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Foruth of July (2009) road trip


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Today was a road trip day. We live about 20 miles from Rocky Mountain Park and my favorite drive is up the old Fall River Road. It is a dirt road that is cleared and graded once after the snow melts and not touched again - you get what it is later in the season - and the July 4th time is a good time. It's still pretty smooth and drivable. After the rains it starts to get rutty and rough. It's also a very switch-backy road so my truck (which we took last year) had to be backed up and turned on a couple of them. I like the Fall River so decided we weren't going to take the Mustang or the Cobra, and decided on my wife's Jeep.


On the way to the park traffic was backed up. I thought, "Oh Cr**, it's backed up to get in to the park". Nope. There was a herd of elk crossing. They would cross, then some more would cross, and look and then more would go. It took us almost 20 minutes. Then at the end there were two little ones and a mom left. I don't normally take pictures of elk since I've pretty much documented the species -- there are just so many around we don't pay too much attention any more, kind of like rabbits but this one was so cute. Note the spots.






The way up the road has some awesome views of the mountains. This is a normal avalanche chute that turns into s stream in the summer. Note, no trees. That's a clue of an avalanche chute. Pay close attention to the dead tree in the lower right. More later.




The road goes up through some still active snow fields. At one point (I didn't take a picture) there were some guys with skis getting ready to hike up to ski down. They have to cross a fairly major stream (and stay dry!) before going up a 3000' (?) vertical climb to the top of the field. Then hike back. A couple of years ago on the same drive we saw a chopper dropping some people off at the top.





At one of the switchbacks we get a look down the valley back to Estes Park.




So we are driving up the road and boom. Critter in the road. Gotta stop. I took some pictures but he just kept nibbling on whatever it was in the road he was eating. We were the only ones on the road and waited for about 4 or 5 minutes before another string of cars came up. After the third car pulled up my wife said "open the door and get out and Yeah, right. I’m gonna get out and this critter is going to jump and bite my throat. :) Be sure to get the camera while I herd it across. :) It is a Marmot.




We were going to stop in Grand Lake for lunch and then go back through the park, but we decided to go on through Winter Park (which we’ve lived here for over 20 years and neither of us have ever been to – it’s a City/County of Denver owned ski resort but the town is kind of cool). Had a Reuben sandwich. Then the road goes to I70. Here is a picture of the dead trees (3998). It’s everywhere. We had beetle kill in the Colorado Springs area in the late 70’s, but nothing like this. They say there will be no pines in another 10 years. We went by one campground with piles of dead stumps and ground up trees and nothing. The place we went to a long time ago didn’t look like they were going to have any trees. In 50 or 100 years the forest will be covered with Aspens, and then the pines will come back. This made me sad.




If you go across I70 by Vail the mountain looks brown. Aspen paid a helicopter company to haul off 200 dead trees from their mountain.




The place is a tinderbox. But if you want a log home it would be a good time to come and get some wood.




The weather was just not right to take the Mustang or the Cobra. We went through some minor rain storms that literally only lasted a few tenth's of a mile. On the way back between Golden and Boulder we went though a rain storm where some people were pulling over because their wipers couldn't handle the rain. The temps were in the mid 50's at the high point of Rocky Mountain (Trail Ridge visitor center) to mid 60's the rest.

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