Sunday, July 27, 2008

Slumgullion Earthflow

I've always been fascinated by the Slumgullion Earthflow. It's a geological event of great importance that happened in relatively recent time. At left is Mesa Seco, part of the Cannibal Plateau (more about the "cannibal" part in another post), which is the headwall for the earthflow. You can see where it just broke off and slid down. Lake San Cristobal was formed by the dam created by the Slumgullion Earthflow.

This is a section of the earthflow that geologists consider to be still active. They can tell that this is so be observing the leaning trees and measuring the movement of large sections of the earthflow, much like you would measure a glacier. When I was here in 1978, there were still markers like a fence across the earthflow, but they've since been removed.

This is a great diagram of the earthflow.

This photo on the interpretive sign was taken from the east-facing canyon wall.

Maybe I'll have to try this recipe!

Lake City, surrounded by mountains

Lake City is one of Don's favorite places to go, because of all the fabulous fishing opportunities. One of them is Lake San Cristobal, Colorado's second-largest natural lake. (It's not a reservoir, and is currently the center of a lot of local controversy about that fact.)

Grassy Mountain, on the left, and Red Mountain on the right.

Five 14'ers, or peaks over 14,000 feet, are close to Lake City. In the picture at left, the biggest one (in the center) is Uncompahgre Peak, and two peaks to the left of it is the Wetterhorn.

It's a little hazy, but that's Lake City in the center of the photo, with Crystal Peak above it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mirror Lake

Just a few miles from Taylor Park lies this lovely little alpine lake - Mirror Lake. It's on the way up to Tincup Pass, and sees crowds of ATVs and dirt bikes go by.

The fishing pressure is pretty high because it's so easy to get to, but you can't put a boat on it, and Don was the only one out there with a float tube. He had great success, catching lots of rainbows and cutthroats. He even caught a couple of brook trout out of this lake.

Taylor Park - Views that go on forever

Sometimes you just get lucky as to where you park your trailer. We reserved this site back in March, not knowing that we'd soon buy a trailer with a huge window in the slide. This was a back-in site, and if we'd had a typical trailer or motor home, the "back" of it would have faced this view. Ours did, but we had the big picture window in the slide to look out at this scene.

This is at Lakeview Campground, overlooking Taylor Park Reservoir, about 25 miles northeast of Gunnison. We have electricity, but no water or sewer. No problem. With a view like this, who can complain about anything?

Don has fished the upper Taylor River numerous times, and about 7 miles north of the lake are the Potholes, which he likes to float in his tube. One day was spent on Spring Creek, the next canyon over to the west. We've also gone to Crested Butte - seems I just have to go at least once each time we camp at Taylor Park. There are great little stores, a coffee shop with WiFi, and a shoe store that's sold me all 3 pairs of Keens. This year I got an open-toe thong Keen. They're the only non-Birkenstock shoes I can wear. We ate a wonderful lunch at the Brick Oven - and now I have to try to duplicate the hot Italian sausage sandwich Don ate.

Late afternoon/early evening, after a mild thunderstorm, we watched the clouds move in and sit on top of the Collegiate Peaks to the north. If you enlarge the picture or look closely, you can see how the clouds have rolled over the tops of the peaks and are spilling down the south-facing slopes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Monarch Pass

One of the "easiest" passes over the Continental Divide to drive (compared to Wolf Creek Pass, which I think is one of the most difficult), Monarch Pass tops out at 11,312 feet. We've gone over it several times, and we like to stop for a break at the gift shop/cafe. This time, I bought a necklace and some fudge (maple nut - the best!). We decided that since we weren't in a hurry, we'd ride the tram that goes to the top of a nearby mountain. It's a small, short ride but the scenery from the top is fabulous. This shot is of Mount Aetna (the tallest), and Taylor Mountain to the right. Monarch Pass is where Dad and I started our ill-fated backpacking trip along the Continental Divide back in 1977. We got about 3 miles into it, and ran into deep snow. It was too deep to continue so we gave up and hiked back to my truck. His truck was parked at Marshall Pass, so we went to fetch it and he went back home to Texas.

This is looking west from the top towards Gunnison. The large dome in the middle is called Tomichi Dome, formed by the pushing up of a lava intrusion millions of years ago.

This was taken as we were coming down the tram.

