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

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Summit County

Hanging around

Frisco, Colorado

While living and working in Colorado Springs, we would always look forward to our time in the mountains of Summit County.  I would mention that I could easily stay much longer when it was time to leave. The bike paths take many different directions and the hiking trails could keep a person entertained for a long time.
Heaton Bay is our favorite USFS campground with water and electric hookups and just a couple of miles to Frisco and four to the grocery stores in Dillon and Silverthorn. 
Many mornings and evenings we could hear the osprey. We would walk down the lake and watch them catch fish and return to their nests. We have been watching one nest for several years and could see the kids grow. This year, we found a new nest as we were watching the osprey fish.

Mayflower Gulch

We have a habit of hiking many of the same trails. This time we made an effort to find some great new trails. Even though we had been at elevation for a couple of weeks, we were still moving slow as we started our hike to Mayflower Gulch on Fremont Pass climbing to 12,000 feet. We thought we could make it to the top of the mountain but weren't quite ready for 13,000 feet yet.

There were several mines in the area.

The Mayflower Gulch Trail is a direct trail into a basin surrounded by sawtooth peaks.  We started hiking up the dirt road through the forest and along a creek.  After about 1 mi, you break out of the trees, cross the creek, and are at an old abandoned mining town. 

The sawtooth ridge was impossible to ignore and we wanted to follow the trail as far as we could.  There are great views back down the basin of Jacque Peak and the ridge ahead is actually made up of Atlantic Peak and Fletcher Mountain. 

The Boston mine camp with many mine ruins and a gold-veined ridge that dazzled early prospectors.

Moving slow, very very slow

Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Part of the advantage of being on the road fulltime is being able to spend time with family. We usually stay at Chatfield State Park, not far from Highlands Ranch when we visit the grandkids. Of course, we had to stop and see Tyler and Kyle play their last game of baseball of the season.

They are too cute.


Tyler had a very good game. I was surprised at how well they played.
My sister Patty and I got a chance to catch up before she headed over to a concert at Red Rocks. We enjoyed getting to know Frank.


Old Dillon Reservoir


 Clinton Lake Gulch


We weren't acclimated to the altitude enough to climb to the ridge of Mayflower Gulch to look down on Clinton Lake Gulch. We decided to drive up the road a little father and hike around the lake near the mines.
Another gulch on Fremont Pass but easier trail.

The smoke gave us hazy but still incredible views.

We were surprised to see this Ptarmigan all nestled down by the trail. In the winter they turn white to blend in with the snow. I missed the owl that we saw up in a tree.

I had seen these mountain goats climbing on the rocks while bike riding. This day we saw them down along the creek. A couple of them kept butting heads. 

Bluegrass and Brews in Keystone

We made a stop in Keystone for the Bluegrass and Brews Festival on our 28 mile to Montezuma. There were three stages of music and so many distributers of beer and food through the streets.

Each mountain town has its own evening concerts in the parks or along the lake for free and weekend festivals. Our first month here went far too quickly.

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.