Colorado Trek - June 2013
For those that know me, I’m in the habit of booking a quarterly “wilderness adventure” months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates. One of my Phoenix Coyotes’ season ticket partners has left me a standing offer to use his Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River plus a physician friend has been bugging me to come visit him at his Telluride retreat. So a 4-day weekend in the San Juan Mountains was the crux of a plan to escape the Valley heat. Memorial Day Weekend is a traditional “stay at home, avoid the holiday madness” mark on the calendar, so the real plan was to target the following weekend (or the following after that…). I got the F-150 prepped a week in advance with oil change, inspection, 2 new tires, placed the never-used spare on the specialty rims, and given that I had to put a new tire on the rig back in early April due to an repairable puncture, I effectively had 4 new tires (foreshadowing – take note of this…). Unlike my 2 previous treks into the San Juan Mountains (check out http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=21834
), this trip was primarily a getaway with the wife and dogs with a menu list of potential destinations.
DAY #0 – Thursday 6/13
After a full day at a strategic planning event, got on the road a little later than I wanted at 6:30pm. Destination was 6 hours and 31 minutes away per Google Maps – the dog friendly Best Western Turquois Inn at Cortez CO (check out http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern ... Code=06009
). We arrived at 2:30am local time (forgot the 1 hour time change between AZ and CO), exactly 6 hours and 31 minutes’ drive time once you add in the 30 minute stop in Flagstaff for coffee and burgs.
DAY #1 – Friday 6/14
After purchasing some groceries at the City Market conveniently located across the street from our hotel, Lynn and the dogs and I arrived at the Danzl Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Telluride CO at mid-morning. After some quick unpacking and locating all the hidden padlock keys (Ralph had only equipped me with only the door keys) for the pump house and electrical panel, I had instructions to leave the cottage and outbuildings all unlocked for “Dustin the well specialist”. Dustin had installed a new pump and water system from the well earlier in the season and things weren’t operating 100 percent (more foreshadowing – take note…). Our plan was to head up the West Dolores Fork towards Dunton CO via Route#535/Dunton Road and take the FR611/Black Mesa Road 4WD road towards Black Mesa and Beaver Park and connect onto FR18/Fall Creek Road over to Woods Lake (a primo spot I visited on our last trek http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=287874
) and Hwy145 near Sawpit. We stopped along Dunton Road for a couple of photo ops prior to intersecting with FR611 near the village of Dunton. Heading up FR611 a couple of miles, I spotted a meadow full of wildflowers and open views to Dolores Peak – a suitable place to stop for lunch (and we did! Check out http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.790201 ... 1&t=h&z=15
). We continued along FR611 making multiple stops along the way at assorted beaver ponds, waterfalls, and babbling brooks. At Beaver Park, turned onto FR618/Fall Creek Road and started to climb. Had to wonder if Beaver Park (check out http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.899392 ... 8&t=h&z=15
) was an old logging camp and FR611 an old railroad bed – will have to dig into some history. As we were climbing the switchbacks of FR618 I hit the brakes as there was a recent windfall aspen blocking the road. As I hit the brakes, my ”LOW TIRE PRESSURE”
sensor was tripped. Well the aspen was too heavy to move and I could hear air pissing out of my passenger rear tire. Since we were on a notable grade, decided to make a 20 point turn and head back to the intersection of FR611 at Beaver Park. Flat tire changed – tire I had replaced in April was remarkably worn since the start of this trip – got to give factory original Goodyear Wrangler SR-A P275/65R18 a major “thumbs down” for durability! Looked like a center tread puncture from a sharp rock – yikes! Disappointed, but unfettered, we altered our route to take FR611 west to its terminus at CR-M44 and head east and then north joining onto Hwy145 just west of the Hwy62 junction near Placerville. Our detour was rewarding given the multiple elk and deer sightings, plus a close-up mother bear and cub encounter. Pulled into Telluride early evening to find out where I could get a new tire on Saturday. Telluride Tire & Auto Service located off Ilium Road was suggested by the locals (along with a “Good luck” and a smile). A “shout-out” to the gas station at Hwy145 and Telluride Road (with the Minersaurs http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=287932
) for solving my lost reading glasses problem by donating men’s readers that were sitting in their lost-and-found for a couple of years. Arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours after sunset, yet it still seemed quite well lit outside. BBQ steak with mushrooms and asparagus plus a couple of Kilt-Lifter’s to end the day. Ralph indicated that if Dustin resolved the pump problems, water would be running in the cottage. Nothing when I flushed the toilet… Fitbit mileage = 8.44 miles, 65 floors (650 feet AEG).
