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.
Last fall flashed by before I could get any progress photos of the lot. Our mid-February spring weather stretch has melted all the snow off and I had an unexpected chance to catch up.
Sprocket models in the middle of our views to the east… hello, dear Cimarrons, I love you so. The sun comes up from behind those lovelies and they light up with alpenglow almost every night. There will be a coffee porch facing them.
Here’s a shot of the property looking southeast from the alley:
Looking northeast from the alley: the house will be in the center of the photo up by the street. Note that the dirt pile is gone along with all of the assorted logs and wood that were scattered on the property.
Here’s a (very skewed) panorama looking north from the property line.
And then, finally, a couple of views from the street. I’m going to try to be better about taking photos like this as things come together!
I get a lot of questions about what my life looks like these days. Most of them go something like “Wait, where do you live?” I get it, my life is a little bit complicated these days. It doesn’t fit into a nice pretty social media package that I can tie a bow on.
During the week, I am a teacher at a rural high school about 40 miles from Ridgway. I have a rental house in that town so I don’t have to commute back and forth everyday; it’ll be worth it from my house but paying Ridgway rents + commuting is just too much! I lease the house with a roommate that is also a teacher at my school. We have another roommate for the winter that teaches skiing at Telluride. Since we’re all sharing the house, this brings costs way down for all of us. We’re all busy with work and traveling on our weekends so it all works out. Sprocket really likes having more people around to love.
During the week, I try to keep up my workout routine, stay on top of grading since I’m a failure at doing it over the weekends, do my laundry, and get enough sleep. I don’t have internet at my house so I’ve been a little bit better about reading books and a little bit worse at running up my cellphone data.
On Thursdays, I pack up the Jeep so that we can leave directly after school on Friday. Friday is the only day of the week that I drive to school; the rest of the week I walk the half mile each way. I hit the road at 3:30 and head for Ouray. I usually have time to make a quick pit stop at the post office in Ridgway and take Sprocket for a quick walk before I start work at 5pm.
Friday and Saturday night routines are similar: I close the shop, go home to the shed and feed Sprocket. Depending on how tired I am, sometimes I will go visit a local establishment for a drink before I retire to the shed.
Saturday and Sunday mornings have gotten a bit more difficult in the winter. I want to make sure Sprocket gets some activity and time to move around since he’s so cooped up while I’m working all the time but it’s also been really cold! I’m taking my cross-country skis back down to Ridgway this weekend so I’m hoping to get in some exercise with him more frequently before I go to work at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday, after we close up the shop, I head back to the town where I teach to do it all over again.
Crazy the things we do in order to make dreams happen, huh?
Sprocket is really bearing the brunt of me working a ton of hours so when I got off at 6pm one evening last week, we headed up County Road 9 to take a short hike on the Dallas Trail.
From the minute we pulled into Box Factory Park, this cheesy grin stuck itself to my face and didn’t go away for a long time. The air smelled absolutely amazing, the rain seemed to be holding off behind the Sneffels Range, and the wildflowers are out in force.
Sprocket loves our hiking runs where he sniffs his way up slopes and careens down the hills with his ears and tail whipping all over the place.
I think the two of us definitely needed that decompression time. I’m going to make a lot bigger effort to take advantage of all the hikes that are so close to me during these precious chunks of time.
To top it all off, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset on our way back to town:
Um. Hi? How is it already more than a week into June? The last few weeks have passed in a blur of washing dishes, waiting tables, mowing lawns, and working around the shed. While this isn’t quite a crazy adventurous live-in-the-Jeep-and-climb-mountains-all-the-time summer, so far I’m happy as a clam being home in little old Ridgway and Making Stuff Happen.
#shedlife is treating me quite well. Summer in Colorado has arrived which means upper 40s and low 50s sleeping temperatures in Ridgway; with a big old cuddly dog that’s about perfect! Friends have been super kind about offering up showers and laundry. Thanks to my #vanlife background whipping up a meal on the two burner is no big deal (plus I eat at the restaurant when I work a lot). Between work, the library, and the park, bathrooms have been no big deal.
Mostly, it’s good to feel like I’m home.
I’m going to have to splurge on a lantern of some kind for evening reading. After a long day of working and on rare occasion, hiking, after a half hour or so I’m usually nodding off but it’d probably be helpful to not be propping my flashlight up on my shoulder. I’m eyeing either Goal Zero’s Lighthouse or Lighthouse Mini… I’ll probably be pulling the trigger on something in the next couple of days so if you have thoughts about these two or something else, give me a shout soon!
In addition to everything else, I’ve been moving some dirt around and making things happen in the garden; update on that coming really soon. Sprocket has really taken to his property he stays but sits and intently observes anyone walking past us.
One step at a time, things are happening and I feel really great about what’s happening. Just please, remind me of this in October when I am very sad about my low hiking level this summer. Sprocket tries to guilt me everyday.
