Life These Days: Summer 2018

After what seemed like forever in the Northwest, I finally wrapped up projects at Mom’s house enough to come home. It was time for trail running and COLORADO SUMMER.

I was inspired to buy a Roomba to make my life better. First, I named it John, because white dudes should clean more. And then I realized that I loved John, so I renamed it “The Boyfriend”

I found time to read books:

And then heard that same Jonathan P. Thompson speak right here in my little town.

The FSJ Invasion crew came to Ouray:

I got to hold some pretty famous stuff. (Yeah, that’s MJ’s Wooden trophy and a Grammy base…)

Life is sweet.

Phew. Weekend Regroup.

Last weekend did not go exactly as planned…

I did give my Ignite talk at the Sherbino and it went fantastic! I hung out at Cimarron Books and Coffee grading on Friday morning.

And then the XJ I’d been looking for popped up in Denver so I canned my plan for a hike of Whitehouse on Saturday and jetted for Denver.

Saturday I bought the new Cherokee, rented a Uhaul tow dolly and began the drive home. Sunday I zoned out working on my quilt and then returned the tow dolly. I stopped for coffee and spilled the ENTIRE LARGE THING in my bag of papers.

So how was your weekend? I need a weekend from my weekend.

More from me soon. <3

Fall Color: Leadville to Aspen

After getting the Jeep running midday on Saturday, I loaded up Sprocket and we hit the road. We stopped briefly in Glenwood Springs to stretch a bit before pushing on to Minturn and the trailhead.

My vague plan was to hike Holy Cross but when the alarm went off at the trailhead on Sunday morning, I really just wasn’t feeling it. The weather was gorgeous, the leaves were amazing but I had no motivation to push myself at all.

What was in order was a day of epic leaf peeping.

I still wanted to be sure I got a hike or two in so since we were camped at a trail, we hiked it! The hike up to Half Moon Pass was a super enjoyable way to spend the first part of our morning in a super non-hurried fashion. I stopped at the top of the pass to enjoy the views and soak in the sunshine.

The drive back down to the highway was astoundingly beautiful. I’d gotten glimpses of aspens above I-70 on the drive east but after dinner at the Minturn Saloon, it was dark before I drove to the trailhead so I had missed the brilliant colors on the way up.

Since we had all day to explore, I turned south towards Leadville instead of going home via I-70. I stopped to check out the site of Camp Hale, the home of the 10th Mountain Division. I knew a little bit about the 10th Mountain Division but reading some of the signs at the historic site and at the memorial located at the top of Tennessee Pass reminded me of some things I’d learned watching Ken Burns’ “The War” several years ago. My grandfather loved history, especially World War II history, and to travel—I couldn’t help but think of him and how much he would have loved this interesting piece of history!

We poked around Leadville for a bit, checking out antique stores and enjoying a hot apple cider from City on A Hill Coffee. (Yes, Sprocket walks around antique stores with me.) After a bit, we continued on over Independence Pass. It looked a little different from when we were there in June!

The weekend felt really short because I was so embroiled in getting the Jeep running again but I’m so glad that Sprocket and I got out to enjoy the fall weather! You never know this time of year when the snow will start to fly!

Ouray FSJ Invasion: Maggie Gulch

Every year, a group of full size Jeep enthusiasts descends upon Ouray for a couple of days in July. I had absolutely no excuse to not attend since it is so close to home and I was excited to see more Wagoneers, Cherokees, and J-trucks!

I was able to join everyone for a barbeque dinner on Wednesday evening and a mellow ride up gorgeous Maggie Gulch near Silverton before it was time for me to head out for Ice Lakes Basin and the start of my county high point adventure. While my jeep isn’t pictured, this photo I stole from our Facebook group shows just how many FSJs were present! It was pretty cool:

Although I’ve done quite a fair amount of exploring in the Ridgway-Ouray area I haven’t driven any of the roads heading south out of Silverton. I am so glad to have gotten to head up Maggie Gulch; I’ll be back since there are a handful of 13ers that are pretty easy to access from the top of the road!

Maggie Gulch (also known as CR 23) is located about six miles east of Silverton. The road isn’t long and isn’t difficult at all but the views were absolutely incredible.

Sprocket immediately went into his classic alpine dog mode, sniffing his way through the tundra. As we were hanging out, a family showed up with a 12 week old puppy named Clifford. Sprocket and Clifford weren’t too sure about each other but I’m pretty sure that if they’d have had more time together, Sprocket would have been teaching him all about hiking:

Like many roads in the San Juans, this ends at an old mine. It’s always kind of neat to poke around and check out the old workings:

I really thought that they were kidding when I was asked if I wanted cheese crisps and ribs. No one was kidding.

Looking forward to next year!

Colorado Exploration: Rifle to Meeker

After we left the Mountain Games, it was time to head back to the Western Slope. I had a meeting Monday morning in De Beque but that left us all of Sunday for exploring. I had hoped to drive up to the Roan Cliffs high point but by the time we got to Rifle, it appeared that wasn’t going to happen so I holed up in a Starbucks to get some school work done.

