Archive

Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

Epic Road Trip #15 (The Final Leg)

Had an expensive fastfood type breakfast at a diner in Granby. Did some laundry and found dispersed camping in the National Forest. I took a not so great site lower on the mountain since I had the donut on. I walked up the road to the High Lonesome Trailhead and hiked that to the cabin at the end.

The next morning I drove into Winter Park, I think and got my tire fixed. Had another expensive fastfood type breakfast and checked out the local thrift store. It was $44 for the flat fix, which was steep but since the other was free I made out ok.

I backtracked to head north and picked up a hitchhiker and took her to Sulphur Springs before her Food bank milk spoiled. It was my third hitchhiker of the trip which made up for my two rides and one for the hundreds of times I’d hitchhiked in my youth.

I drove up north through a large burned area of the Rout National Forest. It was surreal seeing the total devastation which read like an indictment of our poor forest management practices.

I stopped at the big wildlife management area and saw it was moose country. There was no free or cheap camping or hotels in the Walden area and all the restaurants looked like the same pricey fastfood like stuff I was coming to hate about Colorado so I pushed on to Wyoming.

I found a hike in the Medicinebow National Forest on a rails to trails trail. There were a lot of ponds from the borrow pits making the railway and I saw a lot of Willow and some moose droppings so I camped in a burned out area and got up in the cold predawn for a morning hike to see Moose, but no luck.

I drove into Laramie and filled up on cheap Wyoming gas. I drove to the Lincoln statue which is at an elaborate rest area celebrating the Lincoln Autoway which was the first cross country auto route. There were allegedly trailheads there but I couldn’t find them. All the trails had a $5.00 day use fee so I drove on up to Cheyenne.

Cheyenne has a great municipal park with a botanical gardens and a swimming lake. Had a nice lunch at a Filipino restaurant and looked at my options. When I went to Cheyenne I’d decided to turn towards home. I did Yellowstone and Grand Tetons a few years ago and Devil’s Tower at 250 miles away didn’t seem worth it.

With nearly a full tank of gas I figured I could head back to Colorado. Drove down to Fort Morgan where I found a reasonably priced hotel in the High Plains. I hiked a riverside trail along the Platte which wasn’t great.

I headed west and had lunch in Nebraska before turning south into Kansas. I had talked to my friend Trevor that morning about our bi-annual trip to the Detroit Jazz Festival and he reminded me of Nicodemus so I decided to head there. Passed a memorial to the Sand Creek Massacre and related tragedies some of which had happened nearby. I found some free camping east of their in Hill City at a municipal park. It’s hot in the flatlands and I slept poorly.

The towns along 24 each had little historical parks and signs about their settlement. Nicodemus is a National Park site being settled by former slaves. I took a solo guided tour with a ranger and we had a great dialogue on racism and city development.

Nicodemus had a strong start but got screwed out of their railroad stop by the white developer who had helped found the town but pulled some shenanigans to get the stop in one of his white towns. In addition to a good breakfast place the ranger told me about a dugout Nicodemus residents had made outside of Stockton which was a sundown town. It was in good shape and I don’t recall having seen one for as many as I’d read about in westerns growing up.

I drove to Grand Junction and got another hotel as it was hot again. Had some so so barbecue and another crappy hike on a riverwalk this one the Republican River. Then I drove home. It was nice to be back. Nine weeks on the road, ten states, 5,000 miles, 5 nights at friend’s places, 4 nights at hotels and never paid for camping. It was a sweet trip and a great adventure.

Epic Road Trip #14 (Across Colorado continued)

I forgot to mention before I had van trouble in coal seam pass I had a really cool alpine hike to start the day. I was hiking to an alpine lake but I wore my tennis shoes and the first snow I had to cross they didn’t fare well. I did make it to a beautiful alpine meadow above the treeline and saw an elk and the tiniest chipmunks I’ve ever seen. I turned back when I got to some serious snow realizing I wasn’t going to be able to swim anyway.

I ultimately made it into Silverton and had some ok barbecue and picked up a six pack of Colorado beer. There was great dispersed camping right outside of town next to a rushing river with beautiful views. There really wasn’t a site left but there was a gravel area where the boundary marker was set and it was flat and worked out fine.

