Happy Trails CO15: Treasure Falls

I know that I’ve beaten you guys to death but this was my first chance to get this stuff done and I don’t like the idea of scheduling posts.

IMG_2939Sis was keen to visit Treasure Falls, which is just outside of a small ski village where she said some celebrities live. I just do not care but I’ll say that it’s nice compared to Vail or the other ‘posh’ areas. It’s a quaint town. It’s a wee bit touristy (even for August, hence off-season) but this is a beautiful area and everything is close to the next fantastic site to stop at if you’re driving along the highway.

There were a lot of cars (a rather large pull-out area for most pull-out areas you see) but I didn’t see a lot of people. This usually means HIKING and it does. I first tried going up the right side, which had warnings around steep grades and wet, slippery surfaces. I reckoned that I’d try a little. I got farther than I normally would go (due to VERY steep grade and my fear of heights — I can go up but the going down would be hairy as hell) on adrenaline alone. I finally had to turn back, defeated.

The only people trying this way were 2 teenaged boys. I think you will agree with me that your average teenaged boy is Stoopid. I’m fairly stoopid for following them but I did have the sense to give up.

When I got to the bottom, it was beautiful and everything but I was disappointed. Then, I saw some people coming down from a hidden path (to us) on the left of the falls. I told Sis that I just wanted to take a look and was gone for the next hour. By the time I’d gotten so far, I couldn’t turn back or I’d never get to come back that way, so I climbed on. The path was dry (mostly) but steep in some areas and I took the Ozarks Mountaineer walk (wide-legged walking, in a bit of a squat) for balance when it was a higher grade. I noticed kids climbed around but people my age all had walking poles for balance. Those things look ridiculous but for once, I wouldn’t have minded an aid. I’m used to being near trees in case of slipping but they have the trail wide enough that there’s nothing to break your fall til you’re done falling. It’s not treacherous. I’m just old.

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I stopped a couple of times to look around but you couldn’t look around well on the trail. It was enclosed by trees, so you couldn’t see out or down (mostly), which to be honest, was a plus for my phobia.

At the top, there’s not a good view of below or out too far, either, which is a bit of a drag. Oh, before the very top, there’s a little lookout bridge, which is nice to look down at the water on both sides but it only goes down a bit before brush blocks the view.

At the top, a little girl was telling her family that the well of water (where it hits first before tumbling down with more force) was knee-deep. Bear in mind, she was grammar school age. It was nice and cool at the top with that spring-fed water!

Happy Trails CO15: Mesa Verde

I couldn’t believe that I had not been using the Pano option in my many other park sites. WTF?

Truly, I normally don’t love the way they turn out but I kinda dig these. I’ll apologise now.

Fire Tower Hill, One way and the Other way:

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Fire Tower Hill, Pano way:

IMG_2906-Clicken, to embiggen

I can’t recall how far into the park you find the Fire Tower but let’s say 6 miles. You have to go farther to get to the Anasazi – Pueblo Cliff dwellings.

Meet Larry

Meet Larry, the buzzard

There’s a dandy museum at the car park (toilets and running water to wash hands!) for the hike down to the Cliff dwellings (that are open to the public — note, farther along the Loop, you can park and go to covered areas with pit houses and info but you’ll want to walk down to the main ‘show’ if physically able). If you are not, Larry’s waiting for you. Larry’s mates circle overhead to the delight of Europeans and the cackling of Southerners. ‘Look out, Marge, he’s got his eye on you. You still want to stand there or go on with me?’

It was about 97F / 36C when we were there, which even in low humidity was a bit much. They warn you to take water. We didn’t cos Stoopid. I mean, it’s not like you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s a HIGHLY-traversed hike on pavement. I’d have preferred to have water with me in that heat. The bonus was at the lowest point of the hike, you’re not only in 100% shade but there a SPRING, which blows like an air conditioner. YAY!

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Cliff dwelling, One way:

Cliff dwelling, Other way:IMG_2912

 

 

Cliff dwelling, Pano way:

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IMG_2919Cute story and So Like Me. Walk up to Ranger to ask him to take a photo of Sis and me. We sit down. He lowers the iPhone. ‘Ma’am, that wall you’re sitting on clearly states to stay off the wall.’

