Saturday, October 25, 2014

A hike of a different color

Yep, we've been hiking again, this time a few hours drive into Utah.  ( 4 to be exact ).    We joined the Cobble Creek Hiking Club for several days in Capitol Reef NP,.   The Castle dominates the skyline.  We weren't sure if we would drive over  due to some unwelcome bug I acquired for about 24 hours but we took our chance that I would be up to the challenge and headed over  to join this fun and active group.   

This is the "B" group.    Yes, I know that we actually look like an "A" group but they had already been on the trail for an hour and would go farther( 10 mi), climb higher and even do some rock scrambling.   The "Bees " enjoy the views, take more pictures, talk more, laugh more and find the path of least resistance.

 Dean and Diane were camped in the park and they became a welcome members of the Club.  He took a nice video at the top which I tried to add but so far no luck.

 Sometimes there were steps….these look benign but most of the time it was just irregular challenging boulders that required careful choice of footfalls…..even harder and trickier coming down.

 We were on slick rock and ill-defined trails so we always looked for the cairns to mark the way.   Or as we said,  "Where's Karen?"

Our group stopped at the Rim but the "A's"  made it to the Knobs at the top.  

 Looking down on the historic town of Fruita, developed by the Mormons and still a working orchard with original farm buildings …….. and fresh pies !   I was strong and didn't give in.    For all the walking, climbing, watching the calories and starting out with a bug, I lost a grand total of .2 lbs.   Depressing.!

 This is an area of serious geological history.    The expansive stretches of rock that we walked on looked like wind blown sand in areas and feather markings on others.    What looked like cow droppings in some parts ( no pics ) I now think they were  oyster fossils….I did learn something at the Visitors Center.

 At the end, there is a stream and it was tempting to soak the feet in it.    The temperatures were probably in the high 60's with a nice breeze.    Near 40 in the mornings.

The next day, a few of us headed out on the Scenic road for more sedate exploring combined with some long strolls on the canyon floor.     This is the Grand Wash where Butch Cassidy is said to have hung out and there is an arch named for him.

 The canyon walls have the distinctive varnish on them.

 The junipers are beautiful with their dusty bluish berries.   If you crush one, it smells just like Gin.!!

 This canyon has petroglyphs left from the Fremont area (about 1000 AD).

 In the late 1800's  this was a passage for the Morman pioneers thru the canyon and many left their signature behind.    Some mixed in with the petroglyphs.    But one ambitious group made a list of their party.    Can you see it high up on the canyon wall ?    It's easy to miss.   How did they do that?   I suspect they hung down on ropes.

 Sam Gifford had a home in Fruita that still exists and is where you buy the pies !

 Dean, Matt and Sue ( Ellen), to distinquish her from Sue, the photographer.

 More of the 'Pioneer Register"….

 Some of us decide to continue hiking upward towards another geological formation called the Tanks.  It was a lot of scrambling up and hanging on for dear life coming down.    This is Sue (Ellen )trying to find some footholds on the way to the canyon floor.

 Matt and Dean kept going but never did find the Tanks (shallow depressions holding water ) as the trail was not defined at all.

 The lizards are small and quick and besides deer, the only wildlife we saw.

 Arches down at our level.

 This area is prone to dangerous flash floods and water can get 16 feet deep.

 In the early 1900's, that gray layer was briefly mined for uranium.   It was felt that it had medicinal powers and they would wear the crushed substance in pouches around their neck to cure various ailments.    And I'll bet they didn't need lights at night either.

One of the original orchards …. the campground is located here as well and altho beautiful, it has no hookups.

We came back before the rest of the group in order to pack up the wagon , close down the ranch and start the trek east.   Altho about half of the hiking club heads south as well, we have many mixed feelings about leaving.   We feel like we really belong here and it just feels like home.     Florida is beautiful and warm and we miss the Scotts  but the mountains will always call us back.  
Stay tuned as we travel the by-ways once more ……  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If it's Wednesday….

 It must be hiking day…..

Today, the trek of choice was up to the Dallas Divide area out of Ridgeway and turning on to Last Dollar Road.     This route crosses the enormous and beautiful Ralph Lauren Ranch,  the Double RL which is carved into the log over the road.  The ranch is over 16,000 acres and is a working cattle ranch.

The road narrowed and became rough….. There was a traffic jam ahead of hunters coming down the road so Bud walked down to give us a heads up…..he opted for a ride back up.   

The hunters made it very clear that we were trespassing on their territory.     One guy said didn't we know that it was elk season and there were men with guns in the woods.    He advised us to wear the neon orange vests…which some of us had.    I was a bit wary about wandering about in the woods ….. granted, I probably  don't look like an  elk but I also know that some of them have lousy eyesight and a strong urge to bring home a rack of antlers.

We parked in a lovely meadow….. in sight of hunter's campsites and the magnificent peaks.    This trail was voted the most beautiful in 2012 for this area.    

Paul and Jessica.     I didn't take my camera and I'm using the iPhone….resulting in blurry shots and images that needed to be lightened when I could …. but you get the idea.  

