 The Mount Princeton Hot Springs were first frequented by Native Americans.

In 1860, a way station, hotel, and freight depot were built near the site of the present hotel to serve freighters traveling over Tincup Pass, bound for the mines of Ashcroft and Aspen; and over the Altman Pass toward Gunnison.

We climbed down along side the creek to soak in the rocks.

The bathhouse

The grayish white Chalk Cliffs emerge from Mount Princeton and are unlike any other mountains in Colorado. Though they look like chalk, they’re actually made of granite, which changed colors when other minerals leached out of fractures. Legend has it that gold was hidden in the cliffs’ crevices by 17th-century Spaniards and is yet to be rediscovered.

We had planned another day with a hike or a visit to Buena Vista but the mouse won. Creede is not too far down the road and we now have mothballs.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

High in Mueller State Park

Teller County is such a great place to spend time if you enjoy the outdoors and
not a lot of people. We lived in Woodland Park part time for 12 years before
moving to Colorado Springs and had met so many nice people that I miss spending time
with. Mueller State Park was one place that we would hike and I wanted to return and
stay in the beautiful campground. It is such a nice place to stay with many hiking trails and amazing
views from any direction. Our drive from Colorado Springs was only 55 miles but what a
difference. We left an elevation of 6500 feet to 9500 in our drive with much cooler temps.
Nice big campsites with a view

Mueller State Parks has 50 miles of trails provide a 5,000-acre playground for the hiker, mountain biker, wildlife watcher and winter sports enthusiast. A popular Watchable Wildlife Area, Mueller is home to elk, black bear, hawks, and mule deer. The programs given by the naturalists were quite interesting in the evenings. We also heard that they did a nice job leading the hikes.

Where did summer go?

 The ruins of Dynamite Cabin is set back in the trees.  This cabin was used in the late 1800’s as temporary shelter for hunters and trappers.  When the Mueller family owned this land, they found a box of dynamite hidden in the cabin, thus the name Dynamite Cabin.

Dome Rock State Wildlife Area borders the southern part of Mueller and has some wonderful
hiking as well as other trails all along the highway to Cripple Creek. We were once again disappointed to have such a short stay. But with all that we wanted to do in Colorado in the short summer,we were glad for the time that we did spend here.

Monday morning we woke to temps in the 40s and more storms rolling over the snow covered
Pikes Peak. Fortunately, Monday, we hurried out the door for a hike. We had planned 7 miles but
cut it short after 5 due to the storms rolling over Pikes Peak. 1/2 mile from the end of the hike the skies opened up. We pulled out the rain gear and picked up our pace. As we returned to the
trailhead, two carloads of people were putting on their rain coats to start a hike. We
just looked at each other and shook our heads as thunder clashed and lightening lit up the sky.

Old Cheeseman Ranch homestead on the north end of Mueller can be reached by a 5.5 loop thru aspen and pines.


It was August and the leaves were changing and snow on Pikes Peak.

Colorado has been in a drought for 10 years that seems to have broken with all of the rainfall
this summer after a wet winter. We had plenty of lightening and thunder for the two days we were
here. That's Colorado in August.

Colorado has been in a drought for 10 years that seems to have broken with all of the rainfall
this summer after a wet winter. We had plenty of lightening and thunder for the two days we were
The rain wasn't a bad thing after all of the hiking and bike riding we had done last week.
We wish we could go everyday but sometimes we just need to rest. Insomnia is not a problem for
us. Well, maybe when the thunder clashes all night. Wait I slept thru that too.

We would watch the thunderstorms roll in everyday.


What a view from Grouse Mountain after a nice 1.5 morning walk. We could see the Collegiate Peaks, Sangre De Cristos and Pikes Peak with just a turn of our heads.

Mike found the cache. I wasn't putting my hand in there. I am not giving it away with this picture. There are many spots that look just like this all around.

I like when the GPS makes the sound that you are there.

It was 41 degrees when we woke up. The sunshine is the best while watching the fox trot by every morning.