IMG_2922We decided to sit on the lower wall, which they allow. Hillbillies don’t mind signs, laws, walls or fences. They’re lucky I didn’t pick the wild grapes.

They call this the Treehouse. I don’t know why, it’s just along the hike. Sis wanted me to get up in it.

Sis had visited Mesa Verde many times but she hadn’t done the Loop that begins shortly after leaving the main Cliff dwelling hike / museum area. Again, we had gotten HOT and felt draggy but when she despondently asked, ‘You want to go?’ I answered the usual: ‘I’ve never been here, let’s go!’

She was SO happy that I did! It’s quite a long loop — probably not distance-wise so much as there are many things you can pull over to view. The first pull-off we chose was a fantastic overlook but the sun was in our eyes and all videos and photos were crap. I reckoned, with the word ‘loop,’ we’d probably get something better to look at as we went around. It sort of seemed to just be high desert / short foresty / scrub but then!

IMG_2926-Clicken to embiggen

IMG_2927The largest ‘house’ we had seen: Sunset (blahblahblah), perhaps ‘House.’ Can’t recall and doesn’t matter. You could see other dwellings to the sides but we were delighted to have ventured farther afield!

I crapped out on taking more photos but this was our favourite. It’s called something like Fire Dance House (to the left) and to the right something else. It was amazing and we stayed here for quite a while.

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Happy Trails CO15: Pinkerton Hot Springs

This is on your left, as you’re nearing Durango from Silverton. You can’t miss it because it’s BIG  and YELLOW and people are pulling over to get in it. I’d have put it in the last post but that was the post that would never end.

Pinkerton Hot Springs

Pinkerton Hot Springs

It’s not actually hot and it doesn’t reek of sulphur the way a lot of hot springs I know do. While it’s obviously more than one mineral, the blurb said something about sodium. I reckoned calcium but my degree in Chemistry got lost in the post. Everybody who knows me in person gets to hear me proclaim, as often as I can sneak it in: ‘I’m a Scientist.’

Things like, ‘Oooo! I’m going to use oranges in the stock this time instead of lemons because we’re out of lemons and you know, I’m a Scientist.’

It looked like calcium, sodium and lime, to me, with some iron and I’m sure that I’m right. -I mean, hell, those are everywhere, aren’t they?

Happy Trails CO15: Silverton to Ouray, Million Dollar Highway–Red Mountain Pass, Animas River Toxic Dump, Molas Pass, Durango

Let me first apologise for not having my own documentation  but a little from Silverton and the sweet, spring-fed creek when you climb out of Silverton, far below. I was feeling a little off from lack of sleep (had maybe 1 hour) and decided to enjoy the scenery with my eyes and not bother with anything else.

Ho-lee-Crap.

comparison: ain't supposed to be caution yellow

comparison: ain’t supposed to be caution yellow

Dunno if you kids saw in the news (it made international headlines) about the toxic waste spill in the Animas River in Durango but sho-nuff, that’s where our destination was before it happened; however, by the time we were making our way, the Caution Yellow waste had made it to Ouray, where I had no intention of getting in the river, which had been our 2nd plan upon learning of the toxic waste in Durango, when we saw it was down there, already. The ROCKS and boulders along the road looked painted! See link in this paragraph for other photos.

stolen from Dr. Google

Stolen from Dr. Google…it looks like this in the straight stretches. Areas of the St. Francois and Arcadia Valleys look very much like this but at lower elevations in the Ozarks. Also, they were mines heavily. OBVI

Let’s pause from the Toxic Waste Death Dump to look at the Highway to Hell, itself, Red Mountain Pass via 550. -you really should read the newspaper article  Talk about fun? When we came through, instead of being a 2-lane

Quit yer whining! They've got both lanes here.

Quit yer whining! They’ve got both lanes here. Also, skived from Dr. Google.

highway with no guardrails, it was a 1-lane highway with no guardrails. ONE LANE that both directions shared. ADVENTURE!