I drove towards Ouray along the million dollar highway which was about as windy of a mountain road as you’ll find. There was a high waterfall and some amazing scenic views. I stopped at all the lookouts and large areas are despoiled from historic mining. In Ouray they have a park with a waterfall that was pretty impressive. I meditated in the spray, had lunch and watched the people.

Coming out of the mountains I stopped at a historical marker where a fort had been that was used to Dispossess the Utes when ranchers found them inconvenient. I struck up a conversation with another epic road tripper and noted about every third history sign documented genocide. Zach had been on the road for a year and we exchanged numbers but it never worked out to hang out.

I drove into Gunnison Black Canyon National Park and did all the overlooks and short trails on the south rim. It’s like the Grand Canyon only smaller but black rock and more sheer. It was pretty cool and I saw a 650 year old pinyon pine. I met another epic road tripper and read her “To You” out of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass which has been my daily devotional while she cooked dinner. She shared her dinner and we had a great talk, she’s been on the road for a month and seemed pleased to have a break in the solitude.

I got to the BLM site well after dark seeing the obligatory mule deer for a twilight drive. I managed to find a space after getting myself into a bad place and having a long back up in the dark. I’m getting cavalier about navigating sketchy road and this was a nice wakeup call. I found a spot but it wasn’t flat and it was tough getting out in the morning. I still considered myself lucky.

It’s hot at Gunnison so I hiked the 3 longer trails between six and nine. When I came off the trail it was packed and all the tourists made me feel weird. I had breakfast and made plans while I had internet at the highpoint in the park.

I texted my buddy with the hotel and drove through the hot in a, for me, marathon drive to Steamboat Springs. A shower, a whirlpool, AC and a king sized bed dismissed the notion of heading home. The heat broke in Steamboat so I lingered until checkout and enjoyed breakfast and second breakfast at the free breakfast bar as well as another jacuzzi session.

I went to see another waterfall and did the 2.5 mile hike to the upper falls. It was incredibly beautiful and everyone was really friendly. I carried a GPS for some University of Wyoming researchers. Then I drove to some dispersed camping. Even that was crowded and touristy. I did get flagged down by a big pick up who wanted to marvel that I had a minivan up there. I found a widespot/sort of pull off with a trail to a campsite that I made my home. Lots of traffic for a sketchy Forest service road.

This morning I got up early as I always do and did a historical tour of downtown. I also caught the farmers market and got some gluten free chocolate chip cookies and a cup of good coffee. I checked out the hot springs. Steamboat had a geyser but the railroad ruined it. I took a swim in the river and checked out the hot springs from there.

Then the crush of bourgeoisie tourists started to bug me. I had met a City Council person and she was smug on their lack of homeless people and the whole place was getting to me so I drove up through the mountains East on 40 to Sulphur Springs. I’m camped where Beaver Creek meets the Colorado and it’s pretty nice. It rained some and it’s chilly which is sweet in a giant heatwave. I’m going to take 40 East to 115 North, I think and check out Wyoming. The cookie guy says it’s nice up there.

I’ll post this and add pictures when I get some internet. Tata for now faithful reader.

Woke up to another low tire. I put on the donut and would have stayed put, it being a Sunday, but I noted my campsite required a Colorado fishing license so I drove into Granby. I’m going to try the National Forest near Gavel Mountain and come back to Granby for tire repair in the morning. Happy Father’s Day to the Dad types out there.

Epic Road Trip #13: Across Colorado

June 18, 2021 1 comment

Boy a lot has happened in the last 6 days. As I mentioned in the last post I stopped at The Ancestral Pueblo Cultural Center which apparently is rebranding but the maps haven’t kept up. There were a couple of ruined pueblos on site and the museum had tons of current artifacts. When they built the nearby reservoir they harvested all the artifacts they could find before submerging them.

The ranger recommended Sand Canyon and to start early but it was already too late for that and I hit the trail at noon. I took it slow and with a gallon of water I hiked to all the sites on the first 3.7 miles before I decided to turnaround. It was really cool being in the wilderness and finding all of these cool cave dwellings you could get fairly close too.

I was surprised I was up to 14 miles with the hiking I had done earlier and the spur trails to get to the sites. I had also missed Castle Rock Pueblo by entering on an alternate trailhead but I stopped in a winery and picked up a half bottle of a white blend to taste the local terroir. I considered a tasting but even 4 oz of wine didn’t seem wise when I was going to be doing more desert hiking.

