Georgia Pass 2017

I took the dogs hiking in Georgia Pass today.  The pass is about ninety minutes west of Denver on US 285.  We have hiked the area before but it is close enough to home to be an easy drive, especially with good weather.

Our target today was a ridge opposite Mt. Guyot that I have been unable to ascend in the past — a sprained ankle and impending thunderstorm prevented climbing it in the past.

At the top of the ridge we were at about 12,400 feet elevation.  Sadly the wildfires in the Pacific northwest were sending a large amount of smoke our direction which prevented the glorious views we would normally see.

I didn’t intend to hike more than five miles but once back at the truck my GPS app registered 7.6 miles.  Surprisingly both dogs handled the distance well, at least until Sunday morning when Lucy was sore and unable to walk more than a couple blocks.  She recovered by Monday, though.

 

Unfortunately on the drive back down the hill from the pass I hit a sharp rock on the gravel road and ended up with a flat tire.  The flat was complicated by the fact that Discount Tire decided to over-torque the lug nuts to the point where I literally twisted my lug wrench ninety degrees.  I was worried I would snap the top of it off and not have a means of tightening the lugs on the spare.

Needless to say on Monday morning I had a conversation with the guys at the tire shop about not torquing the lug so tightly.  I also picked up a heavy-duty lug wrench at AutoZone… hopefully I won’t have to test it out any time soon.

Break time
Break time

Colorado Trail marker shield
Colorado Trail marker shield
The ridge that we climbed
Near the top of the ridge
The view to the east
The view to the east
The last remaining snow
Mt. Guyot
Mt. Guyot
Exactly what you want to see after hiking for hours

Sweetwater River Ranch

My friends Joanie and Dave recently purchased a campground in southern Colorado between Ca ñon City and Salida, the Sweetwater River Ranch. I had not been down for a visit yet so the Independence Day weekend seemed like a great time. Luckily, Dave was able to find a tent spot for me and the dogs across the river (the Arkansas river).
I wouldn’t normally stay at a campground when I can camp in a spot away from other people so this was a bit of a change for me: no climbing out of the tent at 3 am to have a pee, at least not close to the tent. I also couldn’t just open the tent flaps and let the dogs roam at 4:30 am — but that was not an issue as they were so tired from swimming in the river.

The tent spots across the river are accessed by a 100-yard suspension bridge. Once you have crossed a few times you’ve learned how to walk to prevent the bridge swaying from side-to-side. Lucy had no issues with the bridge but Fabi was hesitant to come back across the bridge to the office buildings so she swam instead. Multiple times, in a swift current of high melt-off water.

We visited some other friends that live in the area and hiked a bit but the majority of the weekend was spent next to the river, or in the river diving for rocks in Fabi’s case.

Partial Bay View

I attended a technical conference in Miami this week. It may have as well been held in Alaska because we were indoors in the air conditioning all day long. I did take a few walks along the bay early in the morning, though.

I am not a fan of Miami, by the way. The city itself is too superficial — everyone worries about what statement their clothes and car make, contributing to a spiraling competition to the top. I overheard some stock-broker types in the hotel bar one-upping each other regarding where they lived in the city and to which gym they belonged. They were starting to get very upset with each other and it may have come to blows — I don’t know because I went back to my room. I do know they were very disrespectful to the bartendress who is not a native english speaker and didn’t get their slurred jokes. If I had been her I believe I would have spit in their $20 martinis.

I’m very happy to be back in Colorado with my dogs and actual craft beer choices other than Sam Adams.

Labor Day Weekend 2013

For Labor Day this year the dogs and I travelled to the southwest part of Colorado and stayed in a small cabin in South Fork. On the way down I let the girls play in the Arkansas River near Salida. It was not too hot at that point and the Arkansas was not flowing too fast, although Fabi did have to swim vigorously a few times to avoid being swept downstream.
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On the way to South Fork we passed a sign for Bonanza, Colorado. I thought this was a ghost town and turned down the road. About 20 miles in I realized it was an actual town and there did not appear to be much hiking available so I turned back toward the highway. I did stop along the way back on a road to a pass but it was not designed for my truck, possibly small ATVs only. The dogs ran around here for a while.

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The next stop was Del Norte and the Rio Grande. Recently some donors have built a small but very nice river walk and deck on the river. There’s a nice paved sidewalk back through the trees with lots of access points to the water. After about an hour in the river I loaded up the girls and headed over to South Fork about 17 miles west.

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After driving through an impressive rain storm we found the lodge where our cabin was located but it was only about 2 PM. To kill some time before check-in I drove up US 160 to Wolf Creek Pass and we hiked around at the summit of the pass. There was a nice open field that led to a stand of trees. There was a creek, too, in which the girls played before running through the woods. Lucy managed to find some sort of black stickers to embed in her fur.

We hiked around for another hour or so then headed back to the cabin.

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We hung out in the cabin for another hour or so before heading to dinner over in Del Norte. I headed to Three Barrel Brewing for dinner and a couple beers. Their beers are very tasty! They also have a wood-fired pizza oven in which they produce some damn fine grub. Since it was a holiday weekend and a Saturday night the joint was busy with locals and tourists enjoying dinner and some brews. I was lucky I arrived when I did and found a spot at the bar. A few minutes later and I would have needed to stand! The girls had to stay in the back of the truck while I ate and drank as the patio at Three Barrel is accessed by walking through the taproom and brewery. I suspect they did not mind too much, though, as the temperature was in the low 70s and it was dark.