Turquoise Lake

One of our favorite places to visit when we come to Colorado is the town of Leadville - a former mining town at 10,000 feet, known as the highest incorporated town in the United States. It's large enough for a City Market, but the only fast food place is a Subway. (No McDonalds!) It has two museums, and numerous historical sites to visit, as well as a small movie theater, an indoor swimming pool, and the best steak restaurant we've ever been to, Quincy's. West of town about 7 miles is Turquoise Lake, which has 6 campgrounds on it. But since all are located in a dense lodgepole forest, you don't feel crowded at all. We stayed at Baby Doe campground, and had a site about 70 yards from the edge of the lake. Don was able to launch his float tube easily. In the picture a top left, the mountain on the left is Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado. The larger mountain on the right, mostly hidden by the closer ridge, is Mount Massive.

We took a trip around the lake and stopped at this viewpoint for a bit. A woman who also stopped there offered to take our picture for us.

This is the view just a few yards from our campsite. I love weather, and enjoyed watching the rainstorms move across Mount Massive.

Also taken from the same place as the previous picture, this shot looks west towards Hagerman Pass and the Frying Pan watershed just behind the closer mountain (and underneath the dark clouds).

If you're into fly fishing, there are so many great places to fish here: Turquoise Lake, the Arkansas River, Emerald Lake, Half Moon Creek, and Crystal Lakes. If you're like me and you like to shop, there are several really nice antique stores, a quilt shop, and some other smaller shops along the main street through town. I picked up several great pieces of antique linen at one store, and then found some newer linen pieces at the quilt shop.

Vega State Park and the Grand Mesa

Our second stop in Colorado was Vega State Park, east of Collbran on the edge of the Grand Mesa. Our only gripe about this place was the fact that in addition to the nightly camping fee, they charged a daily entrance fee for the park - something we hadn't seen before. In California, your campground fee covers the park entrance fee. Oh well. This campground and lake sits at about 9000', and we had a fabulous view from our trailer of the lake and the high plateaus to the south, east, and west. The sites are roomy and well-spaced, with water and electric hookups (there's a dump station nearby). In the picture to the right, Don's in his float tube on the lake.

See how nice the site is? No neighbors close by.

We were fairly close to the high lakes of the Grand Mesa. One trip we took was in search of grayling. The fishing guide we had said that there were grayling in Kitson Reservoir, so that was our first stop. Don gave it a valiant try, but unfortunately, we believe the lake was empty of fish from winter kill. There were plenty of bugs on the surface, and we saw absolutely zero fish coming up to feed.

So, our next stop was Neversweat Reservoir - fancy name, yes? Don had some success at this one. Since we were at 10,000+ feet, I was able to sit out in the sun and stitch while he was on the lake, but stupid me didn't put on sunscreen, and I burned my legs and the V of my neck. Lesson learned. Sunscreen purchased and applied liberally now.

A different day trip we went to Big Creek Reservoir - a nice-looking lake with lots of people and fish. But what drove us from there after only an hour or so were the mosquitos. They were HORRIBLE. You could hear the drone of billions of mosquitos - sounded like a roaring engine. It was a very wet winter, and we got there just as the mosquitos hatched. Ick.

But if you ever want to see hundreds of beautiful lakes at over 10,000 feet, visit the Grand Mesa. The guidebook says there are 300 lakes up there, and at least 100 of them hold fish.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Two Lovely Waterfalls

Hays Creek Waterfall, south of Redstone. This one is reminiscent of waterfalls in Utah, with the water cutting through the red sandstone.

This one flows out of a hanging valley just west of Marble, below the Raggeds Wilderness.

McGee Pond

We drove up to Marble the first evening we were at Redstone, and found this little pond just west of town. There was absolutely no breeze, so the reflection of the mountains was perfect.

Don tried his hand at this pond, but no luck.

This is why the pond has its name; the gravesite is just west of it.

Colorado - Where My Heart is Home

It's almost a physical sense of...what - relief? relaxation? joy? It must be all those - when we crossed the border between Utah and Colorado on the 70. I think it stems from living here as a child, and falling in love with the mountains. But here I am, for about the 15th summer (not consecutive), back in the place I love. After nights in Cedar City, Utah, and then Grand Junction, we set up camp on the Crystal River just north of Redstone - about 13 miles south of Carbondale. The photo to the right is from our front door, looking down-canyon. This is a great little campground - three loops of 8 sites each, with two of the loops offering electricity and water hookups.

This is looking east towards the red cliffs that form the western edge of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. A ranger who came by for a campfire talk told us to watch for bighorn sheep on those cliffs, but I didn't get to see any.

Looking west across the river at the other side of the cliffs - a red sandstone formation that forms a prominent hogback through the area.