With all my focus on getting the house built, my Colorado county highpoint quest was temporarily delayed. (Over a year has past since I grabbed Pikes and Devils Playground!)
When I managed to find myself with a three day weekend, I started scanning my list deciding where I should go. I finally settled on Clark as a primary objective and getting something else (perhaps a third try at Pettengel) if my old pup was up for two consecutive days of hiking. Clark Peak is not quite a 13er, measuring in at 12,951′ but it does have the dubious distinction of being the “tallest Colorado peak this far north” aka there are no peaks in Colorado north of Clark that are taller. A much less random assertion is that Clark is also the highpoint of the Medicine Bow Range.
I’d heard rumors that the 4×4 road approaching the trailhead to Jewel Lake was in pretty rough shape so when I entered State Forest State Park in the waning daylight hours I didn’t really know what length of hike we were in for the next day. As it turned out, I was able to make it 2/3 of the way up the 4×4 road and on some more examination on the way down from the peak in the morning, I’m pretty sure the obstacle where I stopped was totally do-able by Ruth (although perhaps a spotter would have made me more apt to take it on) and was also the last piece of any consequence on the drive.
The hike up to Jewel Lake went quickly and I refrained from letting Sprocket swim as I wanted him to save his energy for the stiff climb from the lake to the summit (about 1600′ in less than a mile!).
The weather was glorious so we didn’t hustle ourselves too hard up the grassy slopes, pausing frequently to enjoy the view.
I tried to spend some time at the summit but Sprocket seemed anxious to get moving so I took some photos and we started to make our way down the mountain.
Clark Peak marks my 48th highpoint in Colorado. Of the ones I have left Blanca Peak (and its associated slope point) is the highpoint of three counties and Crestone and East Crestone can be combined leaving me with 13 more outings. I’m going to try and get a couple more in 2017 but summer 2018? It’s on.
Working at Mouses I frequently get asked about hikes to do in the area. One of the ones that I am always asked about is Blue Lakes Trail.
To be honest, I’ve basically avoided this trail. If everyone is asking about it, it must be overrun. (I’m not wrong, my friends saw over a hundred cars there a few weeks ago!)
I didn’t get a terribly early start but it was early enough that there wasn’t a ton of traffic on the trail. I could see why it was a big deal; the views are incredible and its steep but not insane.
Sprocket was out of his mind. He had hiked and there was a lake. And then there was another lake.
The thing we learned is that there aren’t any sticks at alpine lakes and that breaks dogs hearts.
I look forward to doing this again… but probably in the fall when we can have it to ourselves again.
An evening sunset hike of Baldy Peak is a lot easier than a long haul snowshoe of it.
Despite working until 11pm the night before, I agreed to a 5:15 hiking meet up with my friend Dave. We had a bit of a miscommunication about where to meet up so we didn’t quite start hiking until a little bit later.
We headed up toward Richmond Pass gaining elevation rapidly in the trees.
Being above treeline never hurts so despite being rather tired and undertrained I had zero complaints.
“Sometimes in life, both at school and afterwards, fortune will go against anyone, but if he just keeps pegging away and don’t lose his courage things always take a turn for the better in the end.”
–Teddy Roosevelt (in a letter to his son Kermit)
My mom decided that she wanted to see my house at the very beginning before coming back to see the finished product! I picked her up on a Tuesday afternoon and we had a lovely day shopping in Ouray, having lunch at Timberline Deli, and then taking a little jaunt up Yankee Boy Basin.
The next day, we drove up over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. We made a stop at Ironton ghost town, at the pass and then at Mineral Creek on the way back north.
Back in Ridgway, we hung out at the shed for a bit before going to Colorado Boy for dinner. Mom got to meet so many Ridgway people!
The next day, we had to go up to Montrose to look at window colors and make a few other house like decisions. Once we got back, we relaxed for a bit, had dinner at Provisions, and then went to Ouray for the concert. The main band was awesome and we danced a lot. It was a great way to wrap up Mom’s trip to Ouray County!
