Aspen Glow

Trip Start Feb 24, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
my van at Holiday Inn

Flag of United States  , Colorado
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I got up and 7:45 pretty much left right away for the Beaver Meadows  Visitor Center. I could finally see some of Estes Park in the daylight. It was still waking up but it's a cool town right next to an amzing national park. That doesn't always happen. I took a wrong turn and saw a huge elk with antlers a few feet away in someone's yard. Then I got back to the visitor center just after 8:00. I caught up online and then spent 15 minutes and two trips filling up my four big water containers. A woman accused me of being a heavy drinker, and so early in the morning! Ha ha. I finished up online and left at 9:00. I drove back through Estes Park and then got on 34 which would take me over the mountain and out the west side of the park. I stopped at the Fall River Visitor Center, which was much nicer. The upstairs exhibits were about wildlife in the park with mammal audio tracks. Downstairs was more about the history and had a a 3D map. I spent almost half an hour and the fixed a Tangerine Emer'gen-C.

I presented my pass at the Fall River Entrance Station at 10:00. I stopped at Sheep Lakes and read signs about elk and bighorn sheep in the meadow. I stopped at another breathtaking overlook an met an older couple from Portland! Finally! Then came the junction with 36 and the switchbacks up the mountains. I stopped at a few pullouts. I saw the views at Many Parks Curve. It was a gorgeous day. I think I visited and one of the best times. The sun and clouds played hide and the temperature was in the 50s and 60s. At 10:45, I stopped at Rainbow Curve on another tight bend in the road. I washed the two pans from yesterday and then did some writing. The views were amazing. Soon I started getting into the Alpine Tundra. I walked a short path to Forest Canyon overlook. Then there was a short wait for roadwork and I stopped at Tundra Communities Trailhead at 11:45. and decided to cook half of my remaining box of pasta with tomato sauce and put some in my thermos. I went through several matches before the stove lit and the the stove soon went out. It must be the elevation. I did some writing and then left just after 12:00. I went over Iceberg Pass and then got out at Lava Cliffs. I saw a little lake and a few old patches of dirty snow. Soon after, I went over the highest point on the road, at 12,183 feet! At the Gore Range viewpoint I saw a couple more small lakes and rain in the distance to the west. I took a picture for a couple on a motorcycle. I parked at the Alpine Visitor Center at 12:30, wrote and spent several minutes inside reading about the tundra wildlife.

I left just before 1:00 descended into trees again. It was very cool to stop at Milner Pass on the Continental Divide 10 minutes later at 10,758 feet. Lake Irene a few minutes later, was a place with picnic tables to fire up my stove. The pasta had been soaking which sped it up a little but it still took awhile. I read 11 more pages of Gregg Braden's book while I cooked and then ate in my car but it was getting chilly out. I also did some GPS research for where I could spend the night. Then I washed the pan, put everything away and wrote. I got rid of some garbage. As I ran down to the lake and back in five minutes it started to sprinkle but it didn't really keep it up. I stopped at Fairview Curve and then began some fun downhill switchbacks. I pretty much skipped the rest of the stops on the west side. It was pretty chilly and cloudy and I was tired. There was some more roadwork. I paused at one or two pullouts. I did stop at at a gorgeous part of the river and saw a man fishing at 3:00 and the sun came out for a few minutes. I got out at Kawuneeche Visitor Center at 3:15 and filled up one of my water containers again. I read a few exhibits and then asked for the 24-minute park film. It had a lot of park footage and talked about the land, people, wildlife and history.

I left at 4:00 and felt kind of sad to leave the park but I soon realized I was not leaving the gorgeous country that is north central Colorado. I drove into the town of Grand Lake for a bit and then passed Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby. The aspens continued. Aspens are now my main image of Colorado. I went through Hot Sulphur Springs, Parshall and Kremmling. The first and last were quite nice and I wished I could have checked them out. I was driving along a river line with aspens and surrounded by hills and mountains. I ju st didn't have an image of this part of the world before now. At Kremmling, 40 turned north and there were slightly fewer treels and more golden rolling hills. Then I was going up and over another mountain range in the Routt National Forest and I was in the trees again. It was so beautiful, with the colors, the mountain lakes, the clouds...

Coming down steeply from the mountain, the views of the valley below were stunning and the town of Steamboat Springs greeted me. I really like that town as well. It would be a cool place to live. I decided I needed a break so I stopped at Starbucks at 5:45 to freshen up and check messages. I left at 6:30, after the sun had gone down but in time to drive into the sunset. I passed the old part of tow on the way out but I was just in an anti social but lonely mood. I wanted to get to Holiday Inn in Craig before it was too dark. It was pretty dark by the time I got there at 7:30 but it was just off 40. As soon as I turned the engine off, my friend Susie called. I was soon ensconced in back though and I finished writing at 8:45. The internet was in and out unfortunately though. I had been watching pieces here and there the movie Proof of Life so I continued that some.
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