Sometimes it feels like life is really just out to kick you when you’re down. Last school year was that time for me; I went through a divorce, I was starting a new career, had to change schools, and didn’t do myself a lot of favors in terms of staying active and being positive. That is not how I mean to live my life.
Fortunately, when school got out last year, I launched myself into my county highpoint project driving a lot of miles around Colorado with Francis the FSJ. For me, a road trip is almost always a mood lifter and a time for thinking about life. (Lissie’s cover of “Pursuit of Happiness” was the soundtrack to many a long dark mile last summer and excellent reading for this post.) I landed in a great school for this year and made some real strides as a teacher. I tried to embrace my situation to make the most of this year.
My heart, however, remained nestled in Ridgway, my little town at the base of the San Juan Mountains. Out loud, I told my family and friends that I was resigned to a couple of years of being away but I knew that I had to try to move back sooner rather than later. It was getting harder and harder to keep my focus in the present than on how and when I could find myself back home. I only became more convinced as time went on that I was doing the right thing by working towards a forever home here.
Fortunately, I was recently hired for the 2016-2017 school year at a district much closer to Ridgway. In fact,it’s within not-insane commuting distance meaning that things are back on track for eventually building a home on my property. I want to see how things go at my new school year and continue to improve my financial situation before I build but the wheels are definitely turning.
Next week is my last week in De Beque. I’ve had fun exploring and being located on I-70 was convenient but I’m overjoyed to be going back home.
This summer is definitely one of transition. I’ve acquired a summer job (that I’ve been working hard at over the last month already!) at a restaurant in Ridgway working towards some of those aforementioned financial goals. I’ll be splitting my time between my property, a friend’s place in Montrose, and the road (of course!).
Because I’m tied to Ridgway quite a bit with a job (no complaints here!) most of my adventures will be tied to Colorado which is just fine since my main summer goal is more progress towards (finishing? maybe?) the Colorado County Highpoint list (I’m currently at 70.3% and itching to get out and do more)!
School is almost out and I’m busily wrapping up my life in De Beque. I had a lovely year there but I miss home in Ridgway. I’ve been going down quite frequently this spring, working on some projects and I’ve also taken on a side job in a restaurant. In between everything, I’ve squeezed in a few runs that just make me smile SO MUCH.
A couple of weeks ago, we got to the property just as town was going into shadow but the Cimarrons were starting to get that gorgeous low angle light.
Sprocket even mostly forgave me for running past the river since I promised him he could climb Mt. Sneffles this summer (pictured just over his shoulder).
I mean, really:
And then the moon rose over the Cimarrons. The photo does not do any sort of justice to how gorgeous the full moon was coming over some of my favorite peaks.
Just as it started to get dark, we finished our run at Colorado Boy where no one seemed to think it was the least bit odd that I’d get to town on a Thursday, run, have a beer, and then go back to my little shed home.
I cannot wait for this summer. I’ve missed you so much, Ridgway.
My friend Heather is training for her first marathon and I’m always seeing her posts on Facebook about wanting running buddies and it totally kills me; I want to but I’m just too far away for it to be practical most of the time. Last weekend, though, I was in Ridgway so I joined her for a 10 mile run. She left planning the route up to me so I made the most of the fact we’d have two cars and mapped out a route from Ridgway to the north end of Ridgway State Park at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk.
We’re really spoiled with a pathway that runs from Town Park along the river to the State Park that only climbs above the river and near the highway for a short distance. Otherwise, it’s quiet and relaxing down along the Uncompaghre. I’d never run in Ridgway State Park but there are really nice gravel and paved paths that run the whole length of the park!
We ran northbound because the general trend would be downhill but I’m not so sure that’s the best way! The elevation gain would be pretty minimal to go back to town except for the steep climb right at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk which I’d be fine with and then you’d look at these mountains the whole way. Talk about amazing.
Heather’s been running a lot with her marathon training and I really started to struggle a bit for my ninth mile. I alternated running and walking but was able to push through all of the final mile though. Besides, those aforementioned views didn’t hurt anything.
After we wrapped up the run, we loaded up the pups in the Jeep (Heather was dog sitting for Meadow) and took them down to the river.
Sprocket always loves the river:
After our swim time, we headed back north to get ready for the school week!
I swear on baseball, long walks outside, puppy cuddles, the scientific method and all else that is holy: these mountains will always be a part of my life somehow.
Here’s some photos from a hike Sprocket and I took at the end of March that somehow I just never got around to blogging.
Sprocket really enjoyed just walking along San Miguel County Road 62X sniffing everything!
Snowshoes on the pack rather than on my feet was pretty standard this winter:
On the far left in the distance are the Abajo Mountains near Monticello, Utah and on the right horizon are the La Sal Mountains above Moab (nearly impossible to see in the middle are the Henry Mountains but they’re there too):