[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.
Ginny and Jim
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