Friday, August 4, 2017

Into the Rockies from west of Fort Collins down to above Golden.

Sunday & Monday, July 2-3, 2017; Along the Front Range.

The next day I arose with the Sun (luckily the valley I was camped in ran east-west), and moved down back down the forest road to where I should have camped, had I spotted it last evening.  Here in a little pull out by the creek, I had breakfast and plotted my day.  I would head south on County Hwy 27 once I reached that road at Stove Prairie, from the Old Flowers Road I had camped on, meet up with US Hwy 34, and head west to Estes Park, the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, and from there continue my southward trend on State Hwy7. Somewhere off Hwy 7 I would find an early campsite for the night.

Where I should have camped; I breakfasted here.

The resident Squirrel.

Old Cabin on the Old Flowers Road …
it appears to be still in use as the porch light is on.

US Hwy 34 runs in Big Thompson Canyon through the Front Range to Estes Park.  I went through this Canyon the opposite direction, when I was 15, with my family.  I remember plotting to build something like that, for my model railroad in those days, but never managed it.  I lunched at Sleepy Hollow picnic area in the canyon.

This is the Big Thompson River
at the Sleepy Hollow picnic area.

After lunch a few miles further and I reached Estes Park, and immediately joined in a traffic jam … I mean if everyone is doing it, who am I to be the odd one out?!  This put paid to my tentative thought of continuing west into Rocky Mountain National Park itself.  One thing though … the view west over Estes Park, as you crest the pass upon leaving Big Thompson Canyon and begin to drop down into the town, is stupendous, with a cirque of mountains overlooking this mountain town.  This view we never noticed as a family since we were heading east, and if any of us saw it that would have been our Dad, but in the rear view mirror.  I, however, was travelling the opposite direction this time, and so saw what we missed way back when.  It would be a town in which to consider living, just for the view, save for the hordes of visitors in Summer, and I expect they get a few in Winter too.  In any event the traffic jam put paid to any photos I might have taken.  Finally I connected with State Hwy 7 and headed south, with much much less traffic.

Longs Peak is within Rocky Mountain National Park.

Just a few miles down Hwy 7, at Meeker Park, I turned left onto Old Cabin Creek Road, and followed it into the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest and set up an early camp.  Here there were flowers … and the odd mosquito.

Sorry about the flowers ...
I take their photos in hope that I will find out
what they are at some point in the future.

Two neighboring campsites several sites away were occupied that night and were empty early in the morning, and as I had some paperwork to do I didn’t leave until mid-afternoon.  New neighbors appeared in late morning, a Mexican family grouping who took up residence over three sites.  Once their three ATVs were off exploring the forest roads, the remaining residents were generally quiet, lazing about and quietly conversing, preparing their picnic, except for the small dog that would periodically notice I was down the road, and come yap at me … not really a problem.  When I was ready to leave I bid them good day and headed out.  Within two hundred yards I had to stop and take this photograph.

I believe this is Mt. Meeker,
part of the Longs Peak Massif shown earlier.
Stopping in Allenspark, just three miles down Hwy 7, to post my paperwork, I discovered a village spring and filled my empty water bottles.  A few miles along Hwy 7 veered eats and I turned south onto State Hwy 72, to continue my southward journey.  About a mile along I stopped for photos of the valley, back towards the north; I believe this is the Middle St. Vrain Valley.  The rock with the natural Bonsai on top is at the pullout, and the photo up the valley was taken just beyond it.

Middle St. Vrain Valley, I believe.

Natural Bonsai.

Somewhere, perhaps ten miles further south, past the town of Ward I believe, there is a pullout and the view opens up; I think Glacier Lake is nearby to the east, but out of sight.  A shower of rain passed over while I was drinking in the view, although cannot tell that from this photo.

Shortly before Nederland, there is Mud Lake Open Space and Caribou Ranch Open Space.  The latter has the longer walks and so saved for another time, but part of Mud Lake was do-able, with the time I had available.
Mud Lake Open Space.
Many more flower photos were taken here,
but they were in the deep shade,
so may only be useful as reference photos.

Forty five minutes after leaving Mud Lake Open Space, ten miles into the mountains above Golden, Colorado, I pulled into the driveway of an old friend of mine, Martin, who I met on the Mallaig ferry to the Isle of Skye, Scotland, all those years ago at the end of my first Summer in Britain.  He is British, but has been in the USA longer than I lived in England … and that was a very long time indeed.  So for the month of July I have bounced between house sitting for Martin, while he was on a very full visit to Britain, and visiting my friends Dan & Lee in Salida.

Note: You will have noticed I have changed the font for my postings, since there has been some bitching and moaning concerning difficulty in reading fonts with serifs on a screen. ;D

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