Colorado July 2017
Dates: July 17-25, 2017
People: Mark, Sarah, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Denny, Marcia
- 7-9-10 (Boys Out Early)
- 7-17 (Travel Day/Black Canyon NP)
- 7-18 (Uncompahgre Peak)
- 7-19 (Pontoon in Curecanti)
- 7-20 (Free Day)
- 7-21 (Kayaking in Curecanti)
- 7-22 (Cottonwood Pass)
- 7-23 (Mt. Princeton)
- 7-24 (Huron Peak)
- 7-25 (Quandary Peak/Travel Day)
SUNDAY JULY 9 to SUNDAY JULY16
Jonah and Seth went out early to Colorado with Mom and Dad.
MONDAY JULY 17
Luke, Sarah, and I were up at 3:30am for a very early flight. We grabbed a light snack of a breakfast, got things in the car and were out of the house by 4:05am. We drove to USPark on Middlebelt and got our car parked. A shuttle was by our vehicle fairly quickly to pick us up and then dropped us off at the airport. The shuttle dropoff is on the other side of the road so we had to head upstairs, move across the crosswalk and then down to the terminal for check-in. We got through checkin and security without any trouble and were at the gate by 5:10am for our 6am flight.
The flight left on time. I watched some of Fantastic Beasts until I started falling asleep. I then read a bit of David Roberts' "True Summit" on the 1950 Annapurna Ascent. Luke slept for a lot of the flight. Sarah mostly read and slept.
We arrived at 6:36am mountain time, just under 30 minutes early. We got our bags and then shuttled to Denver's car rental area. The line for Advantage Car was long and we waited awhile. They finally got us checked in and gave us a nice Toyota Camry with lots of hail damage on it.
We made our way west out of Denver and onto US285. In Conifer we stopped at a Sonic for a breakfast snack. We stopped again at about 10:15 at a gas station in Fairplay for me to get a drink and hit the bathroom. It wasn't until 12:27p that we made it to the KOA in Gunnison where we finally met all the others. Seth and Jonah had been having fun riding bike and playing in the game room at the campground. We had hamburgers on the grill and tator tots for lunch.
At 2:05p we left for Black Canyon National Park. It was a long drive! We stopped at the Hermits Rest Overlook for some pictures. It wasn't until 4:22p that we made the trailhead for our hike.
After the hike we drove the north rim drive east stopping for some amazing pictures at Big Island View. Hated to say it, but these views were almost better than the ones we hiked to at Exclamation Point. We also drove on to Kneeling Camel view where the views were slightly less impressive. This was pretty much the end of the road. We were pretty sure this was our first trip to the north rim of Black Canyon and so wanted to get the most of it after such a long drive.
We drove on out to the main highway and then headed north to the little town of Crawford where we found a nice restaurant called Diamond Joe Saloon. It looked like it had been recently renovated and fit nicely into the small town. Dad and I tried Shock Top beers. Sarah and I had their french dip with mozzarella and fries. It was pretty good.
It was 9:45p when we got back to the trailer. We got packed up for the morning's 14er hike and by 11p we were in bed.
TUESDAY JULY 18
We were up at 3:45am today for our 14er drive and hike. This was two mornings in a row of early rising for me. The boys were a little hard to get up at this early hour but we got them going enough to get a little food in them and then into the truck. We left the cabin at 4:15am for the long drive to Lake City and then on to Nellie Creek. It wasn't until 6:40am that we finished the drive up the 4WD road to the trailhead.
We finished at 2:20p and were back to the trailer in Gunnison at 4:44pm. We returned to a torrential downpour hitting the south side of Gunnison. The campground was covered with puddles so much so that it was nearly impossible to get out of the truck without getting our shoes completely drenched. We heard the campground office even flooded. We had sat in the truck about 10 minutes after getting back hoping the rain would subside. The flooded grass would remain so until near our departure on Friday.
