Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wow. I always think of S. California as being all beaches.

I arrived and John's place for a few days of R&R on Tuesday, before heading up to Pacific Grove to assist my mother who is having eye surgery. John, as always, was the perfect host. Despite his illness and lack of energy, he managed to show me a few secret camping spots in the area. I can't wait to return in cooler weather someday and do some hiking. The Mt. Pinos area in the Los Padres Forest near Frazier Park has lots and lots of Jeep and hiking trails and an abundance of dry camping spots some of which are accessable by RVs (shhh don't tell anyone).

I left the nice warm weather of Southern California on Saturday and arrive in PG to foggy, misty, very cool temperatures. This is unusual for this time of year. Usually, with the temperatures cooling off in the valley, the coastal marine layer does not get sucked in and the coast is sunny and warm. As a child I always complained that summer didn't arrive until the first day of school in September. It seems that summer never really appeared on the Peninsula this year. However, with the pending cooling trend some beautiful weather should appear soon.

Asilomar Beach. I missed the beach party. It looks like the
party goers just left! This is on the Monterey Peninsula (Pacific
Grove) where I spent many a night at beach parties during my childhood.

And, introducing the newest member to my family,
Zoe Bea Campologno my great niece and her mom,

I sometime feel cheated because my brother had ALL girls(3) and has ALL the grandchildren (8). I have all boys (4), none of which are producing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Moving on

I left Lake San Cristabol very early this morning...6:30. Dawn was just beginning and I could see the mountain tops all around the lake were white with snow. It got down to 32 degrees last night and with all of the rain, its no doubt there was snow. It brought back memories of my days in Truckee, California, where I would wake up to the same scenes.

I am now going through temperature shock. The last few days have brought cold mornings and and cool days in the uppper 50's. Tonight I have stopped in Mesquite, NV and the temperatures at 1o:00 P.M. are in the 80's!! Gotta love mother nature!! I wonder what it will be like in Frazier Park?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rainy Days

Today is an “down day” for me. I’m going to leave early tomorrow morning for Frazier Park in Southern California, to visit John, thus I’m trying to get myself organized after two weeks of continuous playing. I’ve really enjoyed this part of Colorado and will definately be back some day. There is still much to see and do.

This is what I saw as I was leaving my rig to take Sadie for her morning walk

Overview of Lake San Cristabol where we camped

We did go back up to the Slumguillion Pass to see if we could get some pictures. The aspen leaves are turning rapidly and becoming more brilliant every day. Some of the mountain sides are a blaze with the different shades of yellow. As we had discovered before, there aren’t any pull outs on the pass itself, but we did stop at Windy overlook.

Red Mountain as seen from Windy overlook.

Slumguillion Pass is named after miners stew. Apparently, the miners living in the camp would put all their left overs and then some into a large pot for stew. There is also an area near the pass which is known as Slumguillion slide. The mountain side is gradually sliding and in one place you can see the trees are leaning.

If you look closely you can see the trees leaning.

It rained off and on all day, so it was a good day to stay in and catch up. When the sun did come out it was really nice. Its been very cold in the mornings (32 degrees) and with the cool temperatures if feels more like November than September.

Early Fall

I look forward to returning to this area someday, maybe in the summer when the wild flowers are in bloom, and explore so more. This is truly a beautiful place and I can see why it is so popular. Two weeks is really not enough time. Two months might be better!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Powderhorn Wildnerness Trail

Blue skies this morning....but a chance of storms later in the day. Jumped in the Jeep and headed towards Gunnison on part of the Silver Thread Scenic Byway to catch a dirt road up to the trailhead for Powderhorn Lakes. The lakes are in the Powderhorn Wilderness area. The docent at the visitor center in Lake City said it would take about 1 1/2 to get to the trail head. He was dead on. The 10 mile dirt road wasn’t the passenger friendly road outlined in the guide book, though. I was glad I had a 4WD high clearance.

This was a much easier hike than the last few we have taken. While there was some elevation gain, there was also elevation loss but over all nothing as strenuous as our Cataract Lake hike. The guide books said the trail would be about 4 1/2 miles to the upper Powderhorn Lake. It was actually five miles to the lake according to the GPS, making this a ten mile day, although fairly easy.

Marshy area on the way to Powder Horn Lake

Lower Powderhorn Lake

On the way from Lower Powderhorn Lake to Upper Powder Horn Lake

The upper lake was a typical large alpine lake nestled in a bowl circled by huge granite walls on three sides and trees on one side. The granite cliffs are the drop offs for the largest alpine mesa in the lower 48 states. There are no trees for miles. We did not get up on mesa but did skirt. We saw several hunting parties, but they they told us they had been unsuccessful at bagging any elk. There was evidence of hail still frozen on the ground and the temperature was cool. We managed to escape rain until about the last 3/4 mile of trail then it rained and hailed. Once we got to the car the hail and rain continued all the way back to our camp. The road became pretty muddy and seemed much rockier going down than when we drove up.