It’s slow-going enough without sitting where you are for an half-hour, waiting for your direction to get its chance to creep along.

 

Where was I?

Silverton is something you simply have to get to if you’re in the area. First, let me explain that if you don’t want to drive, there’s a Narrow Guage Rail (steam engine) train that runs from Durango daily. Apparently, tickets are pushing 100USD and double that for 1st Class. I don’t know how one can enjoy 1st Class when in an open-windowed, coal-fleck-spitting train car but there’s me. I’ve never taken this train but I’ve been on 2 steam trains and you can keep them, thanks. Silverton is quite the little metropolis of…well, to live there year-round, you have to be a special kind of hippie or I’m going to say Weirdo or genuine Mountaineer and if you’re a Mountaineer (I’m a Hillbilly, so don’t look cross-eyed at me unless you came out that way), you wouldn’t hang in Silverton. You’re out a bit, hiding from all the bloody tourists. And what a pack of tourists! Okay, so I’m a tourist but all the languages and motorcycles and RVs. Gack!

The High Street is paved and the next streets back on either side are gravel. Side streets are gravel, as well.


pork sundaeSis wanted to go into the pink-fronted BBQ building, which she had seen on Food Network or something. She opted for the Pork Sundae. It’s BBQ pork with coleslaw on top and erm…mashed potatoes, baked beans? I don’t know cos with Celiac,  you do NOT go asking a bunch of backwoods hippies if they know about cross-contamination. Eat yer fecking beef jerky and have a cup of tea.

We learnt that for 250USD, you can spend the night in a caboose in the garden of the Wyman Historic Hotel. When we asked, I think they thought we were a married lady-couple. We didn’t tell them that we’re not but it’s kinda funny when we get that now and then. I mean, it’s funny that they feel they need to sell us on a ‘romantic’ option–with ‘plenty of privacy.’ I suppose that’s a plus if you’re a lady-couple looking for a romantic and private option in Silverton, though I find it hard to believe with a population of 300, there’s much that’s private enough.

We stopped at a lovely pullout in part of the Molas Pass but, as usual, there were too many people there for me to enjoy myself properly. I still went down to sit by the water and stuck my fingers in to test the temperature. We also stopped at the big scenic overlook area. Instead of walking way around, we climbed up over boulders but opted for the easier but longer way back. HAR!

Note: I dropped audio output on the 1st clip because the only thing you had to hear was ear-splitting wind noise. The 2nd clip is ambient sound.

We ended up in Durango after dark and I was durangued-beat. The next morning, Sis had to get to New Mexico. I wanted to visit Arches (NM, not AZ) Park but thankfully, read a long, positive review that put me right off! I’m sure it’s cool but it’s no Arches, AZ. Instead, after the long day of her working, we hit Durango for its touristy goodness. Some will get postcards. I had vodka tonics and had to dive into an Irish-ish pub to get away from an drunken Indian who really liked my fair skin, freckles and red hair. I only mention that he was Indian cos if he hadn’t been creepy, I’d have liked to talk to him about growing up there. You can’t swing a dead cat in Durango without hitting Portuguese-speaking tourists. There were also French, German and Italians (not to mention a noteworthy quantity of Proud Montanans) but DAMN with the Portuguese? I mean, even if they all came together in a coach, it had to be more than one coach-load.

Happy Trails CO15: Black Canyon – SILVER!

If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon or Cahors, France, scale back your expectations for Black Canyon of Gunnison River.

I’m not saying that it wasn’t fabulous because natural beauty IS! Especially these awesome sites and I don’t mean my generation’s annihilation cum hyperbolic misuse of that word  –also for calling it an annihilation  It’s astounding when you stand at the rim of a canyon’s cliff and gaze out into the Forever of myriad geological formations, flora and fauna all about you. X marks the spot. It’s a treasure.

Tomichi Point. I don’t know who Tomichi-san was but while we were there, a busload of Japanese tourists showed up and we cleared out since it appeared they were taking back their family claim.