After I’d finished reading about Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco and the Pueblo Revolt, I wanted to know more about Dominguez and Escalante and their explorations that had been the basis for my favorite Miera y Pacheco map. I knew that Western Reflections Publishing had a couple of books about the expedition so I headed to my local bookstore to pick one up. Turns out the book I was picturing was the actual journals (which they didn’t have) so I ended up with Wilderness Wanderers: The 1776 Expedition of Dominguez and Escalante by Ken Rehyr.
I ate up this slim volume.
Dominguez and Escalante were both Franciscan friars charged with finding a more northerly land route to the Californian settlements (essentially avoiding the el Camino del Diablo, I think?). They also set out to convert as many of the Native Americans along the way as they could (while recognizing that this would be a first contact and that more missionaries would be needed for more long term conversion efforts later).
As it turns out, Dominguez and Escalante’s route remarkably overlaps with my home range. They traveled from Santa Fe up to Durango, then north through Dolores, Egnar, and Nucla before following a Ute guide over the Uncompahgre Plateau to Montrose. They continued over Grand Mesa from Hotchkiss to Battlement Mesa (all these places I know!) before turning west down the Colorado. They headed north through the Book Cliffs to what is now the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. They continued on to Utah Lake, near what is now Provo.
Leaving Utah Lake, they headed down what is today the I-15 corridor. Along the way, near Delta, the missionaries decided that they needed to head south to Santa Fe instead of trying to find their way to California. The weather was turning cold and they were not prepared.
They struggled their way across the Northern Arizona deserts finally finding a crossing of the Grand Canyon at Crossing of the Fathers (submerged under Lake Powell). Once across the Colorado, they managed their way across northeastern Arizona reaching the Oraybi pueblo on Third Mesa where they obtained enough supplies to reach the western most Spanish missions.
I found the story of Dominguez and Escalante incredibly inspiring. Lewis and Clark seemed to have much more of an idea of what to expect than these earlier missionaries. I can’t wait to dive into their journals … but I should probably put a pause on my book buying binge.
I recommend checking out this book while meandering around the greater Four Corners region, especially if you’re not overly familiar with the area. I really enjoyed my visual imagery of each of the places they passed through. I was also super inspired by how the author of the book had visited and rode his horse on much (all?) of the friars route. How cool is that?
I was sitting at a local establishment in Ridgway drinking coffee and planning to go for a hike later that day. The owner’s daughter sat down next to me and said, “What are you doing today?” I told her I was planning to go hiking and her response was “Is hiking fun?” Knowing full-well that she’d been hiking before, I called her bluff and asked if that was code for “Can I come?” She agreed it was and next thing I knew, we were a hiking pack of three for the day.
I had five miles or so planned for the day but that turned into just barely two and I was totally fine with it. Sprocket and Elsie are good buddies and we all had fun exploring a bit. Sometimes I wonder what kids ask their own parents because when they have a non-parental adult all to themselves they’ll have the craziest conversations. We talked about public lands and how they belong to all of us (but how you can’t build a cabin because that would make other people feel unwelcome). We talked about snow melt. We talked about soccer and how I was going to have a house and quit living in my shed. I hope Elsie enjoyed it as much as I did.
What do you do when you get to work a couple hours early?
I needed to go up to Ouray to take care of a few things and found myself with time to kill before work. I had two and a half hours before I needed to arrive so I headed up to the Chief Ouray Trail access in the Amphitheater.
The trail is only two miles long but it is steep and I was able to get in almost 2000′ of gain!
It wasn’t too too hot but I definitely worked up a sweat while taking in the awesome view.
I really loved the short shelf portion once the elevation gain was done! (I’m a weirdo who also likes shelf roads and standing on cliffs.)
Eventually, Upper Cascade Falls came into view.
Negotiating the slushy snow bridge right above a falls was interesting!
A little bit further I got to what I believe was the bunkhouse for the mine. Time was starting to feel a bit short so I turned around here and headed back to town.
Not too shabby for two hours on the trail.
When we got back from Oklahoma City, it was time to do some hiking! Sprocket and I parked at the Old Horsethief Trail near the Hot Springs Pool and headed up-up-up. Unfortunately the day was really windy so we only got up to the junction of Old Horsethief and Horsethief Trail. Instead we contented ourselves with just being happy in the mountains. It wasn’t hard.
Sorry not sorry for the obnoxious string of selfies.