For supper we headed into Gunnison at 6:35pm to eat at Gunnisack with Sarah's friend from grade school Tiffany, her husband Joe, and their two daughters who were similar age to Luke and Jonah. It was a really nice family restaurant. I tried their BBQ Tex Mex Samich (minus the jamica slaw) with their mac-n-cheese for side. I also had two Mirror Pond Pale Ale's which were very tasty. We had a nice visit with Sarah's old friend and her family.
After supper we headed back to the trailer. I took a "nap" shortly after 9p with my lack of sleep finally catching up with me. At 10p with all the beds setup I finally went to bed for the night with everyone else.
WEDNESDAY JULY 19
We made reservations ahead of time today to rent a pontoon boat for the day. We would have it from 7:30am until 4pm. With a full day having taking place yesterday we figured not everyone would be ready to roll by 7am today and so only a small group went to start. Luke and Jonah were all ready to fish and so Papa took them over first to get the boat. Seth had been lagging on sleep and so really needed another hour or two today. The first group fished that first hour or two but didn't have much luck. Group two joined them around 10am. We had to take time to prep all the food and our lunch. It was also chilly this morn and so we were not sure what to pack clothing wise. We dressed warm to start.
Group 2 upon arrival at the Elk Creek Marina had to walk all the way out on the docks to the marina to grab a cart and then walk it all back to our car. We then walked this all the way back down to the marina. There we got Seth fitted for a life vest as all kids were required to wear one. We radio-ed with Dad on the boat and they came in and grabbed us. It was 10:15a when we got going again. We headed out east into Iola Basin. It was beautiful sitting at the front of the boat with feet stretched out. At this point sitting in the sun was quite comfortable still. At the east end of Iola Basin we got to the Lake City Bridge. East of there the river narrows some and it is almost canyon-like. I would have loved to boat in there but we weren't allowed to, and possibly not able to with our canopy, to fit under the bridge.
Instead we fished for 45 minutes or so in those waters but again the boys didn't have any luck. We started heading west-ward and they were trolling now, just dragging lures in the water as the boat very slowly moved forward. We trolled into the middle of Iola Basin where we had seen others fishing. In here we also started to eat our lunches. I had a PBJ sandwich, Dad and Luke were ham and turkey sandwiches. As lunch finished up and so did the fishing we motored back to the marina for a bathroom break.
After the break we headed out west. We motored all the way through the Cebolla Basin taking in the beautiful views. The boys each got to drive a little along the way. We then motored into the Sapinero Basin and went west coming up just short of the Blue Mesa Dam. We turned around and now headed eastward again. Along the return trip we played "Head's Up" on my Android phone. We stopped again at Bay of Chickens to fish and yet again no luck for the boys. All through the afternoon we had seen storm clouds over the mountains but over the reservoir there was nothing. Well by 2:30p or so the storms were starting to come closer to us. We started heading out of the Bay by 3pm and began moving back to the Marina. We docked at the marina at 3:15p with dark clouds starting to loom. I quickly jogged up to our car to move it down close to the docks. Many other groups had also just docked and so the carts were all used. As we loaded up the car it started to lightly rain on us. We got everyone and everything loaded withotu the rain amounting to too much yet. We were back to our camp by 4:15p.
It was a great day on the waters. We were disappointed the fishing didn't amount to more but the views and the time spent were well worth it all. Our day wasn't over though. We had been wanting to try out the Gunnison Rec Center with the whole group as Mom and Dad had taken Jonah and Seth to it the week prior. We drove over there not long after getting back from boating. It was $8/person and that got you into pretty much everything including their climbing wall. It was about a 20 foot wall with 5 auto-belay routes and one simple rope route. There was one man watching over all of it making sure that kids (and an adult or two) would be properly secured on the auto-belays. They had climbing shoes and harnesses there for everyone. All the boys and I gave it a go. Jonah and Seth had already tried it last week. I was able to do the hardest routes, 4 and 6 first. Then I went back and did the easier route 1, 2, and 3. I could feel my hands and upper arms getting tired from the workout.