Black Canyon is (I’m told) the second deepest canyon in the US, following the obvious: Grand Canyon. If you’re only going to see one big-arsed canyon in your life, don’t make it Black Canyon. Go Grand. However, if you have wee ones, can’t spend as much money or time? Black Canyon is approachable. I saw a father with 2 very small boys (the smallest toddled nearly off a cliff, missed it by 4 inches). Guess dad’s never seen the Grand Bumbles bounceCanyon? It’s that kind of awesome. He almost let baby boy take a tumble where even the Bumble couldn’t bounce back.

Gunnison Point is next. At both Points, you an park and hike. We walked around a bit but there were too many people to my liking. Recall, as an Hillbilly from the Ozarks, if I see anybody I don’t know or want within well, my sight? It’s too many people. I’m used to frolicking unimpeded by PEOPLE.

SILVER!Speaking of People, I was going to think about maybe or perhaps that I might-could get me some of these-here SILVER flecks. I guess they’re not silver or people would’ve been chipping away at the rock. But wherever you looked, large flakes of this silvery, brilliantly-shining mineral could be found. It looks like white here.

And I saw an Eastern Collared Lizard, which I charmingly quoted from Monty Python as a newt.

 

There were two males, posturing, which was pretty funny. Sis thought they were begging for food. I was like, ‘He’s saying that he’s gonna kick your ask.’

Happy Trails CO15: Trail Ridge Road, Rainbow Curve, Huffer Hill, Continental Divide

And on This Day, we planned on visiting the Stanley Hotel and did. Then, Sis took me through Estes Park-proper. Now, I’ve heard of Estes Park my entire life and I thought that meant it was a state or national park. Turns out, it’s a township but I suppose there may be a park called the same. At any rate, there are lots of parks and areas such-like in and about Estes Park.

I think Sis couldn’t quite grasp that I didn’t want to tromp about the town with the other tourists. Apparently, her family and friends usually  want –demand to do just that. I would rather jump in a lake. -really

Or in the instance of most things this ‘tour,’ take a hike. -really

She asked if I’d like to do Trail Ridge Road. I replied with my norm: It’s all new to me. Let’s do it!

Some thirty years ago, Spike took The Duchess on a ride through some of Colorado. When Spike was a little asshole, he lumberjacked in the mountains of Colorado. Many boys from the Ozark Mountains ‘summered’ -not the usual sense, eh? as lumberjacks cos if there’s a few things we know, it’s roughing it and cutting down trees. Yes, the Ozark Mountains are old and tired, they’re sweet, rolling and mounds and ravines, springs and streams with rivers that are clear and cold. The mountains of Colorado are quite bit younger! They’re uppity and pointy and proud but we ain’t askert of none of that.

fine acting skills remake of The Duchess

fine acting skills remake of The Duchess

Anyhoozles, Dutch grew up a Flatlander on the border of Canada with cousins down the road as Canadians and she fancies sticking closer to sea level. There exists (sorry to not have it for you) a photograph of mum sitting on one of these stone ‘guard rails’ along Trail Ridge Road. Now, what’s funny is that I’m powerfully afraid of heights but this was fine (unless I looked over). When Dutch did it, she was not acting. It’s probably the ugliest photo she ever made. Dad had to toss her up onto the wall and she couldn’t get down, so she was trapped, which is pretty funny since he’s an asshole and she’s worse. Well, back then. Now, they’re grand. We had to reenact the moment. -impressive acting skills, yes? And I’ve never had a class!

As we went along Trail Ridge Road, we came to the well-marked ‘Rainbow Curve.’ I’m told there are often rainbows here. There wasn’t a rainbow when I was there but it is a lovely outlook. There were also tons of tourists. -and pit toilets! I’m a fan of frequent chances to pee

People were –illegally feeding the birds and chipmunks. Also, unfortunately, Sis failed to photograph the chipmunk that JUMPED ONTO MY LAP. I was not feeding them. -I’m a Hillbilly, we don’t feed wildlife unless we’re convincing them that being Right There is a Good Idea because we want to Eat Them

The wee bastard was so slight, I didn’t feel it! I looked down, where my iPhone was in my left hand, crossed over my right, in time to see him raise up on his haunches to put his front paws on my phone. Fucker! I said Sis’ name in a whisper three times and she finally turned to see him leap off but no proof. Poop.