DAY #2 – Saturday 6/15
Got up early to drop off the flat tire at Telluride Tire & Auto Service only to discover the doors locked and the hours on the door noting open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. With cell phone reception in Telluride, also called Ralph to find out the status of the cottage pump per Dustin. The prognosis is not good – problem with electrical service box (extreme voltage fluctuation) requiring local power company to fix – no running water for our visit. With no running water at the cottage, I needed to pick up half a dozen gallon jugs of drinking water. Also, with no spare tire, our off-roading would have to be of the conservative nature. Scratch “Plan A” to head up to the glacial lakes (Clear Lake, Island Lake, Ice Lake; check out http://adventr.co/2012/08/clear-lake-ice-lake-basin/
) at the end of FR585/South Mineral Creek Road and revert to “Plan B” to head up CR#7 off Hwy 62 to explore a couple of primo sites from last visit (check out http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=287910
). Once on Hwy 62, made the requisite stops at Dallas Divide and Double RL Ranch (check out http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=287873
) to see if I could match up my fall colour photos to this year’s late spring photos. No giant hay rolls along CR#9 so we headed east along the highway to CR#7. We made our way through a couple of rain showers before stopping at the beaver dam meadow just before the Blue Lakes TH and terminus of CR#7. This time I was able to find Jason Hatfield’s (check out http://www.mountainskyphotography.com/
) exact “Teakettle and Cirque” photo location – fence line towards the restroom (large camp was set up at this location last year so I didn’t venture down to this spot). Set up lunch at this meadow and then explored the various beaver dams and side ponds along the East Fork of Dallas Creek (check out http://maps.google.com/maps?q=38.048501 ... 1&t=h&z=12
). We packed up late afternoon checking out the Blue Lake TH and Blaine Basin TH (check out http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=17812
) for future hiking treks before heading back the way we came (Hwy62 to Hwy145) while making a stop in Telluride to walk the main streets checking out the shops plus a slight detour around Trout Lake to check out the railroad remnants – water tower and trestle – along FR626 following the old railway bed (check out http://maps.google.com/maps?q=37.811513 ... 1&t=h&z=18
and http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu/images/P0 ... 81Page.htm
and http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu/images/P0 ... 74Page.htm
). Lots of elk in the meadow as you enter Telluride. Arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours after sunset (again), yet it still seemed quite well lit outside (again). BBQ dogs with mushrooms and asparagus plus a couple of Sam Adams in cans to end the day. Fitbit mileage = 7.45 miles, 21 floors (210 feet AEG).
DAY #3 – Sunday 6/16
After stopping in Rico CO (check out http://www.ricocolorado.org/vis/documen ... -30-06.pdf
) at the Mercantile Store for some light groceries, headed towards Alta ghost town and Alta Lakes along FR632/Alta Lakes Road. Given I didn’t have a spare, I thought this would be a safe road to take – just before Alta ghost town (check out http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/alta.html
) my ”LOW TIRE PRESSURE”
sensor tripped. Now I’ve been getting a ”TIRE PRESSURE SENSOR FAULT”
ever since I changed the flat tire on Friday (assumed flat tire with no tire pressure to sense would trip the fault message), so this message is thought to be real. Get out and check the tires, nothing notable, but not wanting to tempt fate, head into Telluride to check tire pressures and air up. Tire pressures all measure 35 pounds (as they should), I air up to 38 pounds to see if the sensor message is reset. Scratch “Plan A” and revert to “Plan B” – Lizard Head Trail (check out http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=16211
) with a busy TH parking area at Lizard Head Pass. We have our morning hike cut a little short as a thunderstorm comes in from the east over Sheep Mountain and Yellow Mountain. Back at the windy TH, no apparent tire pressure issues, so we decide to head downstream along the Dolores River and have lunch at the Bear Creek TH (check out http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=17813
). Trailhead lunch and an afternoon hike along Bear Creek Trail #607. I was surprised by the mountain bike and horse encounters along the trail – never encountered anyone along the other trails the past couple of days! We arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours before sunset (just for a change). BBQ dogs with corn and asparagus plus a Kilt-Lifter and Sam Adams in cans to end the day. Fitbit mileage = 10.49 miles, 78 floors (780 feet AEG).
DAY #4 – Monday 6/17
Getaway Day – back home to the Valley heat in Ahwatukee with some minor stops along the way. Quite the contrast being treated to 4 days of 75degF Hi and 45degF Lo in the Colorado San Juan Mountains… Fitbit mileage = 5.32 miles, 14 floors (140 feet AEG).
MUCHO GRACIAS to the Danzl Family for the use of their Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River
4-days in the San Juan Mountains
Many elk and deer, plus a mother bear with cub
No TV, internet, or cell phone reception
1 problematic flat tire and tire pressure sensor
1 problematic electrical box at the cottage
2 people learning to flush a toilet without running water
235 images on 2 cameras (68 on 7D, 167 on Rebel XT)
Fitbit totals of 31.70 miles and 178 floors (1780 AEG) [8.44+7.45+10.49+5.32=31.70 and 65+21+78+14=178]
Added 1386 miles to the F-150 odometer [451+141+193+97+504=1386]
Practice for August in the Kashmir Himalayas