Colorado 2017 in the Mighty Merc – Tuesday

We were so beat from our hiking adventure the day before (not to mention the sore backs and blisters on the feet) that it seemed prudent to do a bit more mechanical exploring rather than loading the kids up on our backs again. So we slept in and headed off towards Webster Pass:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

It still strikes us as funny to come across these signs out in the middle of nowhere:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

But they were actively working out there. I’m sure it was more for erosion control of the road, but the guy on the track hoe was essentially just making large speed humps in the trail. We continued working our way up the pass:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Obligatory shot at the top of the pass:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

From there we continued down Hand Cart Gultch which was the narrowest shelf road we had been on yet in the Merc. But continuing on the assumption that this thing really isn’t much wider than a JK with larger tires, we figured that we would be fine:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

This was probably the most narrow spot of the trail, and I still had a good 12” of room to wiggle by this rock face. No worries!
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Of course, when we got to the bottom of the trail, there was a sign noting that full width vehicles should not attempt this climb. Oops!

The low land marsh area was pretty as well and passed by a few old mines:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

The kids were happy to get out and stretch their legs next to the waterfall:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

As we descended in elevation again, the Aspens really started to pop:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Once we popped out of the woods, we headed off to Boreas Pass to wander back towards Breckenridge for lunch. On the way there, we happened across this tiny snow plow:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Pressing on, we continued down the gravel road (with everyone else in the world it seemed) to see the sights:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

After grabbing something to eat in town, we decided to hit the Peak 10 trail before heading towards Silverthorne. This trail was kind of interesting as is starts out cutting through the parking lot of a ski lodge and following the lift up a good portion of the trail:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

But the trail climbs quickly and turns pretty rocky once you get to the end of the lift:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

It also gives you a nice view of Breckenridge as you climb:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

At the top (about 13k feet) there is an old weather station with a decent view:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

We pointed the nose downhill:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

And wandered our way back to Dillon for the sunset:
Sara L.: Tuesday &emdash;

Slideshow from the day (Click me!)

Next Post:  Wednesday

Colorado 2017 in the Mighty Merc – Monday

After being cooped up in the truck for some time at this point, we figured that a break in the schedule was needed. To we had planned on today being a hiking day with covering a bit of the Blue Lakes Trail, and the McCullough Gultch trail:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

But before we even got to the trail head, we had to stop at the Dillon Reservoir again for some sunrise photos:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

After seeing another beautiful sunrise, we set our sets on the Blue Lakes Trail hike, but I’m not entirely sure we actually hiked any of the trail. We were in the right area, but I think we just wound up wandering a FS road. Which worked out as there was a pretty waterfall at the end. Wandering up the grade:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

We did end up at the Quandry Peak for a bit:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

After wandering back down the lower lake and the supposed trail head:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

We crossed a good and sketch bridge to the trail:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Not much to see along the trail, but the falls were nice. Though I spent most of the time at the falls keeping the kids from falling off the edge:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

And of course, there was some rock relocation action as well:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

After goofing around a bit too long we found ourselves close to Lunch time, so we wandered down to Breckenridge where there was a pretty awesome playground, and grabbed some lunch:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

With our bellies filled after lunch, we decided to head back up the hill to hike McCullough Gulch. This is where our hiking adventure turned a bit sour, but at least it happened at the end of the trail. This trail starts out at 11k feet, and climbs up to 12k feet. It is supposed to be about a 1.5 mile trail total. Well… not quite. Turns out it is closer to a 2.5 mile trail one way. And way more rugged than either one of us expected. Rugged enough that we each fell twice, which is something neither of us have done (even with kids on our backs).

