Yes, it's a long name for a long day. With a new tire I had an itch to explore!
We woke up and headed out pretty early. It was blueberry muffins, bananas and hard boiled eggs for breakfast. Quick, but delicious!
We were just a few short miles from pavement and then into Lake City. Lake City was crowded, but the holiday weekend was coming so it was expected after all. I spoke to a friend tonight about Lake City. It's almost painfully quaint. It leaves me feeling it might all be fake. I have to say that the views and beauty of the surroundings aren't fake. They are the real deal.
Even the people, not just the ones waiting to sell or serve you, seem happy. We watched as a mom road her old cruiser bicycle towards the local school with her little son sitting on the rear fender with his legs dangling in the air and back pack on. They looked painfully happy.
In summary, I think I like these towns, but there is a catch. The catch I would guess comes in the form of working tirelessly during the few snow free summer months trying to make enough money off the tourists to last the slow winter months. That doesn't sound too bad, but it also seems frustrating that their best weather months are filled with work.
Ultimately, I guess the best goal is to move to town like this with plenty of money so enjoyment becomes your first priority.
Not a bad grocery getter here in Lake City!
As we fed the 4runner I looked up to see the dirt bike riders from the day before parked across the street getting themselves fueled up.
I do love these old signs!!
I always notice something new on Engineer pass. From this angle this section of the aqueduct looks like a walking thing from Star Wars. My friend Heidi is laughing that I don't know what the name of it is, but tell me I'm wrong!
Yah, well, that's what I saw at this early morning hour.
I would love to use this outhouse. I think it would be both terrifying and fun.
This damn always boggles my mind. This giant wall would hold the water of the river back until it rose to the point of the pipe. Then it would run down a long tube that was hanging on a lattice work of wood into the town/mine. It's sort of a short distance aqueduct.
These sections of thick aspens are so striking. We took a small side trail that we've never explored. I'm glad we did.
We also saw this old chimney still standing along the side of the road.
Once back on Engineer Pass road we came across the giant brick Kiln used for making coke. Not that kind of coke. Coke is what coal cooks down to. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coke_(fuel)
Obligatory picture of water. In Arizona it's just "that" rare.
I can only imagine how many times someone used this spot for the land owners to feel like putting up a sign. I didn't feel any urge to relieve myself there, but I guess some people do.
This is what comes to mind every time someone mentions a cabin. Since we first spotted it on our first Colorado trip it burned into our memory. The bridge is such a great expense, but it looks like such a cool way to come home! There is a road up to it on the other side of the river, but the bridge is so much more fun.
Notice the Marmot on the bridge. I could tell he was a rare breed of Guard Marmot.
Ah, the vistas!
Not far over Engineer Pass we saw what looked like a horse tied up. As we got closer the giant ears told me it was a mule. I was perplexed why a mule would be hanging out on the top of a mountain with no one in sight.
Once I walked over the mule was tied to a metal stake in the ground. Not one that had been placed there recently. It was a permanent sort of metal ring sunk into the rock. It seemed ever more strange now. Why ride a mule up to the top of a mountain. Then what would you tie it up to go and do? Maybe he is an elusive marmot hunter.
We made it over to Animas Forks.
Lean to the left.
Lunch is ready!!
Stairway to... hell?
I have a lot of favorite cabins. This one is another up on top of a pass. With a nice grocery getter too!
I can picture the ore buckets flying along from tower to tower as they go down the mountain.
The minerals tint the rocks all sorts of different colors. This white one was pretty striking.
This precariously perched boiler is quite a site. It is sitting exactly how we first saw it 5 years ago. I'm sure it's sat there for a lot longer than 5 years so hopefully it will be there next time.
Yet another pass.
Just before reaching this pass we had come along a couple of guys in UTV's cruising along very slowly. I hate to honk the horn and ruin the peaceful feeling, but after following these guys for a mile I was getting tired of going 4MPH. Finally they pulled over a bit, but I could tell by how they pulled over that it wasn't to let me pass. One guy got out to relieve himself and almost fell over when he saw my truck sitting about 15 feet behind him. Whoops!
I waved and was able to squeeze by. As we stood on the top of California Pass I saw them and a few other quads coming along. I knew we had to get going before we were stuck behind them again!! Run for it!
Looking down at Poughkeepsie gulch!
Heading into the gulch.
Uh oh! I was just glad that it wasn't raining. The last time we did this trail it was raining and the 4runner was almost completely stock. On a mountain top to our left was a group of hikers watching us descend the gulch. Now would be a bad time to make a mistake. I always hate an audience.
The toughest section of the trail. The sign says "Winch Point."
She's just planning her attack...
Once we got to the bottom of the gulch we headed into Ouray. I got a call from my buddy T and he had just rolled into town for some hiking, wheeling and exploring over the holiday weekend. We met up with him at Mouse's Chocolate. I'm pretty sure if we lived in Ouray I'd be broke and D would keep Mouse's in business all on her own!
After a quick meeting with an old friend we headed back up the mountain to go and do Cinnamon Pass!
Thank goodness for self timers or we'd never have any pictures of us!
At this point we were already on a side trail from Cinnamon Pass. The road to Carson City is rough, but nothing too bad. No car could make it up the road in it's current state, but a high clearance truck should do fine if it's dry. Once we drove past Carson City, which is the turn around spot for most traffic, the road got smaller and more rough. We had Heart Lake in our sites.
Once we were at the top of the pass the sun was getting low. It had been a long day! We headed down the marked trail toward Heart Lake. This section of trail runs right along the spine of this mountain. It's pretty neat because at this point you are on both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide.
This one is the Continental Divide sign.
The Colorado Trail sign.
Way up here in the middle of no where we come upon this...
I hate it when this happens.
So, along the Colorado/Continental Trail we went. Up, up and up to well over 13,000 feet. We were hoping to be finding a camp very soon and we were just climbing more. We should have caught a glimpse of Heart Lake by now, but all we could see is further mountain to climb.
Finally we were at the top. This road turned into a field of sharp rocks for as far as I could see. After one flat on this trip, I really didn't want another one.
I was possessed, rock field or not I wanted to see Heart Lake!
Finally as the sun sank low in the sky we caught partial sight of a lake. That was enough to keep me going over this desert high mountain road.
The colors of the sunset were absolutely amazing. As we went down a steep dirt hill it was almost enough to take my mind off the fact that if it rained we had no chance of getting back up this deep soil hill.
It's steeper than it looks.
As we came over this hill there it was. Our first sight of Heart Lake! What a long day coming it was.
That was worth stopping for a second to enjoy just a moment of celebration!
The sky was on fire. Clearly it was giving us the celebration we needed.
We found a great site right next to the lake, got a warm fire going, and made some hot dinner. That was an epic day.