Powerhorn Lake

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alpine Loop Backcountry Scenic Byway

Aspen along the Alpine Loop

Today is the big day....the Alpine Loop. I've been looking forward to this drive ever since I arrived in South West Colorado. This is suppose to be a great Jeep tour though high alpine terrain and meadows. This backcountry scenic byway is infamous crossing over two high passes passable only with 4WD vehicle. We could have caught the loop near Ouray or Silverton, but this gave us an opportunity to do a loop rather than an out and back trip.

Going up the pass

The day started out, crisp, and clear. We started up Cinnamon Pass road, not too far from where we are camping and continued on to Animas Fork (an old mining town) and then on the Engineer Pass. The road over Cinnamon pass was rocky but nothing too technical. There were a few steep, rocky switch backs which required low 4WD gear, but the old Jeep made it up just fine. Do to the tight roads, Nancy couldn't get out and take pictures our our rock crawling endeavors. Engineer Pass was a little more technical, narrow, and rocky but nothing really scary. ...unless you are afraid of heights.

Reminents of one of the old townsites along the way

The aspen are turning color rapidly

We stopped along the way and had lunch overlooking the creek at Animas Forks.

We saw lots of Jeeps here and until then hadn’t seen much traffic. Thank goodness, because the road is narrow and there aren’t many pull offs.We stopped often to take pictures along the way whenever there was a pull out...far and few between. I had picked up a booklet that narrated the route, but the numbers didn’t always match the various signs along the way. The scenery was breath taking and the pictures don’t do it justice. The total mileage for the loop was less than 50 miles, but it too us almost 7 hours to complete the loop with all of our stops and lunch. A great day!

Road to Cinnamon Pass

Below: I thought this was the road over Engineer Pass. I wasn't sure about it. But it turned out this is a foot trail and the road takes off before this. Wheew!


Engineer pass

Looking back over the road to Engineer Pass

Whitmore Falls

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cateract Lakes Trail

Cataract Canyon

Early this morning we headed out towards the end of Lake Cristabol and beyond and scouted out some other campgrounds. Williams Creek Campground is still open and has water. We didn’t consider this campground before because the write up we had stated there was a 20’ limit on RV. This is not case. The site are nice and there are some pull thruoughs and there is some water (via spigots with no hose attachments). Mills Creek, a little further up has shorter sites and really wouldn’t be suitable for RVs. The would be less expensive with the Golden Access pass but not as close to the water.

We continued on up the road to our trail head. Our destination is Cataract Lakes. Our literature was vague but the trail was 4.1 miles one way and “moderate”. An eight miles hike is very doable for us. We weren’t sure about the elevation gain, but we weren’t to worried as most of our hikes included substantial elevation gains. We met some folks coming down and they raved about the waterfalls and color but said they didn’t go all the way to the lakes so they couldn’t tell us what the trail was like.

The folks were right. Lots of beautiful water falls

We found out pretty quickly what the trail was like. The first mile was good trail with some up. The rest of the trail was very steep and very rocky. The first three miles provide spectacular scenery with nice water falls along the Cottonwood creek. The views back down the Valley and up the Valley were stunning.

Views downs the valley

The lake is over the ridge

This was the easy part of the trail

Once we passed mile three, the going got really rough until the last half mile before we reached the lake. The trail meanders through rock and tundra and is above the tree line. The lake was anticlimactic after having seen Blue Lake Ice Lake on previous hikes, but the back drop was pretty. Also, our GPS read 4.6 miles to the lake..not 4.1. Makes a big difference when doing a round trip. Our total mileage was 9.2 and the elevation at the lake was approximately 12,100.

Cateract Lake

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Silver Thread Scenic Byway To Lake city

Early morning at San Cristobal Lake

Moving day and it's raining.....again. I had to head into town (South Fork) to pick up my mail and much to my disappointment it had not arrived. The clerk was very nice and advised me how to fill out the proper forms so it would eventually catch up with me down the road. When I got back to camp is was starting to rain harder. I prepared for the grunt up Slumguillion pass and in elevation of 11,500.

As we headed up the road the temperature dropped and I was sure we would get snow. At this point we still weren't sure where we were going to stay. Anyway, the trip over the pass was much easier than anticipated, maybe because we started out at a high elevation and really didn't have that much climbing to do. Do to the rain and lack of pull outs I wasn't able to take pictures on the summit. Also, the summit is rather flat and the trees are in the way and you can't see much. The aspen are turning and becoming more brilliant each day and hopefully, the sun will come out in a few days and I can go back and take some pictures.

