Sunday, July 14, 2013

Driving to Dillon

After nearly a week it was time to say goodbye to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Rocky Mountain National Park is an amazing place and I could spend a while month here hiking and exploring, but there’s more Colorado to see so we are off!

We were heading to Dillon and there were 2 route options – back to Boulder and down to I-70 or over Trail Ridge Road.  I wanted to drive over Trail Ridge Road and get one last glimpse of the park and drive over the Continental Divide.  Dad decided that it wasn’t a good idea for his coach – too much could go wrong with engine overheating or brakes overheating etc.  He decided to take the “low” road and take I-70.  I went over Trail Ridge Road! 

I wasn’t going to stop much on the trip over since we’d already seen the road, but when I came to Many Parks Curve there was a Pleasure-Way in the parking lot and I suspected that it was a gal who I’d “met” on the Pleasure-Way Facebook page ad I slowed down and someone in the parking lot was waving at me…I figured that was my new Facebook friend so I pulled in and found a place to park.  Sure enough it was who I thought it was and I met her, he husband and their beagle!  We chatted a bit and then walked down Many Parks Curve together a bit!  I took a few pictures but couldn’t really see what I thought I would be able to so said goodbye to my new friend and headed back to the RV. 

The rest of the drive was just spectacular.  It was like flying in places! The sun was shinning and the clouds were building, but it was beautiful!  I could see so much more out the windshield than I could out of the Jeep!  I didn’t stop again just kept driving over the mountain!  Roxy did just fine she had no trouble with the elevation or the long descent! 

I’d decided I was going to stop and hike a bit and decided on a short 2 mile loop from the Green Mountain Trailhead that went along the Colorado River and had views of the valley.  On the map the trail was marked as being the Continental Divide Trail, but no where on the trail or at the trailhead did I get any indication that I was on the CDT! I got to the trailhead at around 11 and got my stuff together and headed out.  It was sunny and nice, but the clouds were building!

P1140080P1140086P1140093The walk along the rive was very nice! The valley and the marsh were totally different from anything else I’d hiked so far! Rocky Mountain is so varied! 

I was almost to the trail junction where I’d take the Valley Trail back to the car when the thunder started.  Loud & close & echoing in the valley! I was under tree cover, although it was thin thanks to the beetles killing off all the trees, and I wasn’t the highest thing around so I didn’t worry too much.  I did debate turning around and going back the way I came rather than continuing the loop, but I was pretty sure I was about at the halfway point.  I picked up the pace a little and quickly got to the trail junction and headed back toward the car.  The thunder was getting louder and closer.  I came to a spot where there were no trees and decided I needed to run across it, walking was just too slow!  Back in the woods I felt a bit safer and continued walking.   It did start raining and even though I was less than a 1/2 a mile from the car I stopped to put my rain gear on – luckily I had my small hydration pack and could get my raincoat on without taking it off.  Of course as soon as I put my rain jacket it on, the rain slowed and almost stopped.  It seemed like the storm was letting up and maybe even passing by.

Then, when I was about .1-.2 of a mile from the van and was coming to a large clearing when suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere a *huge* bolt of lighting streaked streaked across the sky.  It was crazy bright and seemed to be right in my face.  I froze in my tracks.  It took a good 30 seconds for the thunder to come and it was some serious thunder.  It rumbled and crashed and rolled and echoed right over my head for what seemed like a minute or more. 

I knew I was close to the car so broke into a run and got back to where the trail came close to road and decided to walk the road since it was so close and I could see the van!  As I was coming up on the road I saw my new friends in their Pleasure-Way heading toward Grand Lake! 

Between fast walking and running a bit I made it back to the van without anymore lighting or thunder, although the rain was really coming down! 

The great thing about driving an RV is now that I was back to my vehicle, I was also home!  So I took my time getting ready to leave – changed my shoes, got a snack, watched the storm, it was rather nice! 

I’d left the van a little after 11 to walk a 2 mile loop hike.  It was sunny and nice when I left.  I returned at 12:30 in the heart of a crazy thunderstorm!  That’s how fast the weather can change in the mountains! 

Eventually I decided to head down the road toward Dillon!  I stopped to checkout a NFS Campground on edge of Shadow Mountain Lake (I think), it was a great campground although it was on a little knoll and kinda looked like the perfect spot for lighting to strike (the storms were looking uglier down here and there was lots of lighting all around).   When I pulled out of the campground I saw my Pleasure-Way friends two cars back!  They ended up going the same way I was going out 40 so they followed me and we had our own little caravan!  We traveled together until Kremmling when I turned south on Colorado 9 to head to Silverthorne.

This entire drive was more scenic than the Peak to Peak Highway!  Colorado is an amazing state.  The mountains are just huge and there are big valleys and lakes everywhere! 

At some point today the “add DEF” light came on.  DEF is a diesel thing and I needed to stop at Wal-Mart and get some.  I discovered that there was a Wal-Mart in Frisco and headed over there.  A quick stop for 5 gallons of DEF and I was on my way to Prospector’s Campground – a NFS campground that Mom and Dad had discovered a few years ago and had noted as a great place. 

Turns out Prospectors isn’t quite the great place they thought it was, it’s fine, but the other NFS campgrounds in the area, and there are about 6, all have features about them that are a bit nicer.  The view is great at our sites, but it’s dry camping and my fridge isn’t cooperating and there’s no water in the campground (I have a full tank of water on board but I usually get drinking water from the spicket so I don’t drain the tank super fast.)

There’s a lot to do here in Dillon, lots of biking and hiking and kayaking opportunities!  One thing I’m excited about is the ski resorts in the area all offer mountain biking – they let you ride up on the lift and ride down!  And you can keep going all day! Riding downhill!  This seems like pure genius to me! I’ve never been mountain biking but I really want to try it!

To see more pictures from the hike please see my album on Google +, Colorado River Walk

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