You have to kinda look closely. I don't want to use filters or jack with the natural loveliness, so squint or hit command and + or control and + to zoom

You have to kinda look closely. I don’t want to use filters or jack with the natural loveliness, so squint or hit command and + or control and + to zoom

We reached Trail Ridge Road Lodge -read: gift shop and larger pit toilets after it had closed for the day. I didn’t mind but it was sort of fun to see the workers pile out and cram into a large van to commute down off the mountain. I noticed a rainbow -not at MT delighted at Trail Ridge Road LodgeRainbow Curve but here, at Trail Ridge Road Lodge and snapped some video for perspective and photo for purty. I also was extremely pleased with the surroundings!

Huffer Hill Trail headThen, I noticed people walking up a hill. Trail Ridge Road Lodge is at 11,796 ft elevation. The summit is at 12,500 ft up Huffer Hill. I headed in that direction. Please note, this is steeper than it looks, there’s a turn at what appears as the top in this photo and you go higher again and bear in mind: this is TWELVE THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED FEET ELEVATION. Unless you’re training at high altitudes, this kicks your ass. Men, women, children and very, very fit athletic teens were all whining.

‘You aren’t going to hike the rest of the way?’ In spite of the prevailing winds, I heard Sis but didn’t turn back. ‘HELLZ, YEAH!’

Cos: I’ve never been here before. Why not?

I had to sit down three times. I’d like to add that I do not do altitudes above 5,000 ft well. I have a prescription because I’ve had life-threatening altitude sickness. At the summit, there was a nice family from Wisconsin taking photos and offered to photograph me.

YAY!!!Don’t you know who showed up, after all? Sis! I had clambered to the highest rock and as I came down to greet her, used her shoulder without asking cos SISTER. I’ve grabbed onto her for almost 40 years when off-balance or in water over my head. -she’s handily 6′ 

And down we went. Shortly, we came to a lake. People were fishing for rainbow trout but that’s not enough to make us -me shut up. I forget the name of the lake (there are a few, mostly named women’s names? This could’ve been Lake Marie cos that was one) but I’ll remember it for Sis mentioning Hamm’s, me starting to sing and her doing backup vocals. Awesome! And if you notice the mentalist being completely an ahole, there’s me. Again.

They played these ads when we were little. Proof that we did a fabulous job:

I particularly like that they appealed to kids. Goodness knows it worked on us! I can’t remember shite but we can sing The Beer Refreshing, yo.

Then, to what did my wandering eyes should appear but–

‘Pull over!!!’

Continental DivideIt’s was the first time that I crossed the Continental Divide (by foot)! Luckily, some broad stopped, too, to document the Original East Coast/ West Coast Rumble. Apparently, I’m West Coast?

 

Happy Trails CO15: Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel is famous. So famous that you probably know it, even if you didn’t know the name.

It’s the Stanley!

Honey I'm Home

‘Honey, I’m HOME!’

 

Stanley historic

It’s historical in other ways, too, but most people don’t give a crap.

 

imgresWe visited per my request because Goddaughter is planning on getting married there and having her reception. There are several buildings and gardens that make up the Stanley. They have even planted a labyrinth due to years of tourists asking, ‘Where’s the maze?’ -the labyrinth from the film never existed at the Stanley. They had to go someplace else to shoot those scenes but now, they’ll have their own and it’s right, smack-dab in the front courtyard, which seems ridiculous to me but money is money

Part of the foyer. There’s a great deal of memorabilia part-tout. Downstairs, there’s a small café next to the ghost tour reception area.

You can gaze at antiques and a great deal of photos of famous people all over the place. My fave was of Peter Gabriel circa 1994. It was fun seeing him in dorky white sport socks and trainers. He looked happy. Who wouldn’t be in this setting?