It rained heavily all the way to Lake City. We found the turn off to San Cristobal Lake and made our way to Wupperman County Park (it wasn't listed in any of our guide books but was on my Benchmark map) and the perfect site by the lake. Again, we found that because the water had been turned off no fees were going to be charged. Free camping for a few days sounds good! This is a great little park. There are lots of flat sights; some a little tricky if you need to back in, but the views are worth it. We scouted out the visitor center in Lake City and gathered what little information we could find on some good hikes in the area and road conditions for the Alpine Loop which we plan to drive if the roads dry out.

Our campsite at Wupperman County park

San Cristobal Lake

We took a short hike billed as the Lake to Lake. It turned out to more more like Lake to Road. It was a nice little trail that just sort of ended abruptly on the main road. Oh well, at least we got a walk in without being poured on.


September 15

Nancy and I decided we wanted to see the Wheeler Geological Area and Judy had also suggested it would be well worth the drive...10 miles on an easy dirt road and 14 miles on a Jeep/ATV road. The morning was very cloudy and dreary, so I was hoping our drive would take us above the clouds We headed out early and took Pool Table Road up towards the Wheeler Geological Area. The first 10 miles on the dirt road were through open cattle grazing land and an easy meandering dirt road. Much to our joy we did get above the clouds and were in nice warm sunshine. At the end of 10 miles we noted a sign that warned of steep, rocky, rutted road. We took heed of the sign and we continued on up the mountain ....for a few miles. It took us almost a half an hour to go 2 miles! Maximum speed was 5 mph. We reached a turn around point and decided we didn’t want to take all day to reach our destination so we stopped and turned around and headed back down. The sign was correct...steep, rutted, rocky. In addition there had been several days of rain so the road was also very muddy in spots.

Turn around point up to Wheeler Geological Area

On the way back on the dirt road we stopped at Blue Park which had fantastic views of the canyon below with clouds lingering. We stopped and took some pictures and much to our surprise Judy came driving up on her ATV with some other folks. They were on the way to Wheeler Geological Area. I’m sure they will have a much easier time on the roads with their ATVs.

From Blue Park looking towards South Fork

We headed back out the dirt road to Creede. Creede is a very old mining town where some of the richest vanes of silver were found in the lower 48 states during the 1800’s. We drove Bachelors Loop which highlights some of the old mines in the area. It appears some of the old mines are being reactivated and are working today. The day was a perfect late summer/early fall day. NO RAIN!!

One of original mines along Bachelor's Loop in Creede

Turning aspen along Bachelor's Loop

Vista from Bachelor's Loop

We also found out there is an RV dump with water just as you enter town of Creede from the south. It’s a public facility for visitors and they do ask for a donation...$3.00-$5.00. Dumps are hard to find in this area unless you go to an RV park and they can charge you anywhere from $10.00 for dumping and then a additional fee for filling the fresh water holding tank, so this is a good deal.

We returned to the campground and while I was sitting by the river relaxing and reading a book, Tom, our campground host came by to chat (actually the campground is closed so he is just hanging out for a few days until he decides where he wants to go). He used to be a WIN and reminisced about some of the places and people he had met while a WIN. He filled us in on some of the campgrounds up north which will be our next destination. I asked about Slumguillion pass as the map stated it was a 9.5% grade. He laughed and stated it was probably steeper...more like 12%. Yikes!! I’m not sure about this. Anyway, tomorrow we’ll head out on the Silver Thread Scenic Byway northward.

Rio Grande Resevoir and Valley

The Rio Grande and Valley

September 14

One night of luxurated in an RV park was enough and we hooked up and headed over to Palisades Campground. Judy and Andy picked us up at the campground and we headed out to the Rio Grande Reservoir which is north west of Creede and about an hour drive north from South Fork. Were we in for a treat! The aspen were turning as Judy had said they would be and the colors were brilliant. They weren’t at their peak yet, but the drive was worth it.

Nancy, Judy, Me, and Andy .. WINS having fun!

Nice little lane of turning Aspens

The Rio Grande Reservoir is located in a huge valley and the head waters of the Rio Grande originate in this area as a small stream. Its a beautiful place with lots of camping, hiking and fishing on Forest Service land. It would be a great place to spend a week or more exploring the different dirt roads and trails. On the way back we stopped at the local watering hole and had a homemade hamburger and ice cream, yummmm. I’m going to have to get a few more hikes in if I keep eating out like this.

Rio Grande Valley towards the North ( I think)

Rio Grande Valley

Rio Grande Valley looking towards the resevoir

Rio Grande River in the Valley