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Topic: Westward, Ho!, 3rd annual Rocky Mountain Road Trip< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 25 2012, 9:15 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Many have already seen most of this on FB, but thought I would post here too!

It's become a bit of tradition for me to take an extended road trip vacation for my birthday (9/11) - this year I focused mainly on Colorado.  Although I've been there dozens of times, there are always new places to explore.

I left Chicago on Friday, 8/31.  After a night visiting some friends in Council Bluffs, Iowa, it was off to Rocky Mountain National Park. (first time for me)

On Labor Day, fellow forum members Deborah and Roger drove up to meet me - after fighting the crowds for a parking spot, we took a nice hike to Ouzel Falls.  

We took a different trail most of the way back which afforded a bit more solitude.  

Yes, the park was crowded, but I'm glad I got to visit and "check it off the list."  I saw a fair amount of wildlife, including coyotes and elk (plus a bear right in Estes Park - my first Colorado bear sighting!)

After one more night at Moraine Park Campground,

I would spend the next day touring the park by car and on to a hotel room in Georgetown for the night.

Wednesday found me up fairly early as I attempted (and succeeded) at my first 14'er summit.  Mt Bierstadt (14,060') is one of the "easier" 14'ers with a round trip hike of only 6-7 miles, all above treeline, which I really enjoyed.  All in all, the hike took me (gasp!) 8 hours.  But, I only really care that I did it.  It's totally possible I may have set a record for first female solo summit, I need to look into that.  :;):





My next two nights were spent in a cush hotel in Breckenridge, just loafing about doing stuff "normal people" do on vacation - shopping, eating, enjoying my nice hotel room.  

After that, I swung through Leadville, where some nice fall colors were starting to pop:


Then it was on over Independence Pass (with a side hike to the grottos), quick drive to Ashcroft ghost town and then into Glenwood Springs for one last night in a hotel room.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 25 2012, 9:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This brings us to Saturday the 8th.  My aunt drove over from her house in Evergreen for a 2 night "backpack" trip in the Marble area.  Our family has been vacationing in Marble since I was a small child.  A favorite day trip was always a hike, horseride or Jeep trip up to the ghost town of Crystal.  

On one of our last family vacations, I had found out that the town of Crystal is owned by about 3 families, and that sometimes rentals are available.  So for this trip, I rented an old mining cabin for two nights.  The town is accessible by a rough Jeep road, but we decided to hike it instead, which meant loading up the backpack!


Many people recognize Crystal by this photo:


This is "Main Street" in Crystal, only about 8 old cabins remain as summer homes for a few hearty folks


We had a lovely one room cabin, complete with outhouse (the cabin kitchen even had running water which consisted of a hose running into town from the watersource!)


On our full day in Crystal, we took advantage of the location and hiked up to Lead King Basin.  This is a popular area for 4x4 clubs, but also a fair amount of hikers as this is "back door" access to the Maroon Bells, and where you'll find the Geneva Lake trailhead.

Every corner was like a new postcard, my aunt had to refrain from breaking out into the Sound of Music soundtrack.
We had many views of Snowmass Mountain

and lots of places to dip our feet in the cold waters of the Crystal River


After one more night of ogling the Milky Way from our front porch

it was time to hike back out.  It was really cool how much the fall color had changed in just two nights.


After a BBQ lunch at the only restaurant in Marble, we parted ways and I headed for Utah.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 25 2012, 9:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This was the 2nd year I signed up for a float trip with OARS rafting.  I can't recommend them highly enough for multi-day raft trips.  Last year, I spent 4 days on the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park.  This year I chose 4 days on the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument.

On Tuesday, my birthday, I boarded a van in Vernal, UT which drove us 3 hours back into Colorado to our launch on the Green River, at the Gates of Lodore.


This being September, and a very low water year, there was very little whitewater to speak of, so we spent a relaxing 4 days floating on the river, stopping at scenic campsites along the way.








On Friday, day 4, we said our goodbyes after a short ride back to Vernal, and I headed to a hotel in Steamboat Springs for a much needed shower.

On Saturday, I stopped off at a little campground near BlackHawk, Colorado, and it was all downhill from there.   :p



All in all, 17 days on the road, which was exactly what I needed after a somewhat stressful summer at work.  Already thinking about next year and considering a Colorado/New Mexico trip for a change...but I shall see what the next year brings me.  I would love to do a Grand Canyon raft trip with the same company, but that might require a few more years of saving first.

Thanks for reading!


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 12:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Firedancer @ Sep. 25 2012, 7:54 pm)
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On Saturday, I stopped off at a little campground near BlackHawk, Colorado, and it was all downhill from there.   :p



All in all, 17 days on the road, which was exactly what I needed after a somewhat stressful summer at work.

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for posting, it looks like a most excellent adventure !

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 12:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, you were doing well until you started keeping bad company on that last night!

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 2:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Firedancer @ Sep. 25 2012, 9:29 pm)
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Those look like turning larches and aspens! Lucky you!


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 27 2012, 3:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Love the pictures!

Was great to see you again.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 27 2012, 3:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Can you give me exact directions, I want to follow in your foot steps next year!  Amazing colors.  Beautiful cabin.  The stars were outrageous.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2012, 2:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikingFF77 @ Sep. 27 2012, 3:43 pm)
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Can you give me exact directions, I want to follow in your foot steps next year!  

LOL.  This is the product of spending 48 weeks a year in a cubicle at a computer...spreadsheets and googlemaps :)

Have already started next year's spreadsheet - thinking I'll spend some time in the San Juans as I haven't really been to that part of Colorado.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 12 2012, 10:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A truly great tradition you have there, for sure. :D

Was truly my pleasure meeting you at PG :)


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 14 2012, 12:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am really bummed the backpack I wanted to do didn't happen, but its obvious you had an awesome and spectacular time. Next time I suggest you do the easy Fourteeners south of Breckenridge; Lincoln, Democrat, and Bross. Great day. Kite Lake is the highest cmpaground in the NF System.

Thanks for sharing!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 22 2012, 11:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

All mid-west flatlanders should plan an annual pilgrimage to the Rockies. I've known so many people who weren't willing to make a plan and stick to it. You've got this thing down. Good for you!




But you shouldn't call yourself a ho.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 23 2012, 11:57 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(toejam @ Oct. 22 2012, 11:22 am)
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All mid-west flatlanders should plan an annual pilgrimage to the Rockies. I've known so many people who weren't willing to make a plan and stick to it. You've got this thing down. Good for you!

It's funny, because I feel like everyone I meet on the trails is from the Midwest when I am out there.  And just about everyone has some Chicago connection.

Next year's trip will be dog-friendly so I can bring my new hiking companion :)  Most likely drive straight to Durango and then work my way back East over a two week period.


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trail? I don't need no stinkin trail!
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 25 2012, 5:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You may be westward, but you're CERTAINLY not a ho.  :O
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 26 2012, 4:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

that was too good....thanks for sharin' it all.....LG

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"all you gotta do is open your arms,your heart,and breathe in...the happy,happy,happy will flow into you like the sunshine flows into trees!!!"...brownmouse....as I keep on a smilin'...

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