After climbing the younger two headed to the pool with Papa while Luke and I went to the gym to shoot baskets for a bit. When Luke was done he went to join the swimmers while I walked laps in the gym with Mom and Sarah. When we were donewe decided there was still time to cook over the fire for supper and so Mom, Sarah, Jonah and I left in our vehicle to head home and start.
I got the campfire going while Mom got the supplies for pizza sandwiches ready. When the fire was ready the others got back and I worked on cooking pizza sandwiches for everybody, they were really good! After supper we also were able to do smores.
In the evening Dad and I deliberated whether we would hold to our Thursday plan of driving down to Lake City and beyond tomorrow to hike Handies or Redcloud. Knowing it would be another drive near 3 hours (and hearing the boys gripes about car time already) we decided it was best to find another option. The monsoonal weather report in the San Juans also played a heavy influence on the decision.
We were all down for sleep by 10:30pm.
THURSDAY JULY 20
Since we changed out of our climbing plans today we ended up with a free day. I made plans to start the empty morning with a trail run. I was up at 6:40am, Dad got up shortly thereafter. By 7:30a I was on the road to drive over to Hartman Rocks.
I was back to camp at 8:45am. We decided to have a go at kayaking this morning. Just after breakfast we drove on over to the Elk Creek Marina again to see what they had. Unfortunately they didn't have enough small craft available for us to rent. We made reservations for tomorrow morning of a 3-person canoe and a tandem kayak. We headed back to camp.
The boys started fishing with Papa in the trout pond at the KOA campground. They ended up catching 9 fish, 3 a piece. The pond was not catch and release so if you caught it you keep it, for $5 a piece of course. Dad filleted and cleaned the fish so that we could have them for supper later.
For lunch today we just did leftovers out of the frig whenever anyone got hungry. Dad didn't finish filleting the catch of fish until 2pm. When we were all ready at 3p we drove back over to Hartman Rocks to hike a bit. I showed the boys some of what I found in the morning. We were all only over there for about 30 minutes when the clouds grew pretty dark on us and chased us back home. It only rained just a bit. Back at camp the boys and I had a fun Stickman Basketball tournament with my tablet and game pads.
For supper Dad cooked 8 of the fillets of trout on the grill. We also had a Stouffer's lasagna and corn on the cob. We also tried the wine that Mom had brought back from their South Africa trip. It was all very good. The fish did still have some small bones in it but the meat tasted great. I worked a campfire from supper time on and we relaxed the evening away. We did have smores again. Tonight was also the only night we setup the tent outside the trailer. Jonah and Seth joined Mark in the tent.
FRIDAY JULY 21
Today, the boys were all up at 6am to get ready to head back to the marina. We could pickup our small boats as early as 7am and so we wanted to be there close to it. We were time crunched on the back end needing to check out of the KOA by 11am. We left the camp at 6:45am and were on our boats by 7:25am. I started in the tandem kayak with Jonah, while Dad captained the canoe with Luke and Seth. We all had life vests. I carried my phone in a zip-lock bag and an nalgene for water. We left our wallets in the car. I wore zip-off pants and my white long-sleeve shirt.
We set out from the marina heading south to get out of the small bay the marina was found in. We worked out to the edge of the breakwater and then moved west trying to stick within 20-30 yards of shore. I enjoyed getting into a rhythm with the strokes of the kayak paddle. I did notice everytime one side of the paddle would be lifted up Iwas dripping a lot of water down onto my legs. I took my zip-off leggings off to help with this. I'm not sure if this is a bad part of my technique or just typical. We followed west and around a corner heading north towards the Elk Creek campground and the Bay of Chickens. In the kayak we were faster moving than them in the canoe. When we neared the campground we pulled up to a shoreline. We traded Jonah and Luke so that I had Luke with me in the kayak.