When I came out of Starbucks, however, it was looking like things had cleared up so I did some quick Googling of the JQS Road. It was clear from the few things I read that the road was all but impassable when wet. But, I reasoned, it really hadn’t rained much so we set out to investigate. I walked the road for a little bit and decided that it seemed nice and solid, even a little bit dusty. Once we got past the parking area for the open OHV area though, the road turned to baby poo. (Seriously, baby poo is the name given to mud that is totally SLICK. It coats your tires and essentially renders you useless.) If you’ve ever driven a vehicle on a rutted, muddy road, you know the disconcerting feeling of drifting around vaguely where you’re steering but knowing you really have no control at all and that is exactly what was happening. Fortunately, I got the Jeep turned around with no issues (getting that beast stuck alone is a giant fear of mine), but holy cow what a mess!

It was only about 4:30 and that meant that I had plenty of daylight left with the gloriously long days this time of year. Rather than just sit down with my book, I decided to make the drive up to Meeker. I’d never been there and I’m always up for an exploratory drive so away we went. Meeker is a super cute little town—I didn’t really stop to take any pictures since I planned to take the scenic route home and wanted to have enough daylight but I will definitely be back to make a more full exploration.

Instead of simply going back the way we’d come, Sprocket and I headed down Rio Blanco County’s 13 Road. At first it was in great shape but as we continued south a couple of deep ruts appeared. Fortunately, this time the road wasn’t muddy and we were able to just keep on going. Somewhere along the way we passed into Garfield County but I couldn’t tell you exactly where because I was distracted by the elk. Lots of elk.

First it was this relatively small group:

But then it seemed like every field that I passed was full of them!

All I could think was how excited my dad would have been with the whole thing. I’m sure Sprocket was thinking I was driving like him with all the quick stops when I spotted a herd but since I would roll down the back window so he could have his sniffs, I think he forgave me.

We had such a great time. Besides high alpine hiking, there really isn’t much that I like better than exploring new dirt roads!

Summer! Roadtrip!: Part 2

Continuing our adventure from Ridgway to Green River! Check out Part 1 here.

At the top of the canyon, I was treated to some awesome views of the northeastern side of the La Sal Mountains. I’ve seen them from pretty much every angle but this one so it was pretty awesome. This area was gorgeous and I’m excited to come back this way to grab the Grand County highpoint (Mt. Waas).

This road was so much fun to drive. It’s in great shape and brought a new perspective to a sort of blank space in the middle of my home adventure region.

Just before total darkness, we dropped down into Castle Valley. It was a little odd to be here for the first time since my wedding to F and all sorts of feelings got raised during the drive through the valley. By the time we got down to the River Road though, the air was warm and I was cruising along the Colorado with the windows opening feeling like summer had arrived.

It was almost 11 when Sprocket and I pulled into camp off of old Highway 6 near Green River. He had a late dinner and we took a walk in the bright moonlight. It was fun to walk around without a headlamp but the moonlight doesn’t differentiate very well between damp sand and mud so I ended up with a bit of a spa treatment.

The sleeping temperatures in the desert were absolutely amazing. There was a soft breeze blowing through the jeep and the moon was streaming through. I was enjoying it so much it took me a long time to fall asleep but I slept hard once I did. I woke up to this happy dog checking out the view:

4×4 Roads: Right Hand Tusher Canyon

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get myself to the top of Wagon Road Ridge to claim the Bookcliff’s high point but that point is really in the middle of nowhere. I attempted to access it from the north at the beginning of May but was turned around because I was on tribal land without the appropriate permit.

I’d done some research on approaching it from Green River, Utah and I was excited to try it from there since I really love exploring the Bookcliffs but there appeared to be no good trail reports on the upper part of Right Hand Tusher Canyon Road. There was one post where the drivers abandoned their attempt mid-way up the road because they figured there was nothing up higher for them and another on Peakbagger.com that claimed that the road was really terrible and required high-clearance, 4×4, and possibly a locker or traction control.

I finally decided to go for it (and take Amanda along with me for the adventure). Of course, a road of unknown difficulty level is the perfect place to take a vintage Jeep on it’s first off road adventure with you. 🙂

It was a long dirt road that was occasionally a little bit rough but really wasn’t that much of a challenge. I used 4-wheel drive in one place to crawl over a couple of rocks and I used low range 4-wheel drive to drive one step hill with a little bit of a loose, washed out channel. Besides those two places, the road was a really easy drive.

This is the hardest part of the road, the rock is loose to the right and necessitates driving fairly far towards the “edge.” I tried going up with just my hubs locked but found I needed to shift into low range to make it easier. A locker may be helpful here but is certainly not necessary.

Immediately after a rain, I wouldn’t attempt this solo or without a winch since there are a few places that look like they might turn into some slick, deep mud but overall, it was a pretty drive up into the Bookcliffs (that accesses a prominence point! more on that soon!).

South Baldy

After work last Wednesday I just needed to get out and do something real. As soon as I got home, I changed, loaded Sprocket into the Jeep and headed out to explore along County Road 9.

It was a little blustery but after a long stretch of dreary weather, it was great to be outside.

I was able to drive almost to the end of the road. I decided not to drive through a giant mud puddle mostly because I didn’t want to wash the Jeep. But seriously, Francis looks at home here doesn’t she?: