Salida CO for 4th of July

June 27 – July 10

On Wednesday, June 27, it is time for me to leave my beautiful camp above Twin Lakes. I could stay a couple more days, but I want to get settled into a new camp where I can stay through July 4th. When I pull out, I have a couple options in mind. There is a dispersed camping area in the national forest about 20 miles south of Buena Vista. This is quite a popular area though; and the better sites usually stay occupied. I had driven through to scout the area when I was in Buena Vista a couple days ago. At that time there wasn’t much open. The second option is further south on Hwy 285 near Salida. 

I head south not sure of just where I will end up. In Buena Vista, I stop at Snowy Peaks RV Park to use their dump station and fill the fresh water tank. From there I continue south. As I am driving out of Buena Vista, I decide to go on to the Salida Wildlife Management Area. This area is only eight miles from Salida, which has a Walmart and other stores. So it will be more convenient. And I should get a better site there.

As you enter the WMA, there are a couple meadows with campsites. They were both full so I continue on. Further up the road I find a nice pull through site on the south side of the ridge. I like the privacy of this site; and I am far enough off the road that there isn’t much dust from traffic. It’s about 1.5 miles past where the pavement ends on CR250. The road is pretty bumpy and washboardy, but if you drive slowly any vehicle can make it. There were large motorhomes up near me.

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There is a fair amount of traffic along here as the road leads to a trailhead for the Colorado Trail and two 14ers – Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak.

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When I arrive on Wednesday I have good Verizon service at my camp. However, on Thursday the Spring Fire to the south burned a microwave tower that carries Verizon cell service and Charter Communications cable and internet. For the next four days I don’t have cell service and the internet service is also out at the library. It’s scary how much we depend on the internet now to do most anything! Without Google, I actually have to drive around looking for places – how old fashioned 🙂 . But on a serious note the fires are very bad this year, with the Spring Fire being the worst. It has burned close to 108,000 acres and destroyed 132 homes.

On Friday, June 29, I hike the Kroenke Lake trail. This trail goes up Cottonwood Creek to the lake which is just below Browns Pass. It is a little over four miles to the lake with 1,700ft of elevation gain. The lake is at 11,500ft.

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Cottonwood Creek

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View to south along Kroenke Lake Trail

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Footlog bridge over Cottonwood Creek

There were quite a few flowers in bloom. I believe these are Jacobs Ladder.

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Jacobs Ladder

Parry’s Primrose.

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Beautiful view as you approach the lake.

 

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Approaching Kroenke Lake

The wind was very strong coming down off the pass. There were little white caps on the lake.

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One last shot before heading back down.

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On Tuesday, July 3, I drive to the St. Elmo ghost town which is on Chalk Creek about twelve miles above Mt Princeton Hot Springs. This is a historic district and one of the best preserved ghost towns in Colorado. Most of the buildings are privately owned. There is a general store/ice cream shop in operation in one of the buildings.

The buildings are from the 1880’s. A couple are currently undergoing some repairs and restoration.

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The road up to St. Elmo is well maintained and accessible for any vehicle. Beyond St. Elmo it becomes 4WD. On the way back down I drive around Alpine Lake. This is a private lake with no public access. But a forest service road goes around the north side.

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Alpine Lake along road to St. Elmo

I saw a beaver, but I haven’t purchased a telephoto lens for my camera yet. I only got a so-so picture of it.

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A little further down, there is a trailhead where the Colorado Trail crosses Chalk Creek. I stop there and walk across the creek and a little ways on the trail.

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Chalk Creek

I come across this Abert’s Squirrel. These squirrels live primarily in ponderosa pine forests and are fairly common in Colorado. They are quite large; and here they are typically all black. I always get a kick out of seeing them.

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Abert’s Squirrel

As I headed back to Hwy 285, I took this photo of the smoke from the Weston Pass Fire, which is burning just over the ridge from Buena Vista.

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Smoke from Weston Pass Fire

There were no fireworks in any of the mountain towns this year due to the extreme fire danger. On July 4th, I did go to BV for a get together with my friends there.

On Thursday, July 5, Joyce, Dorty and I take a day trip to Crested Butte. It is a very nice drive over Monarch Pass (where we see some bighorn sheep along the road, but no picture) and along Hwy 50 to Gunnison. We planned to drive up Gothic Road to Schofield Pass and hike the trail there that has the best wildflowers I have ever seen. The road goes up one of the most beautiful valleys in Colorado.

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Beautiful valley along Gothic Road

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Too bad there is still deep snow on the road so we are unable to get to the trailhead. But the day turns rainy so we enjoy the scenic drive.

On Saturday, I join Joyce and Dorty and some of their friends from work on a day trip up to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. We rode the ski lift up to the restaurant for lunch. A lovely view to enjoy our meal.

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There was a group of mountain goats up near the top of the ridge which we could see through binoculars. But too far for pictures. They are so agile!

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It was starting to rain about the time we finished lunch, so we ride the lift back down.

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On Monday, July 9th, I have an appointment at Advance Automotive & Trailer Service to have the Nash axles and suspension lubed and serviced. I was very pleased with the work they did. They also lubed my trailer hitch and the stabilizer jacks. They operate much more easily now! If you are in the Salida area and need any service done, give them a call.

After the work is finished, I stop at the Salida Visitors Center to top off my fresh water tank and then back to the Salida WMA for a couple more days. This time I find a campsite open in the first meadow. The view here is much better, with mountains all around. But it isn’t as private.

The pointed peak second from the left is 14,229ft Mt. Shavano, the 17th highest peak in Colorado. Not visible behind it is 14,155ft Tabeguache Peak. These can both be climbed in a very long day 🙂 It is 11 miles round trip with 5,600ft of elevation gain. I did this hike on September 20, 2015 and these were the last two 14ers I have done. That’s almost three years ago!

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View of Mt. Shavano from Salida WMA campsite

Looking southwest towards the peaks I could see from my previous campsite.

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Recently a reader suggested that I create a slideshow of each post’s images so they could be viewed in a larger size on a separate tab. This is a functionality that is used by some who use Blogger software.  I have done some research on doing that in WordPress, but so far I haven’t figured out how to do it the same way as it works in Blogger. The WordPress slideshow tool creates a slideshow within the post and the images are small. I haven’t found a way to set it so one can click on it and see the slideshow in separate tab with larger images. I haven’t given up on it though.

I have wanted to get a bike for awhile. When I was in Denver, I found a good buy on Craigslist for a Thule T2 rack. Once I had the rack, I purchased a bike at REI. It is their brand, a Co-op DRT1.1. I have read some good reviews of it and it has a lot of features for the price. I have ridden it a couple times but I didn’t do so well at the high elevation 🙂 . I like it but need to get in shape! It will be nice to have this winter in Arizona.

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REI CO-OP DRT1.1 bike

And I ordered a nice cover to hopefully keep it from getting so dusty.

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On Wednesday, July 11, I leave for Westcliffe for the annual High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival! So excited, it’s always lots of fun and great music.

2 Comments on “Salida CO for 4th of July

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