We headed back out and paddled down into the Bay of Chickens. The water was up several feet in the reservoir so we were paddling around some small trees and were in areas that are often just land. When we got close to an hour of being out we turned around. We paddled back to the same shore spot where we had swapped up people earlier. This time I took Seth in the kayak. This was in part to give everyone a chance, and in part that Dad needed Luke's help to row the canoe back to the marina. With time pressing upon us we continued to paddle our way back to the marina and did so by 9:25a. We got in a nice two hours of paddling and went about 4 miles in total.
It was 10a when we got back to camp and we spent a quick hour getting the trailer ready to be moved out. I spent my time packing up the tent from the night before. We pretty much made it on time and we were out on the road heading east. We made our way to Salida where we hit the Walmart to get some grocerie and other essentials. After Walmart we headed over to the Subway in Salida for lunch.
From there we drove up to Buena Vista and on to the Arrowhead Point Campground Resort. They got us checked into site #5 and even helped Dad back in the trailer to our spot. The spots at Arrowhead were very narrow and only allowed one vehicle. We had to put our rental in an overflow parking area. We also wouldn't be able to setup the tent there. Otherwise it was a decent camp resort with a volleyball pit, small basketball hoop, and several loops for walking. The primary tent sites were up a steep hill and offered nice seclusion from the RV area. If they didn't also come at such a steep price for tent sites with little amenities we would have considered putting up a tent there.
I spent time walking all over the campground to get some steps in and to explore. I took some beautiful pictures in the upper tent area. We got some drizzle in the evening. For supper we got some frozen pizzas. We made a fire after 8pm. Had the boys in bed by 10pm today.
SATURDAY JULY 22
I was up at 6:05am today to get an early run in. Once I got my morning basics settled I set out onto the dirt road at the north end of my campground and followed it west and south up a hill as it found a due south course in the flat plain of the Arkansas Valley. The views were great and I got 3 miles in. I then made it back to camp for breakfast and to pack for this morning's hike. We left our camp, all but Mom and Sarah, to drive to Cottonwood Pass to meet Bob and Joyce for a hike. We left for the pass at 8:22am and made it at 8:58am.
On our drive back from the pass we stopped in Buena Vista to hit the Shopko for a few essentials. We also invited Bob and Joyce back to the trailer with us for lunch. We had basic cold cuts for lunch and then enjoyed visiting for awhile in the afternoon. Around 4pm Sarah, Jonah, and I drove into BV to walk around a bit and try a few shops. The others all went to Cottonwood Lake. We didn't spend long in BV and then we also drove up to the Lake to watch the fishing. Luke caught a nice trout but we returned it. As the weather cooled off up at the lake and fishing came to its end we headed back into BV and decided to have a nice supper at the Branding Iron. I tried their Eddyline River Runners Pale Ale, it was great. I also had their BBQ Pork sandwich which was also good.
After supper we headed back to the cabin. I worked on getting myself, Luke and Jonah packed up for Princeton in the morning. Seth wasn't into the hike after his tough Uncompahgre experience, and after his troubles this morning on the CDT we all decided ahead of time not to take him on Princeton. We watched "Yours, Mine, and Ours" movie on the TV and were in bed by 10p.
SUNDAY JULY 23
We were up at 4:25a today to get ready for Princeton. Dad and I both got ourselves ready and then dragged Jonah and Luke out of bed to grab a bite to eat and get into the truck. We were out of camp by 4:57a. We drove on down to Princeton, up the 4WD road and parked at the radio towers by 5:51a.
We were back to the trailer from our hike at 3:25p. It wasn't long after we got back that we drove on down to the Salida Aquatic Center so the boys could swim. We had the boys and Dad in the pool there til it closed at 6p. After that we drove on back to the trailer and got a fire going. We did pizza sandwiches again for supper over the fire. It drizzled on us a bit while we were cooking. We stood under the awning trying to stay dry. After supper the rain stopped and we sat around the fire enjoying the evening. We also followed the end of the Cubs-Cardinals game. The Cubs won! We did smores again tonight. As usual, we were all in bed by 10pm.
