The good news is that by morning... her answer hadn't changed. So far so good! We headed into Crested Butte to "buy" coffee. It's fun to buy something on a camping trip because you get used to making everything. Plus, it's a fun excuse to leave the vehicle behind and meet some locals. Crested Butte is beautiful, but not for me. The town was packed to the gills. Everyone was "on" if you know what I mean. Very expensive restored classic 4x4's, Escalades etc. This was not a working town. Everyone was nice, but it seemed like even the people running or biking around had spent some time to look cool before they dared step outside. I like a more relaxed feel. Oh well, the coffee was good, but a bit watered down. On the way out of town we saw a Bear Dog. That's what I'm going with anyway. He was huge. He also liked to stand precariously up there and he'd lean into each turn as they drove up the canyon. Scary, but I can tell the dog must do this often because he was in a state of pure happiness and concentration.
After a few dirt roads down the mountain and some miles of pavement we finally hit dirt again.
This area was beautiful. No other people around oncoming or going our direction. That sort of peace and quiet starts to put you into an extreme relaxation mode. Just some ranches here and there, but everything was spread out and the overcast skies made for perfect weather to open up the windows and sunroof. I was happy!
Eventually we made it around Lake City again and onto the lower (southern) section of the Alpine Loop. There is a turn worth taking onto road to the Carson Ghost Town. I've been there several times, but this time we eventually came around the corner to a mud pit. It was several feet deep, on an incline and covered the entire trail. There were 4 UTV's slinging the mud and trying to get through it... After watching for a while we decided to turn around. That made for some nice and muddy work just backing to a safe spot to turn around! Yum!
Funny how one hill on a pass can be filled with flowers and the other still covered in snow!
Just amazing. Each pass and each valley is different. Sure, they are all mountains, but never the same. This valley is devoid of any trees in stark contrast to most of these areas.
One valley, gulch or whatever you want to call it over:
Don't drive off the edge. I repeat, don't drive off the edge. Also, don't drive into the up-slope side of the hill. It can be done and you'll still end up over the edge like this guy. If you've ever driven Black Bear pass you know that there is no way to roll it here, or you'd think. Two vehicles could fit side by side on this section of trail, but the driver must have not been paying attention. Who knows. Don't be this guy!
It can get a bit steep around here.
So, after all of this exploring around we decided to go to Clear Lake. It's a nice set of switchbacks to reach it and since the Holiday weekend was ending it should be quiet up there. You climb some tight switchbacks for 45 minutes or more and are treated to this view.
If, like us, you go too early in summer you'll also be treated to a hike! :-) Several of the final switchbacks were still blocked with snow. So, we parked and headed up.
To say that it's a nice hike is underestimating it. I'm glad we had to hike. It made what was to come even more special.
This is not Clear Lake. This is a puddle just downhill from it. Come on Colorado, this is insane. How can a puddle be this pretty. You're just toying with us now!
Clear Lake... was a bit icy.
Still, it was amazing. The blue color was showing through and it always looks fake to me. I love it.
When the clouds start cascading down the hillsides around you... it's time to go! We could see the clouds moving in and knew it wouldn't be long before it was pouring rain and low visibility.
Then as you are hiking back to pause at the most beautiful stratigraphy you've ever seen, knowing full well it won't translate to a photo with the same gravitas it hit you with.
This photo is from our campsite up in the valley looking back to the switch backs we were just on. Clear Lake is right at the top of that mountain. Mind blown.
We found a great campsite and enjoyed the rain. We sat in the truck with the back and side windows open. We laid there listening to the rain and a Louis L'Amour book where the characters were having an adventure not far from the part of country we were currently in. It was perfect. There is no where else on earth I'd rather be. I slept like a log too.
The next morning I was excited to know out the beautiful, but crowded trails of Black Bear Pass and Imogene.
The drive up to Black Bear Pass itself is easy. Steep, but easy. To the top two way traffic is fine.
The only problem was the snow field in front of us on the way down... I had the pleasure of backing up a steep shelf road in reverse for a bit, but at this point it was all second nature I had done so much of it over the last few days. The view was amazing. At the far end of this valley you can almost see where two slopes come together. That's the sketchy bit of Black Bear pass you see pictured everywhere. Oh well, I'll scare her another time!
Well, it looks we'll be headed down and over to Imogene Pass!! You could tell that the dozers had just carved a path on Imogene. This wouldn't have been passable with that help!