To start at the beginning of our little getaway, start here.
We may be on our way back home, but I got a long hike in – by myself! We stopped in Grand Lake to drive around a bit, and then stopped at the Chamber of Commerce to ask about hiking in the area. The nice woman in the office gave me a fantastic map, with a few suggestions.
The plan was that my husband would go with me. Then he got tired again, because he had forgotten one of his meds at home. I’m sorry, but I was jonesing for some hiking! I needed to get out there and get a little exercise, whether it was by myself or not!
I picked the Monarch Lake Loop. I was told that it loops around the lake, so I thought this was the safest to do on my own. No problem. I’ll be able to see all sides of the lake if something went wrong, and my husband would be able to take a nap while I hiked.
Near the bathrooms (always a must stop before starting your trek!), I ran into a group of women that were in a book club together. They recommended that I start the trail on the left, because it was the toughest part, and I’d end my hike on easier terrain.
Potty break=check, Water=check, New Boots=check, Rape Whistle=check, Sweatshirt=check! Here I go!
I started out about 3:00 pm. Sunset wouldn’t be until around 6:30 pm.
There are all kinds of terrain on this trail.
Uh, oh. The following sign scares me. Wilderness. Translated to, “You’re not following the lake any longer.” I’m afraid of my own shadow! Should I turn around? Will I get lost on the trails? I’m such a freaking determined person! I figured that if I kept running into people every 10-15 minutes like I have been, and they tell me that I’m on the right path, I should be ok. I should make it back in time without the sun setting. I will keeping going!
I wish I would have taken pics of the directional signs in here. I think I ran across two, and they both had me stressed about which way to go! Every time I ran into another hiking group, I’d ask if I was on the right trail to get back to the parking lot. So far, so good!
Oh happy day! I’m on the right track! I can see the lake again! I’m on the other side now, so I’m at least 3/4 of the way through my hike.
This is it, the home stretch! The trailhead and parking area are straight ahead! It’s still daylight. I did it! And I will never do it again by myself! LOL
Towards the beginning of my hike I had ran into a couple. I asked them to pass a message on to my husband if they saw the big yellow truck. I wanted him to know that I had taken the left side of the trail first, in case he woke up and wanted to meet up with me. I figured that he could take the right side and we’d end up meeting. When I got back to the parking area, he wasn’t in the truck. I walked back towards the trailhead, and a hunter looked at me and said, “A lady with two cameras.” My husband had seen him and asked him if he’d seen me. He started to worry and went to look for me. That’s never good! Luckily he only walked about 1/4 of a mile and then turned around. Thankfully we met up before dark. I was excited to tell him about my beautiful, scary hike!
Heading back home we drove through Rocky Mountain National Park at dusk/dark. I’d never been through the park at that time. It was amazing. Since it was mating season for the Elk, visitors were pulled off alongside the roads to watch the beautiful creatures and to listen to them bugle. I was pretty surprised by all the nighttime traffic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get out to capture any images – it was cold and it had been an action packed three days. Next year I’d like to drive out there during the Rut.
To start at the beginning of our trip, start here.
Here are just a few images as we left Snowmass Village and headed to Grand Lake, Colorado. We had wanted to take this scenic bypass on the way to our getaway, but due to the traffic, we decided to wait until on the way back. We took Scenic Byway 82, and I apologize for the lousy cell pics taken through the dirty windshield. My husband said that if he stopped anymore, we’d never get to our destination!
The road lead us to Independence Pass, elevation 12,095′, which is the highest paved mountain pass, and is usually open only six months a year.
Look how ridiculously narrow this road gets. There are vehicle size restrictions on this road:
We then drove through the town of Leadville. I loved seeing many of the places that I’ve only read about.
As we continue, my husband saw a road leading up a steep hill that had tire tracks. Of course he pulls over to see if we can off-road there. We pulled over at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, which is near Leadville. The road was blocked off, but I did get a shot of the pretty lake. This link leads you to hiking information, although there is fishing also. Because it’s a six mile loop hike, I chose not to hike here.