Took me a walk to find the site which turned out to be the big rock that looked like a castle. It was sad to see it pockmarked with gunshots and you couldn’t see the ruins from outside the prohibited area.

I drove on to Hovenweep and saw in the brochure my dispersed camping was really a campsite. It was $15 which I would have paid if it had included a shower. I decided to hike the 2 mile main trail even though I was 15 miles into the day and dark was approaching. It was an amazing hike and Hovenweep is the unknown gem of the trip for sure.

After the cliff dwelling period the ancient pueblans built free standing towers right before abandoning the area and moving south into the Rio Grande basin. There is another ruin on a 4 mile trail but I left that one for next time. I took the hour plus drive back to the BLM land by Mesa Verde I’d been staying at. It was a bit of a harrowing journey with 3 episodes of mule deer in the road one where I slammed on the breaks and stopped within inches of it as it looked at me sort of dumbfounded. Even more nerve-wracking there were these birds flying in front of the van scooping insects out of the headlight glow I assume. I made it back late and slept the sleep of the just. 17 miles hiked through the desert, I’m definitely getting stronger.

I drove the Canyon of the Ancients loop the counterclockwise this time and went to Sand Canyon Pueblo. It’s excavated ruins reburied to protect it. It had a subtle beauty and good interpretive signs but the young family who hiked it after me were unimpressed.

Then I challenged some dirt roads and visited a couple more ruins. You never know what you’re going to get but Painted Hand Pueblo was especially cool with a nice freestanding tower.

I then did some driving and got a burger and green chili beer at a brewpub in Durango. Drove seven miles up a mountain and was in some beautiful Aspen/Ponderosa Pine forest and a nice cool night. I noticed I had a rapidly developing flat tire but decided to wait until morning to deal with it.

I swapped on my donut and drove back to Durango. Got a great breakfast at a diner, picked up a pair of pants at a resale shop and they fixed my tire for free. I’d hiked a piece of the Colorado Trail on my way down the mountain which was amazing and hiked the interpretive trail by the overlook on my way backup the mountain. Had a nice campfire that night which was a nice surprise being in a worse drought then what drove the Ancestral Pueblans out of the area in the 13th century.

I hiked the Log Chute Trail coming down the mountain and should have known better by the name. It was a 5 mile loop with the last bit being super steep downhill and was obviously designed with mountain biking in mind. It was a lot of loose sand and I had one bad moment but I got my feet back under me before I had a fall.

I started up 550 North and pulled into an overlook at Coal Bank Peak, steam erupted from under the hood. I popped the hood and saw a hole in my radiator hose, about the only mechanical problem I was capable of fixing. I saw an auto parts store and looked at the map and thought it was in Silverton so I hit hitchhiked there. Got a ride right of way and quicky learned Google was messing with me sending me to Silverton to turnaround and drive back to Durango.

Rather then doing that I went to an auto repair place and the old boy running the place sold me a random one for $22.00. I had a choice of 2 so I picked the longer of them. I walked about an hour before I got a ride back to my van with a dude who knew his way around cars and gave me some sage advice.

It was difficult getting at the clips and then getting the hose on. Twice I felt my composure slip a little bit and I took a few breaths and centered myself and treated it like a meditative exercise. I got it done and it heat sealed and I drove my hot and filthy self to Silverton. I searched hotels and they were all pricey so I settled for some ok pulled pork and fries and got some cool dispersed camping by the river right outside of town.

I took this as a sign that mountains were not for the Cookie Monster and considered heading for home. My ride had said only a couple of passes and 550 flattened out. My last picture wouldn’t upload so I’ll wrap up and publish. I stayed at Steamboat Springs last night and am going to camp and hike in the Medicine Bow-Rout National Forest for a couple of days and figure out my next moves. The heatwave broke here and it’s pretty nice being at some elevation. Looks hotter then he’ll everywhere else so I’ll try and stay put. Stay cool.

Epic Road Trip #9: to the BLM

I lingered for several days in the Sacramento Mountains/Almagordo area. The lunar eclipse was incredible and the BLM land was a nice spot to view it. There is a state park right by it and I checked out some ruins of an early settler and a pretty impressive native plant garden the next morning.

I didn’t want to pay the $5.00 day use fee so I skipped the hike and drove back into the mountains. I hiked a nice overlook trail and then back to the dispersed camping I’d been staying at but a nicer site. Did a lot of hikes over the next few days with Bridal Veil Falls being the best.