The trail  was  very pretty….like walking on gold coins.    Altho rated "easy-moderate", most of us felt it was either very steep going up or very slippery and steep going down.    We were above 9000 ft and went between 4-5 miles.     We were doing some serious breathing on the very long ups and watching our footing very closely on the downs due to hidden rocks under the leaves.    Plus we had some serious stream crossings.       But, it was probably my favorite hike so far.    The views were always front and center.    The aspen's smell is sweet and the color contrasts so sharply with the blue spruce.

A rare flat area in the aspen grove…..

 I'm always impressed with our old bodies and how well they respond to challenges…..and believe me, this hike was a challenge….. and how quickly we recover.   We came home with a feeling of accomplishment and good fatigue…. and a few achy parts.    I will miss these outings.    It has been a privilege to walk these trails and breathe the clear air and hear and see the birds and know that the beasts of the forests are watching ….. and waiting for us to leave.      


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Time marches on ………..

The B&B might be closed but the Welcome Mat is still out and Dean and Diane took advantage …..They are in their MH taking in this beautiful country and fortunately, all roads lead to the mountains.    

 We had good intentions of sharing a mountain pass or two but we neglected to bring the snowplow.    All passes are closed until spring…… : (

There is still some aspen color around and occasional 70+ temps  but the days they are a-changing…..

We are beginning to gather our thoughts and our plans and to think of moving on out.    I have many mixed feelings about leaving this majestic area.    But, on the other hand, the thought of sunny and hot warm days is also appealing.   

Last night we joined a big crowd to help an amazing couple celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.   They had a 50's Rock and Roll theme and most everyone came appropriately garbed.    The decor was perfect down to the tiniest detail, the DJ played and the crowd of mostly lively seniors outdid themselves on the dance floor.   They served Sloppy Joes, cole slaw, potato chips and root beer floats…Perfect !!   Vera and Rich are two of the most active people we know. They are the first to lead the group on our hikes, active golfers and have a wonderful joie de vivre.     And great role models for all of us of a certain age.    

And speaking of aging …. when you have the time, skim thru this interesting piece on living past 75.   I have to think about it a bit before I comment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yes, more aspen color……….

Today's hike was to Grand Mesa. Thanks to my brother who alerted me to some facts re: the Mesa.   It is the largest flat topped mountain in the world.   It is bordered by the Colorado River on the north and the Gunnison River on the south.    It receives 20-30 inches of snow in the winter when the temperature rarely goes above zero.   It is a popular area for snowmobilers and cross country skiers    At 11,000 ft, we wandered among the large pines on a crisp fall day  (40 degrees when we started ).    Our group of 9 slogged easily along the muddy trail and patches of snow.   We had two very rambunctious dogs with us and I suspect they kept our wild life sightings at zero.    There weren't even that many birds flying or calling out.    Our snack break was overlooking far off ridges with golden aspen. 

 It was a beautiful fall day and we managed to use up all those burned calories by having really good Mexican food on the way home.   We were very apologetic about the muddy clumps our boots left on their clean floors.

On  Sunday, Michael was the Microsoft Rep at the Broncos/ Cardinal game…..he's in the brown jacket behind the red cases.   Thanks Josh for capturing the pic .    We looked and looked but missed finding him on TV.  The NFL has a contract with MSF to use the Surface tablets and Mike was their troubleshooter.

The other day we headed in another direction to seek out more color.     I'm going to have to find other subjects for my photography soon.

These are views of Courthouse Peak, on the right and it sort of looks like a massive courthouse building.    That is the street we live on so of course, we had to be able to identify the namesake mountain.  

 Silver Jack Lake ……..

 Large wasp nest hanging on an aspen.  

 Rowdy Lake, accessible by short jeep trail….nice reflection.

Rain tomorrow and probably on the weekend……I suspect that will trigger the end of the color….but then the snow will blanket the peaks and give another perspective to nature's beauty.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Changing seasons…...

We love catching up with old friends.     Guy and Judy Hatlie showed up on their long drive from their summer  home on  the lakes of Minnesota to their beautiful home in Manhattan Beach, CA.    Our paths cross every year or so and none of us have aged one bit !!!    They are avid world travels and make us want to follow in their footsteps…… we even talked about meeting up in the spring !    Stay tuned, maybe it will work out !!         

 They only stayed over night and we headed south with them to Ridgeway to meet up at Kate's for breakfast…..  always a favorite.    

We have not seen blue skies for several days but knew that the mountains were getting snow.    It has been very fall-like and the jeans and sweaters feel just right.     After hugs and promises to start making our plans, they continued on their journey and  we headed out on back roads to see if the aspen were still hanging on after the heavy rains and winds.  

Rounding a hill, this was our first breathtaking view of the snowy San Juans.

We weren't the only ones who were out capturing the changing seasons.  

 The aspen leaves are starting to fall…..

More photographers on the trail……The hunters were out as well.

The temps are dropping down to the high 30's at night and in the 60's mid day.    It is so refreshing to be out and about.  

The B&B is closing for the season but we hope everyone will come back next year.    We still have another few weeks here before we head south.    Part of us is anxious to get back to the sun and a big part of us is very content to stay and soak up the beauty that is Colorado.