We finally reached Grand Lake, Colorado and drove around for a few minutes. I stopped at the Chamber of Commerce to ask about hiking in the area. The woman there gave me a great map, and I decided on Monarch Lake. The next few images are from the drive through the Arapaho National Forest to get to the lake.
My next post is on my hike around the lake.
Now comes the craziness. Besides the ride being bumpy on the loop, I was white-knuckled at times. We really had no business being on that road with my husbands huge, lifted, wide-wheel based truck. As I mentioned in my previous post, the signage didn’t mention all of the “requirements”. As I also mentioned, my husband is an excellent, skilled driver. He kept telling me to look at him – “Do I look scared? I’m not worried.” Sorry folks, I’m a worry wart girl. We would never do this drive during the raining/melting season or the Winter.
The whole day was filled with stunning scenery. The trip around the loop took us about 5 or 6 hours with all of the stops that we made.
Kind of a tight fit?
Absolutely beautiful scenery though!
Here’s the sign I was talking about in the last post. The first sign that we saw at the beginning of the loop wasn’t as nearly dead and dread as this one!
All of a sudden, we finally reached the town of Crystal. This is it. From what I’ve read, I think you can actually rent these old houses. Being in the town also means that WE ARE ONLY HALF WAY!
Now, I still don’t really know where I am. I know it’s a ghost town. We pulled over so that I could read a couple signs. The above sign and the next one are actually looking back from where we just were.
I still am not sure what building they’re talking about. I walked a little past this vehicle, and BAM! I had always wanted to come here! I have seen images of this all over the internet! For some reason I thought that it would be a major hike to get to see it. I had no idea it was right off the road!!! (Although, keep in mind, it is a gravel/dirt unmaintained road for 4WD vehicles only.) The area was roped off, so I pretty much stayed legal. With some of the images that I have seen online, some people go rogue – or maybe the ropes are new. Welcome to the Crystal Mill:
I so wish we would have been able to see it a week or two prior, before most of the leaves had fallen!
Here we go again. Another 7 miles to go! From what the owners of the above vehicle told me, the road is a bit better than what we had already traveled. The woman actually said to me, “You drove on that road with THAT?”
The road, at one point, was pretty much just as bad as before the 1/2 way point. This time my husband was on the outside near the steep drop-offs.
Once again, my husband was tired. I’m sure it’s very tiring being the man who needs to drive careful so as not to get us killed. We found a place that we could pull off the road. This is Lizard Lake:
Just before climbing back into the truck, I saw some neat roots from a tree:
We also drove through a campground, but it was getting pretty dark. My next post is my last from our little getaway to the Snowmass Village area. Heading back towards home, we stopped for me to hike around Monarch Lake in the Arapaho National Forest, just South of Grand Lake, Colorado.
Head over to the next post.
Lead King Basin Loop is an 8 mile Loop situated in the White River National Forest. Top elevation is 10,000 feet. This was my 3rd off-roading experience. The first one had me white-knuckled thinking that the trucks would be damaged from the rough road. Mind you, my husband has a 9″ lift and a heavy duty suspension, but my sons truck is 3500 stock. The 2nd one wasn’t so bad, I just thought that we weren’t going to be able to find our way back to the main road because we were on no road (although my husband is a professional truck driver and he could find his way out of anything). This time, I buckled myself in and prayed that we’d be able to see our sons again.
So far, besides the switch-backs, the road wasn’t that bad.
My husband pulled of to take a snooze, and I walked around and to take pictures.
He woke up when we heard 4-wheelers coming up the road. Up until this point, we were hoping that we were on the right trail. I flagged the guys down to ask them how far we were from Crystal. In the next image, you can see where I was standing, and where my husband was. The guys were probably in their late 20’s, early 30’s, and asked if I wanted to come with them. How sweet! LOL I said to them, “Sorry, I’m with that guy.”
The best time to have done this trip would have been a week or two before. Many of the leaves had already fallen off. Unfortunately, this was the only time that we could go.
My husband played around by putting one of his front tires up on a rock.
Part III of this day will be on the 16th. Some amazing scenes on Part III in the next post!