Tag Archives: Gunnison Colorado

Gunnison Adventure ~Part 3

9 Sep

A Few Things

Patricia Franklin

The most memorable Gunnison trip we took was one into the high mountains via Steers Gulch Road. My husband rode horseback up here as a child with his Uncle on a fishing trip. He had not been up here since, and neither of the guys knew the road or the way there and down the other side into Antelope. The road was not well traveled, but they figured it would get better as we drove up on this round trip down memory lane. We drove for two hours uphill and were still climbing. We had forest service maps with us, but these maps did not show the roads that these guys travel, so we were not too sure where we were going to end up. Finally we came to a deep valley with an old road leading down to a cabin, which my husband remembered as “April’s Cabin.” So we knew we were on the right track, even though there were old logging roads or hunting roads leading off in other directions.

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As we drove on up, we saw field after field of flowers and more varieties of mountain flowers than I have ever seen, and we had to get out many times and get close up pictures along the way. Several were very rare and only bloom for a short time when conditions are perfect. We ran across many we did not recognize.

After enduring this rough “road” for many miles, we finally came to the top of the mountain and were able to look over into the next range of mountains, the Baldy Mountain Range, which is visible on the horizon from Gunnison.

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This is where my husband and his uncle rode horseback down the side of the mountain to Beaver Creek, where they caught a “pillow case” full of trout to take home. Of course, that is not legal any more, but I don’t know of anyone who would make this trip just to fish anyway. This was a beautiful area with a big old stump at the top of the meadow with Columbines growing all around it. This made a wonderful picture, with the Baldies in the background.

 

We then started down the other side of the mountain and headed for home. It was not supposed to rain that day, but the clouds were building up and we did not want to get caught up there in a rain storm. We had a couple of choices of roads to take, and we figured out later we took the road that was not a road, and I’m sure had not been traveled or maintained forever. We ended up going down over huge rocks and just hanging on till we got to the bottom of a ravine. At the last bump going down, our brand new off-road tires got scrunched by the rocks and we blew a tire — 20 miles out in the wilderness on a non-used road, and no cell phone service. So the guys got out to change the tire, and of course it started to rain. 20 miles out in this country could have been 100 because of the rough up and down terrain, the rocks, gullies and then clay-like mud and swampy areas. Well, they got the tire changed and we started up the hill on the other side of the ravine, not knowing for sure where we were going or if we would end up at a dead end. The guys kept saying the road should get better, as they were sure this was the Antelope Road, but in fact, it got worse and we were bumping over rocks, then sliding down the clay-like muddy road that just kept going up and down, through the trees and gullies. It was a very long, tedious ride for many miles, as everyone got quiet, the road got worse and rain kept coming down.

Finally, we topped a hill and they saw the city of Gunnison in a valley many miles away. The “road” we were on looked like it would continue on, so in spite of the conditions, we were relieved, even though we knew if we slid off or lost another tire, we would be walking this road for many hours in the dark, without proper clothing or lighting. We finally came to civilization again as we spotted a ranch house about 1/2 mile away. After that, we felt like we could breathe again, and finally came upon a main road that took us home.

You would think that someone of our age and experience would know getter than to get into a situation like that, but after all, we were just out for a “little Sunday drive.” That was our big adventure for this year. I would not do it again, but we did get some beautiful pictures and saw flowers that we will never see again. And I got closer to the Lord as I did a lot of praying

The original family homestead with new construction.

The original family homestead with new construction.

 

Slide show of the flowers we saw.

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Gunnison Adventure~Part 2

26 Aug

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

One of the most beautiful trips we took, and one I always anticipate, was up to Paradise Divide above Crested Butte at about 11,500 feet. This is one of our favorite places to go, and we hid a geocache up here years ago, which is still there. We get many great comments about the Paradise area on our geocaching site.

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There are several rare flowers on this trip and some of them only bloom for a very short time, if conditions are right. For instance we saw Glacier Lilies that only grow near the snow banks for a short time after the snow melts;

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Moss Campion (moss in bloom, with the sweetest smelling little pink flowers you have ever seen); Monument Plants which only bloom once, then are dormant for 20 – 60 years, then will bloom again. Rosy Paint Brush with its different shades of bright pink to pale pink, grows at this altitude. We saw a multitude of Lemon Paint Brush and the bright red Indian Paint Brush, too. Then there is the fluffy little Bistort that is soft and pleasing to the eye, but smells like dirty socks. These are just a few of my favorite flowers. There is a wonderful waterfall on the road up that cascades down 1000 feet this time of year, and a beautiful pristine Mirror Lake at the top. Also at the top, a large red mountain above timberline dominates the scene. You never see a lot of people up here.

Going down the other side, a few miles down you see many more people, as it is a popular area. You pass the Biology Research Center located in beautiful Gothic. They established research plots in this area years ago to study the gorgeous flora here. It looks like they are expanding their research, as they are building a huge new building up here. Also as you come down this side, you pass Emerald Lake, which is very deep and is the color of emeralds. This is a favorite fishing, hiking and biking area, with many bicycle trails in use here in the summer. One popular trail passes the famous Maroon Bells and leads you into Aspen on the other side of the mountain to the east.

We saw a lot of wildlife during our stay in the area this year, including several deer, a couple of herds of elk (mamas and babies),a family of raccoons climbing a tree to spend the night, and 3 deer being stalked by a coyote.

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We were parked by the road watching the deer right above us. They were not spooked by us, but kept looking over our heads into the meadow below. So we looked down there and saw the coyote. He was watching them and looked like he was going to try to go around and maybe get behind them. However, we don’t think he would attack on his own. We also had our own little resident doe that stays close to our condo

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