But all of that was ahead of us, and we ignorantly started out with gusto! The drive up to the trail head gave us vistas of more Aspens changing colors:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

There was a ton of people in the parking area. Enough that we figured the trail would be packed, but it turned out that we saw very few hikers the whole time we were on the move. Which suited us fine:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

We did find an older couple that grabbed a photo of the family. She’s carrying about 30 lbs of wiggles, and I’ve got about 45lbs of wiggles on my back:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

And we kept marching on:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

The trail varied quite a bit (though it was always steep!) from wide areas, to forested areas, to boulder fields:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

The views kept getting better as we went up in elevation:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

We did take a little side detour to see some falls:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

We kept on gaining elevation, and we were feeling it pretty good by now:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

Eventually we made it to our destination, the lake below the summit:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

We let the kids run around for a while as we caught our breath for a minute. Eventually we headed back down the mountain at a quicker rate than we ascended. About ¾ of a mile from the truck, the wife started feeling ill, which meant I got to carry the kids the rest of the way to the truck. Needless to say, I was pretty well done by the time we got everyone loaded up.

Heading back into Silverthorne, we had an unpleasant sight:
Sara L.: Monday &emdash;

I should mention that this area (and the areas we’ve been exploring) are extremely dry right now. In the end, this little forest fire was controlled pretty quickly, and only consumed about 21 acres.

That wraps up today fun, tomorrow we’re back in the truck for more exploring.

Link to slide show (Click Me!)

Tuesday’s Gone Again….

Colorado 2017 in the Mighty Merc – Sunday

Sunday morning we started our usual vacation routine of waking up early to catch the sunrise. With the time zone change, the kids were up and running well before daylight so they were happy little troopers willing to help Mom out where they could:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

And I couldn’t pass up this perfect photo op:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

She is pretty good at catching good photos:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

From there we ran down to Tiger Road:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

To the trail head of the North Fork Swan River trail, which we wound to the St. Johns Trail:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

The trail though rated as being moderate really wasn’t bad at all. We later came to find out that often “moderate” just meant that the trail mostly consisted of the trail being laid with softball sized rocks.

Lots of dispersed camping in the lower elevations in the tree line which were making me jealous of the camping opportunities we have in the Midwest.
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Just past a water crossing:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

..the trail got steep in a hurry:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

This little V notch ahead made me appreciate the Full Widths and the crawl box. However, the crawl box did pop out of gear on me halfway up the climb which dumped me into the middle of the notch. Whoops:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Once we got above of the tree line tree line the views stared getting a tad vaster:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We stopped at one of the FS cabins at the top of the mountain where there were remains from an old mining claim around.
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

These two guys kind of set the tone of the folks we met while banging around on the mountains. That being, the guys in the Yota’s and other off brand vehicles tended to be pretty cool to shoot the breeze with, the guys in the main stream new brand, not so much:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Of course the kids had fun running around the top of the mountain as well:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Turning around away from the cabin, we dropped then climbed a bit following the trail along the ridge:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Stopping to grab a photo here and there:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We eventually got to the fork in the trail and turned towards Webster Pass to work our way down in elevation:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We found a nice little place for lunch where the kids quickly made some bird friends:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

I’m always amazed at how much mining stuff is left lying around out here:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

After lunch, we ran up the Santa Fe Peak trail. Lots of Aspens were changing colors as we went through the tree line:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Eventually we broke through the trees and started seeing the peaks:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Then something awesome happened, it snowed! We got to watch the snow blow in for a little bit (just enough to briefly dust everything). It was pretty cool seeing the snow bands move around. Sadly, it didn’t photograph as well as we’d wished:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

At the dead end, we turned around and wandered back down through the snow. Full widths, and a narrow ledge? No problem:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We wound our way back to Chihuahua Gultch to run a little bit of it before we ran out of daylight. Again, the Aspens looked pretty neat:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We stopped just past the second water crossing as that was the real spot that the wife wanted to photograph:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

And the kids wanted to throw rocks for a bit:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We loaded up and rolled back to town for dinner and some rest:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

We did try to catch the sunset, but this is the best we could do:
Sara L.: Sunday &emdash;

Slideshow from the day (Click Me)

Next up.. Monday!