Canyon Hike Near Slickrock, Colorado

Two weeks ago, F, Sprocket, and I set out for some adventuring with our new friend Karen. We met Karen in Ridgway when she was passing through on her DRZ (just like F’s). The next thing we knew, the jeep was loaded up and Sprocket and I were playing sag wagon for three days as F and Karen made their way to Moab the long way.

Our first meetup was planned for Slickrock, Colorado. We all pulled out of Ridgway mid-morning and Sprocket and I headed directly for Slickrock. The skies over the mountains were looking questionable and we were hoping to stay west of the storms. Since I’m not really familiar with the area and realized that Slickrock is the “dead zone” between many of the Trails Illustrated and Latitude 40 maps, I stopped at the ranger station in Norwood to see if they had any additional information. The very helpful volunteer helped me pick out a couple of BLM maps for the area. ($4 each! With topo lines!)

When Sprocket and I arrived in Slickrock, we picked a narrow canyon and headed out for a hike. To get a better view of the area, we passed the entrance to the canyon and hiked along the road to a viewpoint above the river:

Dolores River

Dolores River

When we backtracked into the canyon, Sprocket was very pleased to discover that the recent rain had left all the potholes full of muddy water. I was really pleased to discover that this little canyon without a name was pleasantly narrow and really pretty.

Pothole swimming.

Sprocket pothole swimming

Sprocket just jumped from puddle to puddle and ripped around the slickrock.

Sprocket hiking

Sprocket with pothole

Sprocket

Trickle of water in canyon

Pothole swimming

Sprocket rolling in mud

Muddy Sprocket

Canyon views

Waterfalls

Eventually, we reached a waterfall and I was afraid that our hike would be over. As we walked back downstream, I looked for a way that I could get myself and Sprocket around the obstacle. It took a little bit of searching but we managed to find a way. Unfortunately, rain clouds were starting to appear to the southeast and the last place I wanted to be was a tight little canyon so we headed uphill. As I climbed through the piñon and junipers, passing deer sign, I couldn’t help but think that this is where the Big Kitties live. Fortunately, we did not encounter any.

Terminal waterfall in canyon

Rather than backtrack through the canyon since rain and our appointed meeting time with Karen and F was approaching, Sprocket and I walked back along the ridge separating our canyon from Highway 141. I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance but no more than a couple drops of rain ever fell on us.

Views to the north

Back at the car, we headed for our meeting place. It was about 3:30 and F had told me to expect them between 3 and 5pm. So Sprocket and I waited. And we waited some more. I’d been told not to worry until about 8 or so, so we sat tight. At about 7, I drove up Slickrock hill to try and find some cell reception. At 8, I headed a couple miles up a gravel road, knocked on a door, and asked if I could use the phone. No answer and no messages on my phone. At 9:30, admittedly getting a little worried, I returned to the house and asked if I could use the phone one more time… and F answered!

Moonrise

Turns out, they’d been within 10 miles of me for hours. Driven further south than they’d planned by the storm I’d been watching, they tried to find their way back north off-road from Dove Creek. My timing on calling the last time had been perfect, they were in Dove Creek again and were just trying to decide whether they should “slab” it up (dirt biker talk for riding pavement) to me or sit tight until I called them.

The decision was quickly made that I should drive down to meet them. They were soaked through and a hotel room to shower in and get things dry sounded like just the ticket. The day was a lot longer than any of us had planned but it turned out just fine.

Sprocket Loves Ridgway

Holy Cow. Apparently I forget to upload pictures from our point and shoot camera. I shot these back in early June! Sprocket loves his swimming beach here in Ridgway:

Further reasons to love Ridgway:

Crazy Dock Jumping Dog

Sprocket isn’t always the most active of dogs. He likes to hike but nothing gets him quite as wound up as the sight and smell of water.

During our adventures in Seattle, we found time for him to do some swimming at a boat launch. Think I’m kidding about him being excited? Nope: as soon as Forrest held up a stick, the dog started whining and wrapping the leash around my legs. Sprocket is nuts for water, seriously.

Ken’s Lake

Poor Sprocket didn’t get to do much swimming or snow playing this winter. We did our best but only managed one swim and a couple of sessions in the La Sals this spring so when we went to Ken’s Lake we had one excited puppy on our hands:

And to top it all off for him, there was sand:

Salt River Swimming

After we’d closed the deal on the van, we decided the very patient puppy deserved some fun. There was still some water left in the Salt River after recent rains so we pulled off the highway and let the pup play:

He was very very pleased to be in the water again!

Priest Lake

After work on Friday, Forrest, Sprocket and I headed for Priest Lake. (About 2 hours to our northwest.) Robin, a work contact turned friend, had invited us up to spend the weekend at his lake place. We didn’t have any plans and it was a new place to visit so we were more than happy to accept his invitation!

Friday, we arrived at the lake and spent most of the afternoon relaxing on the deck and chatting and went out for dinner. We all called it a relatively early night so we could get up early on Saturday to head for “the Upper Lake.”

