Road Tripping with a Dog: SW Colorado CoHPs

At the very beginning of the year, I declared that I was going to make it to 50% on the Colorado County Highpoint list this year. Because I’m moving to De Beque, the high points in Southwestern Colorado are about to be really far from me so I decided it was time to go on a bit of a mission to knock out a few, especially a group of three east of Pagosa Springs.

Sprocket, was more than happy to join me on this seemingly random adventure; the fact that he doesn’t judge my plans is one of the things that makes him the best road trip companion ever. Vermilion Peak was the point I was most worried about getting him to (but as it turned out, the weather intervened before we could find out) and the rest of the peaks I was sure he would love.

We loaded up in the FSJ and set out for a few days of wandering around gravel roads, sleeping at trailheads, summiting mountains, swimming in lakes, and exploring high alpine meadows—all Sprocket approved activities.

Throughout the week, I’ll be posting more about our specific adventures (an attempt on Vermilion Peak with an overnight backpack in Ice Lakes Basin, Summit Peak, Conejos Peak, and Bennett Peak) but the common denominator of each segment of our trip was being absolutely delighted to have my pup with me.

I was really worried last summer that Sprocket was reaching the end of his hiking days. He is only five but when we would go hiking, he seemed to just be in pain all the time. Happily, as fall approached, I realized that he was actually suffering in the heat and luckily, hiking at elevation in Colorado mostly avoids that issue. Not only has he bounced back from too many low elevation hikes last summer, he was game for two seven mile hikes on Saturday. I’m so glad that this is the case because there is nothing that can add to an already amazing alpine adventure like the sashaying of a happy laborador. (If you think I’m kidding, you have to come hike with us…sashaying happens.)

People always seem surprised that I travel so much with “such a big dog” but really, he couldn’t be easier. I pack him some food (Merrick Backcountry, lately), give him some water, and beyond that, I’m the lucky one. With Sprocket, I have a constant, patient, loving, cuddly companion. He’s game for hikes (and scrambles), relaxing in parks, sampling beer at breweries, and just driving backroads for hours.

Merrick Backcountry provided product and payment for this post. Merrick Backcountry meets my requirements for high quality dog food for my pup Sprocket and I adventure together always, with or without compensation, and all of my sentiments about him being the best dog ever are absolutely heartfelt. 

Summer! Roadtrip!: Part 3

After meeting up with Amanda, we adventured in the Bookcliffs and then again on Pinõn Mesa. Since we were right by Colorado National Monument we needed to at least go and do Rim Rock Drive.

I’ve done the drive before but it was a lot of fun to do it with someone who got so excited about the views! Since my iPhone camera did so well with the gorgeousness, it’s going to be awesome to see what Amanda came away with!

We ran down to get gas in Fruita and returned to shadows forming in Monument Valley:

The decision was made to head back down for sunrise and while I’m not a morning person, it’s hard to ever regret spending sunrise in nature:

After sunrise proper, I headed down to Grand Junction and spent some time blogging at Trailhead Coffee (it was a super chill place to hang out for a couple of hours!). Then it was time to head off to Grand Mesa! Unfortunately, Lands End Road was still closed so we had to go up and down the Mesa via Cedaredge instead of making it a loop.

As of last Tuesday (June 2nd) there was still a lot of snow around. Sprocket didn’t mind and gave himself a fantastic snow bath!

The views from the Mesa are always pretty darn fantastic:

Since there was so much snow and only one pair of snowshoes between us, we headed on to the north rim of the Black Canyon. More on that Monday!

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:

Summer! Roadtrip!: Part 1

I cannot think of a better start to summer than a roadtrip! Even better, Colorado decided to cooperate with me and get sunny and summer-like just as it was time to head out and meet Amanda in Green River. Amanda (of Amanda Summerlin Photography fame) had emailed me way back in April to see if I’d be interested in an adventure in early June. She’d photographed a wedding in Salt Lake and had a week to drive to Denver before flying out to another wedding. Of course, I couldn’t refuse the offer of a great adventure partner so plans were made.

I needed to leave Ridgway the day after school had gotten out so I didn’t get a particularly early start but after a busy morning of getting things ready to leave, Sprocket and I set out over Dallas Divide.

I had initially intended to go the fast way to Green River via Grand Junction. And then I decided to go through Moab. And then I decided to take a new route through Gateway. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was so so happy to be on the road with Sprocket.

I think he was pretty happy to be on the road as well:

I’d seen bits and pieces of the Dolores River Canyon around Slickrock, Paradox, and Bedrock and I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised that Colorado 141 alongside it on the way to Gateway was absolutely gorgeous. I was so glad that I’d decided to come that way!

I caught some glimpses of the hanging flume:

When we reached Gateway, I turned onto John Brown Road and headed up the canyon.

Sprocket and I took our time (mostly because the FSJ continues to have vapor lock issues) but the scenery wasn’t too shabby so there wasn’t anything to complain about.

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the drive to Green River, including one of my new favorite gravel roads!