MONDAY JULY 24
Today Dad and I were up at 4:50a. We made a quick prep and were out the door at 5:14a. We drove on over to the trailhead for Huron and up the 4WD road to get started.
We were back to the cabin not long after lunch time. We grabbed cold cuts with the rest of the group. Like other days we made a pretty quick turnaround. Around 2p we sent Dad, Luke, and Jonah on to Cottonwood Lake to fish again. The rest of us joined them an hour later (except for Sarah). We were up at the Lake for just over an hour or so to watch the boys do some more fishing. We were back to the trail by just before 5p.
We sepnt the evening packing up to be able to leave in the morning. I had a fire going the whole night to try and burn up our remaining firewood, and to enjoy it of course. We did pork chops on the grill, corn on the cobs, and tator tots for supper. We also had smores one more time on the fire. Mom and Seth also worked on homemade ice cream which we enjoyed for dessert. It was about 11p tonight when we finally got to sleep.
TUESDAY JULY 25
For our final morning we were up at 6:05am to begin the final packing of the trailer. The goal was to be gone by 8am. Thankfully we got most of the packing work done last night. Sarah and I pretty much had all of our stuff done and much of it carried to the car last night. This morn we did breakfast and then took care of finishing touches outside the trailer. Jonah had a rough morning of getting up so early and then wanted to go home with Sarah and I instead of the long drive home.
We were on the road by 7:48am, 12 minutes early. The trailer group headed for CO Springs and eventually to I70 and the great state of Kansas. Sarah and I headed for Hoosier Pass. It had been lightly raining at camp in the morning but thankfully that stopped somewhere out over South Park. Past Hoosier Pass we made it to the McCullough Gulch trailhead for Quandary at 8:57am. Sarah dropped me off there with plans to be back at 12:15pm.
Sarah ended up getting me at noon as she was back early and I finished a bit early. The weather had been really good for me. We drove on down to Breckenridge and headed into the Breck Brewery for lunch. I tried the Breck Avalanche Beer. I had their buffalo wings and an order of beer cheese fries for lunch. Wow, it was all good.
After lunch we headed up to Frisco, got gas, and then drove up to Loveland Pass. We stopped at the pass, walked around a bit and got some pictures. We still had time to kill but didn't know what we wanted to do with it, so we at least started driving towards Denver. I stopped along I70 at the Stevens Gulch trailhead to see what it looked like for future Grays Peak hikes.
At the turnoff for US6 I decided to take the slightly more scenic route to Denver. We took US6 and it was neat driving the highway along Clear Creek. We saw a number of rafters down on the river. When we made it to Golden it was then a short drive in traffic back onto the interstate. I70 was packed full of cars and we were mostly in thick rush hour traffic until Pena Blvd. On Tower Rd we topped off the gas tank and then headed for the rental return. They got the car checked in with no trouble and then dropped us off at the airport. We had driven 869 miles on the trip. It was just before 6p when we made it into the terminal making us just over 2 hours early. We headed out to our gate to find out our flight was going to be delayed 30 minutes. I grabbed a slice of pizza for supper and a Dew. Near our time to board we found out they were still waiting on our flight crew which made us another 15 minutes late. By the time we finally left we were about an hour late.
Inflight we had a lot of turbulence and it delayed the start of our inflight drinks and snacks. In fact, the crew never got the go ahead and we never had anything inflight. Too bad, we had a number of drink coupons we wished to use. We arrived into Detroit 40 minutes late, it was about 1:45am. We got our bags, shuttled to USPark on Middlebelt for the car and headed home. It was 2:58am when we got home. We sure were happy we didn't try to ask any friends to be out at such a time to pick us up.