Ted and I decided to take a leisurely vacation. Ted's from Colorado and is an avid mountain climber, biker, runner and ex Hummer owner. I've been 4 wheeling in Colorado since 1975 and have adopted it as my second home. The object of the trip was to cruise around Colorado, camp, see places and drive passes we've never been to and take lots of pictures. I needed new material for this website. Camping is great way to go because you don't have to be anywhere at a certain time. You can just go with the flow as circumstances and weather dictate.
We headed out from Denver on highway 285 and worked our way over Redcone near Webster pass. By that time it was raining so we came down through Montezuma into Keystone and headed to Leadville via highway 70 to Copper Mountain. We stayed in leadville for the night.
The next morning we headed out to Turquoise Lake right outside of Leadville. From there we drove over Hagerman Pass to Aspen via Basalt. We caught Castle Creek Road out of Aspen, drove to the end and worked our way over Pearl Pass. We camped for the night South of Pearl next to the Twin Lakes Trail head.
After a good nights sleep and a leisurely breakfast we took a hike on the Twin Lakes trail. We packed up and drove down to Crested Butte. We arrived in town around lunch time and went to the local grocery to replenish our food and water. We drove over to the quaint picturesque main street in Crested Butte, made a couple of sandwiches and started discussing where we'd go next.
Read the Schofield Pass Article:
After doing Schofield we ended up driving through Carbondale and stayed in Glenwood springs for the night. Next morning we headed West on 70 and cut across to 550 and went South and arrived in Ouray around noon. We drove up to Yankee boy basin when it started to pour. We headed back to 550 and drove farther South and got off on the road to California Gulch and Engineer pass. We checked out the Mineral Point minesite and mill area.
As we were driving out of Mineral point I saw a brand new bright white SUV with running boards loaded with people stopped but heading in the direction we just came from. I commented that they were going to wreck that new truck on the trail. All of a sudden an ATV with a passenger pulls up to us. It was drizzling out but I rolled down the window. The guy had a british accent and began to tell us that they were lost. The driver of the SUV came over and said that they were frantic, lost and had a car full of their kids. It turns out that they missed the turn to Cinnamon pass and Lake City about 8 miles earlier. I led them back to the main road to Silverton. Ted got out to find out where they had to be that night. They had to be in Denver for a flight back to NY at 2:00 am. and it was 6:00pm now.
We ended up driving back up overlooking Mineral point 12,000ft. and camped for the night in the rain.
The next morning was bright and sunny so we drove down past Animas Forks to Silverton where we had breakfast. We went back down to Howardsville and picked up the road to Stoney Pass down Cunningham Gulch. We turned off left and took a road to Buffalo Boy Mine. We explored the Buffalo Boy tram station which is pretty much in tact. While Ted went for a hike I met a local, Fred who was up there showing his son the area. Fred invited Ted and I over to see his cabin down by Howardsville. We went back to Silverton, stocked up on food and went to visit Fred. We were going to hike up to the Old Hundred Mine early the next morning. Fred decided to meet us and go on the hike. We found a great camping spot that nigh at the head of Cunningham Gulch at 11,000 ft.
We met Fred at the trail head around 6:30. We were a half hour late. I wasn't happy that we got up so early but Ted wanted to make sure we didn't get caught up high in the rain. It took us 2 1/2 hours to hike up to the mine including time to take a bunch of pictures hanging out on some old small gauge railroad tracks. We explored and took pictures for an hour and a half and got back down to the truck in 1 1/2 hours around 12:30. By 1:00 it was overcast and starting to rain. I was glad we left early. On the way down we turned off to check out another minesite the Gary Owen Mine, Sterling Gulch.
We went back down to Silverton and decided we would head over Stony pass and try to find Kite lake. We went back through Howardsville and picked up the road to Stony pass. This was pretty much a dirt and gravel road, nothing difficult. We drove through a bunch of cows wondering around all over the road and made a right on the road to kite lake. There was a shallow stream to ford at this point. It took us about an hour to get up to kite lake. Of course by then it was nasty blowing and raining again. We wanted to camp up by the lake but it was really blowing. We found a good camping spot a mile or two from the lake. It stopped raining so we made a nice dinner and chilled out.
We took it easy the next morning and headed East toward Creede. We took 149 North through Lake City to 50 East through Gunnison. A little East of Gunnison we turned North at Parlin and headed for Hancock Pass. From there we drove into Buena Vista for dinner. It was pouring out by then so we headed to Leadville for the night.
Next morning the weather was great so we decided to go out and see some mining sites around Leadville. We explored a relatively modern mine The Continental Chief Mine in the Iowa Amphitheater. From there we drove down a road where there was another active working mine call the Black Cloud mine. Across a lake sized settling pond was an old site that looked to be the original mine. I wanted to get some pictures but it was closed off on the Black Cloud property. I drove up another road that lead to the top of a hill. I turned around and decided to go up another trail leading straight off a curve. I ended up on a giant rock pile (1/2 sq mile) that had to be made by major earth moving equipment on the other side of the Black Cloud. I made my way over the rocks to the remains of a cabin and parked the Hummer. It just wasn't safe to go any further. It turns out I was now about 1 mile from the old mine site. I grabbed the camera and hiked down and shot a bunch of really neat pictures.
The final morning was cool and clear so we decided to head back to Denver via Mosquito pass. We went over in the morning and turned off to the right on the way down and explored the American Mine, near Alma, had lunch and headed back.