We didn’t get quite as early of a start as we would have liked on Saturday (but then, who does when they’re on vacation?). Forrest and I were up early took a walk with Sprocket before we returned to the house just as Robin was waking up. The three of us enjoyed some coffee and the newspaper before getting down to the boat about nine thirty.

The sun was shining and it was beautiful! We did sort of a “tour of homes” along the shore as we headed north towards the upper lake. By the time we got to the entrance of the “thorofare” (the passage connecting Lower and Upper Priest Lakes) I was down to my bathing suit enjoying the sunshine.

At the Upper Lake, Sprocket swam (and swam and swam); we ate our lunches; Forrest, Sprocket, and I went for a walk; and we all just generally enjoyed the sunshine. The upper lake is fairly quiet—there aren’t any roads that approach it and motorboats aren’t supposed to tow skiers or tubers up there—which was a nice change from the lower lake. After a few hours up there, we returned down the lake. After we unloaded the boat, Forrest and I (and SP!) went for a swim. The sunshine felt so good!

We spent the evening, as evenings on the water are spent, looking out over the lake before gorging ourselves on some steak, salad, and corn all of which were topped off by a huckleberry cream pie!

We had such a great weekend out on the water. Thank you so much to Robin and Patty for being awesome hosts. All three of us had a great time!

Sorry. I don’t have any pictures. I didn’t bring the new camera and the batteries in the little one died…and someone (me) hadn’t put new spares in. So no pictures of the lake, SP riding in the boat like an old pro, etc. etc.

Avery Trip

A couple Sundays ago, it was predicted to be in the mid-90s in the Silver Valley so we decided that we needed to go find somewhere to be on the water. We set off in the jeep for Avery. Instead of going the usual way via Wallace and Moon Pass, we headed south directly out of Mullan.

Stevens Peak

After attaining the ridge on the south side of town, we dropped down to Moon Pass briefly and then took Slate Creek Road to Avery. The road was mostly in good shape but there were a couple of washouts to keep the drive interesting.

Slate Creek Meadows

Once we got to Avery, we had lunch at Avery Fly Fishing Company right on the St. Joe River. After we’d finished our lunch (and our ice cream cone), we headed up the North Fork of the St. Joe to try and find a place for Sprocket to swim. Along the way, we found a nice deep hole where he could get some swimming in. I even got in the icy cold water for a bit. (Forrest described it as “snow three hours ago” and watched from his rock.)

We made our way back to Mullan via Bullion Pass and Taft, Montana. It had been a long day but it was really nice to spend it together.

Day 9: Houston, Texas to New Iberia, Louisiana

We pulled out of Houston headed for Winnie and our exit from I-10. We got into Port Arthur and ate breakfast at “The Causeway” where they were nice enough to let us use their wireless and to tell us that there was “nothing” out where we were headed. The road between Port Arthur and Cameron was pretty desolate with just a few houses along the gulf beach, which made it a perfect place to check out the beach.

Being on the road, we were really hoping to stop at a beach with showers so that we could rinse the salt water off before moving on but it quickly became apparent that was an unreasonable expectation. We settled for making friends at Mieaux’s Seafood (just an old man living on the beach in his trailer that delivers crab to his customers) and asking if we could use his water spigot to rinse off with–he was quite happy to let us, he just wanted us to know that he was “Fixing to go deliver some crab” so we’d have to help ourselves.

It was so nice to get out and spend some time at the beach. Sprocket finally dived in and swam after us but he wasn’t really sure how he felt about it though, he really just seemed to want us to come back to the beach. He was a sand dog though, and loved to go under the jeep and roll in it.

Leaving the beach, took the ferry to Cameron. On the ferry we asked one of the operators for advice on where to get lunch and he recommended Sha Sha’s in Creole. Getting off the ferry, we really started to see the effects of Hurricane Rita, everyone has a brand new house or mobile home–on stilts. In Creole, we did get lunch at Sha Sha’s–I had grilled shrimp and Forrest had fried catfish. My shrimp were fantastic and the catfish was pretty good too, neither one of us are big fried fish fans though. After lunch while we were letting Sprocket run around a bit, one of the waitresses came running out with the deep fried Oreos that she’d made for us.

After that we headed for Abbeville. Abbeville was supposed to have a great oyster house–it was closed (permanently) and there really didn’t seem to be anyone around so we headed for New Iberia. In ‘Beria as I was later told everyone calls it, we walked around the downtown, along the Bayou Teche (Snake Bayou), and checked out some of the cool old houses. After walking around we headed back to a bar with outdoor seating to see if we could meet some of the locals–and boy did we! We stumbled on to Clif Ayers 83rd birthday party and his wife and sons were more than happy to have us sit down. They old us all about New Iberia and the surrounding area and asked us all about our trip. Another friend of theirs, Roy, was also very happy to talk to us. As the evening wore on, Clif and Debbie headed for home and we (including Sprocket) went with Roy to another bar in town. We got to talk to a lot of people and Sprocket just slept on the barroom floor. What a night in southwest Louisiana!