Friday, September 30, 2011


We headed south today with our destination being Lake City, CO.  Instead of taking 1.5 hours, we didn’t see Lake City for nearly 4 hours.  That was because we saw this little road heading uphill and decided to go just a little way up it.  It was called Blue Creek Rd.  We got into some of our best fall colour yet and had to keep going until we ran out of deciduous and into all evergreens up at Soldier Pass which was at the 6 mile marker.  The road was very narrow with only a few wide spots for two vehicles to pass.  It was in very good condition but steep at times.  In our two hours or more, we only saw three other vehicles and they were all as we were on our way down.
We had our lunch along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River then wandered into Lake City which seems to be an old mining town re-invented as a winter and summer recreation area.  Many of the original buildings have been restored and several had plaques on them describing their history.  There were at least two places renting Jeeps and ATVs and skiing seemed to be big in the winter.  There were lots of hiking trails everywhere we went.
We decided to check out one of the roads leading from town which led us up to an old mining town built in 1876 called Capitol City.  The weather started to deteriorate on us while we were up there and got worse as the afternoon progressed.   Coming back down to Lake City, we continued on up to Slumgullion Pass which was at 11,530 feet.  There were some fantastic views on the way up and it would be great on a clear morning.  From the pass, we took forest service road 788 which was also one of those single lane gravel/dirt roads.  The surface was a little slippery in places with the rain but it was rock underneath so as long as you didn’t drive too fast, there was no problem.  We saw several deer.  One was a big four point but he was a little shy to wait around for me to change lenses.  We have seen a huge number of deer on our trip this year.  I think this gravel road, which led us through the Powderhorn area, was actually quicker getting us home than if we’d returned to Lake City. 

Here's a view of our Lakeside RV Park from across the reservoir

Along Highway 149

This and the following three images are on Blue Creek Rd

Highway 149 leading to Lake City

I think this is the old mining town of Henson.  It is a few miles from Lake City on the road to Capitol City

 The old town of Capitol City is in the center of this image

Pretty much all that is left of Capitol City, CO

Looking down the valley to Lake City from Capitol City

On the way up Slumgullion Pass there was this area which reminded me of Artist Point in Yellowstone 

The view from 10,800 feet on the climb up to Slumgullion Pass.  The high peak on the right is Uncompahgre which is 14,309 feet in elevation.  Lake City is down in the valley this side of  Uncompahgre Peak

Along Forest Road 788

Along Forest Road 788

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Sorry Jerry and Suzy but I’m just not finished taking pictures just yet.  For those puzzled over this statement, check out yesterday’s comment from Jerry.   Aileen and I took our lunch and headed up to Crested Butte, CO from Gunnison.  What a treat for the eyes!  Colour everywhere and the car kept stopping so I could shoot another set.  From Crested Butte we headed up to Kebler Pass and even more fantastic colour.  We were amazed at the sheer number of other people doing the same thing; it was crowded.  There were lineups of cars in both directions and lots parked and a surprising number  were actually using tripods so they were serious too.   I took 125 different shots today which meant somewhere between 30 and 40 stops for the car.  I said to Aileen at one point that I might as well just keep walking instead of getting in and driving a few feet for the next picture stop.  Of course you didn’t know the next stop was so close.  We returned via Ohio Pass which was a bit rougher road but far less people.  The clouds rolled in mid afternoon and we had a few spits of rain as will be visible in the last picture.

This is part of the community of Crested Butte

These peaks are called The Castles and from the east they had many turret formations visible

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We left Colorado Springs Monday morning and drove 283 kms to the Great Sand Dunes.  We stopped on the outskirts of Walsenburg for lunch.  There was a stall selling fresh produce so we bought several things for our larder and contributed to the local economy.   The sand dunes were pretty impressive and we got a site in the campground where we could look right out on them.   No internet for us for the two days though.
After getting the RV set up and Aileen established and heading for her nap, I drove up the gravel road below us to the “Point of no Return” where I parked then walked (and walked!) down to the dunes.  I walked along the edge of the dunes for quite a way then climbed part way up.  These dunes have the softest sand I’ve experienced.  It was one step ahead and ¾ step back each time.  Combined with the 8200 feet elevation, it was quickly exhausting.   I decided early on I was going to walk the Jeep road back which I did although it had lots of soft sand in spots too.  I did lots of shooting during the two days and got a few keepers.
One interesting thing that happened was just as we were going into the visitor’s center yesterday, my PSA photo friends from England, Brian and Diana were coming out.  I’d been seeing them all week at the conference but had no idea they were going to be at the Great Dunes.  Later in the afternoon they came by the campsite for a visit.  It was nice to have a chance to visit away from the busy conference.   They had to leave by four pm to get back to Colorado Springs before it got too dark.
We made the drive to Gunnison, CO today and it was a leisurely 240 kms.  We decided to take Highway 114 through the mountains and it was a good choice.  Just one easy 10,135 foot pass with good grades and hardly any traffic.   I have several areas in mind to check out for fall colour and interesting scenery around Gunnison.  The forecast is not the best with possible thunder showers every day for the next six.  The temperature is to get down in the low 30’sF as well so maybe there will be some snow up high to enhance the colour.  I notice the forecast just 50 miles to the west is much better so perhaps we’ll do okay.
We’ve booked two nights here at Lakeside RV Park and may extend it depending on what we find.  From here we plan to go to Grand Junction, CO for a week or more to visit friends Ken and Marie and do more exploring.
The internet is so slow here this post has taken quite some time to get up.

Some of the Juniper trees have interesting shapes

 Those who have a good imagination should be able to come up with the same thing I did with this guy

Lots of interesting small animal tracks

There were so many flowers still blooming

The last shot I took this morning before leaving from right across from our site

Sunday, September 25, 2011


We went for a drive late this afternoon up to Cripple Creek then out to Florissant passing the restored  Hornbek homestead.  We saw a large number of deer mostly in groups.   We also spotted a herd of about fifty elk.  After being a very warm morning and afternoon, the clouds rolled in and we even had a few spatters on the windshield.  As we were passing the Woodland Park hospital on the highway, there had been a motorcycle/Jeep collision.  The bike didn't look damaged but was flopped on its side in the middle of the four lane.  I wonder how the rider(s) made out since hardly any riders wear helmets in Colorado.  We had a baked potato for a late supper when we got home.

A bit of a teaser for fall colour

Cripple Creek, CO main street

A twice widowed mother of four, Adeline Hornbek, had this house built in 1878


We had a leisurely breakfast after a good night’s sleep then went back for another visit to the Garden of the Gods.   It is one of those places you could visit frequently without getting bored.  There were lots of people there already this morning and quite a number of rock climbers. 
We had a break back at the motor home then went off for another grocery run.  We likely will not have the large store opportunity for a week or however long it takes us to get to Grand Junction. There is a second blog posted today. The other will be right below this one.


As promised, here are a few pictures from my visit to the zoo on my tour last Tuesday.

The top of Helen Hunt Falls

Looking out over Colorado Springs.  Before coming here, I thought it was right in the mountains, rather than on the edge of the flat lands.  That's the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on the right just below us.

Up close and personal with a bull moose

Nice kitty!

This was taken inside a dark building at 1/40 second F8 and ISO 6400.  Gotta love these new digital cameras!  I was using my 100-400 at 340 mm.

Whadda ya want?

Rest time

Nyah, I don't think so!


For those who wondered what I saw when I went beyond Helen Hunt Falls on the Tuesday tour, I went up alongside and above this sloping water fall.