Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Escape to Lake Dillon

A Summit County Visit

We finished month two of our three month stay in Buena Vista and a getaway was needed. Mike found two nights in one of our favorite campground on Lake Dillon and another night open in another forest service campground for one more night. We always hated to leave when we were working and still feel the same.
We avoid Breckenridge at all costs now. Real estate developers have caused the town to be overcrowded and not a pleasant experience, no matter how beautiful it is.
We woke early to avoid the crowds for a bike ride from Frisco to Keystone along the lake. Once we hit Keystone we kept going up, Mike a few more miles than me, towards Montezuma. The last mile to the top gets pretty steep and would put us over 30 miles. 
Dillon Marina
Dillon Marina
Summit County maintains a 38 mile paved Recreational Pathway System with elevations ranging from 8,777 feet to 10,563 feet. It can get pretty busy with runners, families with strollers, tourists riding to take in the views. Over 200,000 trips are taken on the Recpath connecting many resorts and transit stops each year between May and October. If you get tired, you can catch the bus back.

We passed on the savory crepes and went straight for the sweet ones when we returned to Keystone. Nutella, coconut and banana for Mike and strawberry Nutella crepe for me before the last 10 miles back. 

The monsoon season arrived bringing rain showers in the afternoons.
Our Heaton Bay campsite overlooked the osprey and eagle nests that we check out on our visits. This time there happened to be a lot of strange noises coming from across the inlet. We could see several heron nests. Herons are thought to be nesting at higher altitudes due to warmer climates
Great pictures Mike!
Walking or sitting along the shore watching the people in kayaks and birds with a cool breeze makes everything better. 
Our campgrounds didn't have hookups. We have our little solar panels and inverter (a birthday present a few years ago) to keep our electronics charged.
For our third night, we moved a few miles across the lake to Peak One and it was as nice as Heaton Bay. We could carry our chairs a short distance to the shore and read or watch the kids riding their bikes around and around. When we are there, it doesn't feel like there is a pandemic.
It was a short and wonderful way to get our travel bug fix. We have three days booked in two weeks and no changing campsites. It is only 60 miles away!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Hagerman Tunnel Hike

Another Ghost Town?

 As more and more people continue to get outdoors to recreate, Colorado had a major change starting July 1, 2020 for anyone who wants to access a State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land. Any visitor 18 or older will now be required to have a valid hunting or fishing license to be on the land.

As Colorado's population continues to grow the state’s trails and wildlife areas are feeling the impacts of increased visitors.

One of the biggest issues with the other wildlife area is that people don’t stay on the trails. They like to kind of go wherever they want to go and that’s a big impact, that’s really pushing wildlife away. For visitors from out of state that can be $80-90 each person.

The Hagerman Tunnel Trail was next on our list of trails to hike. We drove to Turquoise Lake near Leadville, taking the Hagerman Pass turn off to the Windsor Lake Trailhead 3.5 miles down a dirt road. It wasn't marked very well but it lived up to our hopes of a nice hike once we figured out which trail to take.

The signs are hard to read, so I interpreted them for you below.
Born in 1883 and died in 1921 the Colorado Midland Railway was the standard gauge over and through the Colorado Rockies. It had less than 350 miles of track. Never made any other excited the imagination of railroad lovers as have other railroads in the nation- the section of railbed that you are about to
walk over leads to fallen in snow sheds over trestles no longer in existence to the lofty Hagerman tunnel, 11350 feet above sea level that pierced the Rockies.
In your walk you will see the almost forgotten site of a magnificent wooden trestle 1084 feet long.

We started up at a gradual climb in the Mt Massive Wilderness, making this an easier hike with less elevation gain (675 feet in 6 miles) than our past few. 

I wonder if we need a fishing license to hike here. 
The higher we climbed, the more impressive the views with a few water crossings that weren't too difficult.

I found some Columbine along with lots of other wildflowers.
I got a kick out of this sign. But what impressed me more was the fact that this was an actual town , way up in the mountains. It sounded like a wild place.
Typical of the short lived ghost towns for the Rockies- was Douglas City- It was built for Italian constructions workers who labored in this area and helped build the Midland Railroad,
Hagerman Tunnel and trestles. This one street "city" had eight saloons, mostly in tents and a dance hall. Here the "Professor" played the piano wile the ladies of the evening too jaded for Leadville entertained and took the laborers' money. The wild city was the scene of drinking, shooting fighting and knifing and other innocent pleasures.

There are several cabin remnants left.

This is the east portal of the Hagerman tunnel, the highest railroad tunnel in the world at the time of its completion in 1887. The great tunnel is at 11,035 feet above sea level. Its cost $200,000 and was replaced. It is hard to read the rest until DANGER DON'T ENTER.
We didn't climb back to the tunnel behind me. The snow was too slick.

As we were exploring the remains of the town, Mike found this piece of a ladies leather boot and other items. We could imagine life then and left everything as we found it.

We found some great hikes high in these Rocky Mountains and are glad we had time to acclimate before attempting them.

Lunch with a view at the top of the hike overlooking Opal Lake.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Ghost Towns

Clear Creek Valley

Even though we are restricted in our travels, we can still explore where we are now. You would think that we had seen everything Colorado had to offer after living here for many years. But we found ourselves going to the same beautiful places that were in our comfort zones. Now we spend our days looking for places and trails we missed while living our regular daily lives.

I am taking my time posting on the blog since we aren't going anywhere soon. It is fun to go back and remember our days out. Kind of a do over. It is too easy to move on to the next adventure and not savor the one we just finished.

Driving north on highway 24 towards Twin Lakes, we passed a sign for Clear Lake and Vicksburg on county road 390. After some research we found that Clear Creek Canyon is full of ruins from Colorado’s early mining days. There are four remaining ghost towns in the canyon, which lies just west of Clear Creek Reservoir from Highway 24.

Clear Creek runs the length of the canyon to the Arkansas River. Miners began prospecting tributaries to the Arkansas River in the 1860’s. Most of the old mining towns reached their heyday around 1890. 

After turning off Highway 24, it was 9 miles of dirt road to Vicksburg and 14 to Winfield. The road was good until we entered the national forest. Then it got bumpy.
The first old town we reached on CR 390 is Beaver City, the first mining camp in Clear Creek Canyon. Two of the original twenty buildings remain.

Rockdale is also known at Crescent City mining camp.

Vicksburg and Winfield are the best preserved out of the four ghost towns.
Vicksburg was the second largest town in the canyon, with around 600-700 people during its peak. A museum is open some weekends during the summer. There’s also a recording outside that
tells the local history, available 24/7. Many of the cabins in Vicksburg are privately owned, and seasonally occupied.

 Missouri Gulch hike was steeper than we were prepared for but a nice stop.


Prospecting was done in the Winfield area in 1867, but the town didn’t reach it’s heyday until 1890. It had 1500 hundred residents and was the largest town in the canyon. There is a furnished school house and miner’s cabin, open on select weekends in summer.

Not a bad place for a picnic. The ghosts didn't even bother us.

That was some big avalanche!

I recently had a crown fall out while flossing. Imagine the stress I felt about going to the dentist. But first of all I had to find one that would see me. The short version was it went well. They wore N-95 masks and I felt a little uncomfortable taking off my mask around new people. A week later, I woke with a cough and stuffy nose. Benadryl took care of the allergies. When did I get so paranoid? Maybe too much TV news.

Who knew we had missed so much right in our own backyard while living in Colorado?
Not a bad way to end the day!

Cuenca, Ecuador

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