Three Barrel Brewing, Del Norte

Later that night I was sitting on the sofa in the cabin and heard what sounded like fireworks outside. Apparently the town of South Fork had postponed their July 4th fireworks until Labor Day weekend due to the big wildfire that caused the evacuation of the town for a couple weeks. I walked outside and watched the show about a half-mile behind the cabin. The dogs ran around in the adjacent field in the dark. Soon after we all crashed hard.

The next morning we were up fairly early and headed towards Creede. There was a hot-air balloon festival there and we arrived about the time the balloons were lifting off… unfortunately I did not have a chance to get a good photo of liftoff. I drove around Creede a bit but Main Street was blocked off for a soap box derby race later in the day and parking in town was already hard to find. Since it was only 8 AM I decided to drive on up the road towards Lake City to look for a spot to hike.

A few miles north of Creede I found a good spot to stop: North Clear Creek Falls. I had never heard of these falls but there was a clearly-marked sign on the highway and a wonderful parking area provided by the National Forest Service. There were no other visitors and I let the dogs run wild. I took a few photos of the falls from the observation area… the falls drop about 100 feet and were gorgeous. At first I thought there was no access to the upper creek from the observation area but the dogs found a route around the fences and were very near the water and the sheer drop-off before I noticed. I called them back and they obliged.

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We hiked up the hill towards the other end of the canyon carved by North Clear Creek and took in the views.

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After the falls I drove up the highway a little further and turned on a forest service road to Continental and Rito Hondo Reservoirs. The drive to Continental was not too bad but when we arrived I discovered it was inside of a fence with dozens of cattle and there was not easy access to the water — it was a very steep hill down to the shore about 300 feet below. I really did not want Lucy to drive the cattle down the hill or into the fence so we did not stop here.

I turned back and stopped at Rito Hondo reservoir which is a State Wildlife area. Technically, the dogs were not supposed to be running and swimming here but they managed not to damage any wildlife other than scaring up a few ducks.

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I finally convinced the dogs to load up again after playing in the water and we drove back south through Creede again and noticed there was even less parking available than earlier. I decided to head back to South Fork and through Wolf Creek Pass again on to Pagosa Springs. On the west side of Pagosa we turned north about 20 miles and then east for almost ten miles to the Piedra River. Yes, this trip became a “tour of rivers.” We parked at the end of a road where we picked up a trail to Piedra Falls. It’s a nice hike along the river and finally a small area at the base of the falls. Being a holiday weekend there were a lot of people there, mostly ignorant Texans, so the base area was pretty crowded. We did not stay too long to avoid the dogs getting trampled by people who were not used to the altitude and hiking.

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And Lucy found some crap to roll in! I convinced her to lay in the river before we took off but she still smelled.

As always, Lucy found some poop to roll in

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I drove back through Pagosa Springs and had planned to stop at Pagosa Brewing Company but the temps were still in the high 80s and I did not want to leave the girls in the back of the truck so I headed on down to South Fork and the cabin. I changed into a clean shirt and the dogs passed out on the floor.

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I drove back to Del Norte again for dinner and had a few more beers at Three Barrel. They were not as crowded this night and I had a lovely evening drinking a few Colorado Belgian style ales.

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On Monday morning we checked out of the cabin and headed back towards Denver. The girls were both tuckered out and had to be coerced back into the truck… so there was little chance of hiking at this point. I did drive back up to Wolf Creek Pass and stopped at an observation area on the top of the pass where the girls ran a bit but were not much into it.

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After a few photos we hit the road. We ran into inbound traffic just south of Fairplay and slogged along at less than 10 MPH for the next three hours before making it home.

In summary it was a great weekend. I would love tho go back in September or October to see what the area is like without the hordes of Texans everywhere.

The Rescheduled Craft Lager Festival

The Craft Lager Festival was scheduled for last Saturday (10 August) but was postponed after a flash flood and mudslide destroyed the event equipment. The rescheduled event was held today in Colorado Springs at the Norris-Penrose Events Center instead of Memorial Park in Manitou Springs. As expected, many of the vendors, especially those from out-of-state, were not able to attend the rescheduled event today. There were not many of the local Colorado Springs breweries in attendance, either. Since I was alone today I had to wrangle the dogs, navigate the crowd AND taste the beverages. Because I was wrangling and drinking I didn’t have many chances for photos. I have included a few here though.

It was hot in Colorado Springs today. Even waiting in line to enter the event the dogs were panting.
In line for the Craft Lager Festival

After one circuit through all of the vendors I sat down in some shade with the girls and poured a bowl of water for them.

Taking a break

Note the wonderful winged skull tattoo on somebody’s calf in the background. No one ever said Colorado Springs was classy.
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The volunteers pouring beers were a bit overwhelmed and many of the booths opened a few minutes late for various reasons, and some of those pouring (whether volunteers or staff from the breweries) were not really into the event. Kudos to Lost Rhino Brewing from Virginia, though! They were friendly and appeared to be happy to share their beer.

I will say my favorite beer today was Crooked Stave’s Surrette.

The swag haul was pretty meager this year, too.
Today's swag

The dogs and I had a good time and many young ladies stopped to pet Lucy while they asked how she lost her leg… so there’s that, I guess.