I spent Thursday night at a Motel 6 in Alamogordo. My first hotel at 6 weeks in. It was $43 bucks out the door and my long anticipated WiFi was a bust but what do you expect for $35. I didn’t even complain.

I needed wifi for a zoom presentation Friday morning and I found a coffee shop and it worked out fine, a bit better then that actually. A young Latinx couple introduced themselves afterwards as I had been talking about racism in my presentation and they were new to the area and looking to make activist connections. We were both sorry I wasn’t local.

I realized I’d been loud and when I apologized to the other dude on the patio we also struck up a conversation. In an answer to his question I told him I was on my last day of doing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. He and his wife do Ignatian retreats and he was in transition himself and we had a great conversation on spiritual practice and the change process.

He encouraged me to be transparent about what I’m doing when I mentioned the blog morphing into a travelogue of late with some of my Spiritual posts being used against me politically. It was a sweet capstone to 31 days of prayer, meditation and reflection.

After some barbecue I was going to hike Bridal Veil Falls and met Ray there. Another fellow in transition and we hung out and hiked together and I payed my free expert consult forward on helping Ray with his plans to homestead the family plot. After not really talking to anyone for weeks it was amazing to get into 2 deep spiritual conversations in one day.

I checked out a new part of the forest and hiked some more later. Met a civil engineer reading Travels with Charlie which got us talking about our various epic Road trips. He mentioned some sites in the Gila National Forest I plan to check out when I head down that way.

I hiked again this morning on the Ridge Top trail which had a section recently logged. I haven’t seen any clear-cuts on the trip and some thinning didn’t seem out of line. Saw my first coyote of the trip stalking through the woods.

I went into Cloudcroft for an art show and alleged farmers market but it was only pecans. I did get a pair of New Balance for a dollar as my hiking shoes are falling apart. I also got an excellent bowl of pasole.

I was going to keep hanging out as their were more trails in the rails to trails system I wanted to hike. I’ve done a lot of those but never one in the mountains. The sidecut trail was pretty cool but I got turned around and was tired of being lost in the same spot so I left the area.

I drove north to a BLM area Fort Stanton National Recreation Area. There is a trail to some petroglyphs I am going to hike tomorrow. It’s not that long of a trail but I’m going to walk the 2 1/2 miles of jeep road to get there and I’ve already done 11+ miles of hiking today. A storm is threatening but so far only wind and a few sprinkles. They need the rain bad here.

It’s a nice area with some elevation so it’s not too hot. I might check out Fort Stanton tomorrow as well. See what it costs and has to offer. Thanks for hanging with me faithful reader and I’ll post again when I’ve done some more stuff.

Epic Road Trip #4: The Glades

The deluge came and I managed pretty well through it. I did decide to head to higher ground, the Swan Creek camp trails were all flooded. I think it’s really called Bar K Wrangler Camp, by the way.

I camped in some high country which was nice. After a couple of skewer cooked meals I got a cast iron skillet and a new sauce pan, as well as a baking sheet. I’m keeping them in a messenger bag as cooking on fires leaves a lot of soot on the pan which is how I left my last set.

I took a glades drive and hiked some forest service roads yesterday. Feel like moving south has advanced the season seeing cardinal flowers and indian paintbrush and not the spring ephemerals that go along with morels.

Today I hiked in the Hercules Wilderness Area. I hiked about 5 miles in the morning at the Fire Tower trail head. Later I found a shorter trail to the waterfalls (Blair Ridge TH) . It was 3.8 miles and with what I’d already done a bit of a stretch but I’m glad I did.

Saw a hummingbird in a patch of cardinal flowers and the glades had lots of wildflowers I’d never seen. The creek water was cold but swimmable and the falls were incredible. Nice pools and water action. Met a couple of young guys whose excitement was infectious.

Saw my first copperhead. He was big but had a meal in him and was pretty chill. I got some good pictures and video and I’ll see what I can post. It was a long walk out. I went into town for fajitas and took a little detour to the Pine Ridge section of the National Forest because I didn’t want to drive all the way to the Piney Wilderness Area, my last stop in the Mark Twain nearly complete tour.

As long as I’m not actually parked in someone’s front yard I made a good decision. I am bone weary tired but the best day of the trip so far.