[cdt-l] A quick trip through Colorado

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Sat Jun 23 00:54:25 CDT 2007

Just a brief update this time.  We've been wandering in Colorado for the 
past week or so, not visiting anything in depth, but mostly just passing 
through on our way north.  We had a couple of goals - one was realized, the 
other not, but it has still been a good section for us.

One goal was to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP - a deep, narrow 
canyon in western Colorado.  It has strikingly beautiful geology with an 
unnavigable green river 2000 feet below - very wild and untamed.  There are 
trails along the rim road which make nice short hikes with beautiful vistas, 
but the Park map doesn't show anything below the rim - though evidently 
there are routes there.  They just don't advertise them.   We only found out 
when I asked a ranger what all the cars were doing in a place where there 
were no people and was told that they were backcountry backpackers.  
Evidently they hide the trailheads - we saw only one trail down from the 

I also wanted to see the Maroon Bells area, and though we didn't get a 
chance to hike there, we did go to Maroon Lake to see the famous view and we 
camped nearby.  It was a gorgeous place and one we would like to go back to 
backpack another time.  It's near Aspen, which is a congested mess, but the 
drive from there to Twin Lakes over Independence Pass was gorgeous.

Since we were in the area we stopped in Leadville to stay at the hostel 
again.  It hasn't changed much.  It's still a peaceful hospitable place.  
The town's setting can't be beat, with the snow-covered mountains all 
around, but I think living at 10,000' would have its problems.

Our second Colorado goal was to hike the section of the CDT through Rocky 
Mountain National Park.  On each of our hikes we've continued straight 
through the Park instead of doing the 30 mile detour through the park.  We 
wanted to see what we were missing.  That goal wasn't realized.  We went to 
get a permit and were told that the trail is still closed because of too 
much snow.  The switchbacks are too dangerous and they wouldn't give us a 
permit.  We dayhiked instead along the CDT from Green Mountain TH to 
impressive Granite Falls - but it wasn't the backpacking trip we had hoped 
for.  We saw a lot of snow all through Colorado.  Parkview was gorgeous with 
snow cornices along the ridges, and Mt. Zirkel Wilderness looks more like 
winter than spring right now.  Since we saw snow there at the end of July 
last year, it wasn't a surprise.  We did enjoy the drive through the Park, 
from the east side to the west.  It's a gorgeous drive, with some beautiful 
views, especially of the well-named Never Summer Range.  On our CDT hikes we 
barely touched the Park - it is worth spending some time there.

One compensation for the missed hike was the wildlife.  The Park's elk herds 
are famous, and we probably saw 100 or more in two days of driving through 
the park.  We've seen a lot of wildlife lately, both in groups far away and 
up close and personal.  Of course, that means Ginny has been very happy as a 
result.  On our hike on the CDT in RMNP we saw five moose - a bull with 
beautiful velvet antlers, a cow with a young calf, a young male with budding 
antlers, and another female.  We saw a herd of bighorns high on a ridge 
above us on another  day hike at Rocky Mountain NP.  At Black Canyon of the 
Gunnison we were charged by a bighorn - twice.  He swerved each time, but he 
was definitely trying to scare us off.  So we left.  We saw about 40 
antelope today as we drove north to Wyoming.  We even had deer wandering 
through the campground in RMNP.

We're on our way to Dubois to hike the section of trail we missed last year 
because of the Purdy fire.  That section should be clear of snow by now.  
We'll let you know how it goes.

Walk softly,

Ginny and Jim


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