Monday, August 31, 2015

A Few Days in Gunnison, CO


Our planned one night stopover at Stevens Creek to meet up with Debbie, Chuck and Carla again in Curecanti NRA near Gunnison turned into four nights, as we all had lovely sites on the water, the weather was great, and we just didn’t feel like leaving.


We hiked in Curecanti on the Dillon Pinnacles trail, and a couple days went to Hartman Rocks which is a BLM area very close to Gunnison that has endless dirt roads and trails. It’s popular for mountain biking but Jim wasn’t in the mood for all the hill climbing so we just hiked instead. And climbed around on all the rocks.








If you can drive your vehicle in, dispersed camping is allowed anywhere. Some of the roads are pretty rough and steep. Chuck thought we could get our Lazy Dazes up there but Jim wasn’t too sure.






This is one of the double black diamond bike trails.


It was hard enough just walking down it.



The Dillon Pinnacles trail in Curecanti is another good hike, not quite 2 miles to a close-up view of the volcanic-formed rock pinnacles overlooking Blue Mesa Reservoir. We forgot cameras so we just took a few bad photos with the phones.





Yesterday we parted ways with Chuck and Carla and Debbie, who went south. We wanted to explore some new territory to us and decided to head north to Twin Lakes, less than 20 miles south of Leadville, CO, but a thousand feet lower. We’re at the White Star Campground in the San Isabel National Forest, elevation 9,200’, where we found one of the few non-reserved sites that wasn’t under trees. We paid for three nights but may stay through the Labor Day weekend unless we find something better as we go out exploring the area today.

Twin Lakes and Leadville, CO

One of the Twin Lakes, Colorado's largest natural glacial lakes. Unfortunately only a few sites have partial views of the water.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

More Hikes Near Crested Butte


I was looking for a hike close to town in an area we hadn’t been and came across the Brush Creek trail. Just over two miles long, this fairly level out and back trail passes through the very scenic East River Valley.


At around 9,000’ the flowers were almost gone but it would be a nice walk earlier in the summer. The trail also passes through several aspen stands and would be a good hike when the leaves are changing.





This cow blocked the trail but Jim kept heading for her and she finally moved. They are so big they make me nervous, even though I assured her we don’t eat them.



The next day we took a drive up Gothic Road through the ski area and just past the former mining community of Gothic, which is home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded in 1928 and still doing research on plants, animals, and climate change. Our destination was the Copper Creek trail to Judd Falls and beyond.


We parked just off Gothic Road, which added another half mile to the falls, but Chuck drove their Jeep to the upper trailhead, a very rocky, rutted road. We saw a Honda Accord parked about 3/4ths of the way up but Jim didn’t want to risk the Subaru driving up there. Maybe we’ll get skid plates put on one of these days, which would lessen the anxiety of a rock puncturing the oil pan.

It’s a couple hundred feet of climbing to the falls.



But after that the trail levels off and continues on another 4+ miles to Copper Lake, or you can keep going beyond the lake for another 9 miles or so and be in Aspen.






We turned back after 3.5 miles. I tried but just couldn’t talk anyone into going all the way to the lake. There were several stream crossings, and on this one Jim and Chris decided not to follow the masses (Chuck, Carla, Debbie and me) and both ended up with water over their hiking boots.


An unexplained giant cairn on the side of the trail that didn’t appear to be marking anything.


Carla, demonstrating her skill at walking backwards.


We got out of Crested Butte before a couple of rainy days, and are now back at Steven’s Creek near Gunnison for shopping, propane, and laundry. Not sure where we’re heading next.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Scarp Ridge Hike


On Saturday we drove 6 miles up Kebler Pass Road from Crested Butte to Irwin Lake campground for the western (easier) approach to Scarp Ridge. With six people we needed to take two cars, which worked out well since Chuck, Carla and Debbie hiked two miles to a lovely basin, and Chris, Jim and I continued on another mile or so up to the ridge. The trail is really a rocky jeep road for over two miles but fortunately we were only passed by a few vehicles.

Crested Butte, CO1

It’s a fairly steep climb up the road where we passed a couple houses, waterfalls, and lots of flowers.




Prepared for the winter.


At around two miles the road levels off and to the right is a nice rock outcropping, where some other hikers were stopped to eat lunch. It was hazy over Lake Irwin.


We could see a faint trail ahead but weren’t sure if that was the way we should continue so I went to check it out.


The views into this beautiful basin just kept getting better.



This is where the other half of our gang decided to turn back for a little over 4 miles round trip. It’s a good workout with great views up to this point, but we wanted to get up on the ridge.


So up the steep road we continued, although it soon leveled off. We came to a fork in the road and asked some other hikers where the trail was. They said it depended upon where we wanted to go, either up to the ridge or up Ruby Mountain. Looking at the faint trail switchbacking it’s way up Ruby Mountain we chose the trail to the ridge. Maybe another day.


Then we soon lost the trail, crossed a patch of snow, and had to bushwack our way to the trail we could see in the distance. The people we asked for directions went a different way where they also lost the trail and ended up ultimately following in our tracks.

Crested Butte, CO2


After one more steep climb up we were on the ridge.



It is absolutely gorgeous up there.






Chris and Jim were finishing their lunch while I went off to see if we could get over to the next higher ridge where we could see people.



A Julie Andrews moment for sure.


There was a sheer drop and no way to cross so we figured there must be a way to cut across at a lower level. Again, that would be for another day.


A dark cloud moved overhead so we thought it best to start back down. We actually managed to stay on the trail all the way back. We had light rain for the last mile but just as we got to the car the sky really let loose.



We hiked just under 7 miles with 1,400’ of elevation gain. If we ever go back I think I would want to try the shorter but steeper middle approach to Scarp Ridge. It’s a little more climbing but gets you up even higher, which is always a good thing.