Friday, July 29, 2016

Beckwith Pass/Three Lakes Loop Hike

Gunnison KOA
Gunnison, CO
July 23, 2016

 Joe and I headed out with Ronnie and Carol to Lost Lake Campground where the trailhead for Three Lakes Loop was located.  Lost Lake CG is located on Kebler Pass Road which is a left turn this side of Crested Butte.  It's a drive through a historic neighborhood of hodge podge homes...some really nice, some really cute, and some really run down.   

Other than a quick stop at the Visitor Center, we have not made any stops in Crested Butte.  It is always busy and congested. 

We traveled about 17 miles on Kebler Pass...a gorgeous drive through aspen forests, evergreens, and slopes of wildflowers before we made the left hand turn to Lost Lake CG.

Our hike started at the lower parking lot.  

We did a counter clockwise loop that began on the Beckwith Pass Trail which climbs up to a junction with Three Lakes Trail. 

I enjoyed the beauty and fragrance of the abundant wild roses.

 Lake 1 of 3 was Lost Lake Slough along Middle Creek.  It is much prettier and bigger than Lost Lake. 

At the first juncture we turned left and took the side trip to the 2nd of 3 lakes... Dollar Lake.

 The smells, sights, sounds and feel of the forest...makes my heart happy !

Showy Fleabane grow in large clumps from sagebrush hills to subalpine meadows.

 The last section of the loop was easy as we passed The Falls and headed down toward Lost Lake...lake 3 of 3.

Of course no hike here is complete without a creek crossing.  Here Middle Creek flows into Lost Lake. 


 All in all, this was a great 4.5 mile loop with lots to see, lots of shade, and lots of fun.

As we headed home on Kebler Pass, I noticed what looked like coneflowers in large bunches along the road that had already bloomed. This brought back memories of the sticks and bricks and my gardens.  Joe pulled over and I quickly got a picture.  To my surprise as I was looking in Wild About Wildflowers  I found what I had photographed.  

This is a Rayless Coneflower and what you see is what you get.  It never had petals.  These purply-brown cones of disc flowers bloom late in the summer. The guide even stated that they are abundant on the west side of Kebler Pass. 
 Our time is winding down here in Gunnison.  Today was packing up day and we hit the road early in the morning heading south to Tucson.  I still have a few more posts to do from Gunnison so will finish up when we are settled in.  

So, until next time happy trails !
Street art in Crested Butte

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hike to Roosevelt Mine

Gunnison KOA
Gunnison, CO
July 22, 2016

While meandering down Main Street in Pitkin (our previous post) , Joe and I learned about Roosevelt old mine near by.  I could not find any info on how the mine got it's name but did read a little about the history of the Pitkin Hotel.  

The Pitkin Hotel was built in 1904 when Teddy Roosevelt was president.  It is "believed" that Teddy stayed there during one of his hunting trips.  

None of the 3 original owners of the mine were named Roosevelt.

Main Street (or County Road 76) is the only way in and out of Pitkin.  Heading in the direction of Gunnison, the trail head and parking is at mile marker 12.  A small sign and path lead to a sturdy bridge that crosses the Quartz Creek. 

From here the narrow path turns left and follows the creek.  
 It's always fun following a creek.  The path meandered through thick foliage and in some places was inches away from the creek.  

Twinberry is common along streams and in moist soil here.  The long yellow, bell-shaped flowers provide lots of nectar attracting hummingbirds.  The ripe pairs of plump dark purple berries provide food for other birds.  
Twinberry is in the honeysuckle family.

Following the creek, we reached the formed concrete Power Generation Plant that supplied electricity to the mine.  
 A wooden flume carried the water to the generation plant. The steel bands that held the wooden flume together can be seen beside the trail above the building.

The trail crosses behind the old flume bridge, and ascends a steep, short slope before reaching a graded mine road/trail where we turned right.  

 A few switchbacks later, we reached the Roosevelt Mine Tunnel and the remaining walls of the old mine buildings. 

The entrance features extensive craftsmanship.   

Roosevelt Mine opened in 1907 with "a great deal of promise".  From all I read, it was successful with the primary ores being gold, silver and some copper.  Veins ran deep and wide.       

 According to info, it closed in 1919 amid controversy with the owners...a case of too much money and too much greed. 

 It turned out to be another great day of exploring and enjoying life.  

 Until next time...


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ghost Towns...Iris and Pitkin

Gunnison KOA
Gunnison, CO
July 20 & 22, 2016

I love reading about the history of places we visit.  The following information was gathered from several internet searches and lots of reading.

Mining was far the most significant industry in nineteenth and early twentieth century Colorado.  The Pike's Peak Gold Rush brought unprecedented numbers of people into the region that in turn led to the creation of the Colorado Territory in 1861 which in turn led to the admittance of Colorado to the Union in 1876.  Driving the back roads around Gunnison,  many efforts of prospectors seeking the mother load are visible.   

In addition to Crystal and the magnificent Crystal Mine, we have also visited Iris and Pitkin in the surrounding area.  Of course, Gunnison also has history, but that is for another day. 

Back in the 1890s a series of towns grew up in the low sagebrush covered hill country when gold was discovered.  Prospectors poured in from older mining districts and Iris was born.  The population of Iris reached over 1,000 with several stores and saloons along "main street".  A single phone line from Gunnison provided contact to the outside and mail was delivered 3 times a week.  There is not much left of Iris today.

One of several buildings...   

the mining shaft...

a hard working prospector's wife...

and several pieces of equipment.

Our drive to and from Iris took us through the Dutch Gulch State Wildlife Area.  

It is beautiful country...

Next up Joe and I headed towards Pitkin.  I had planned a hike to Silver Islet Mine near there.  Our directions were right on, but failed to say that parking to take the hike was at an intersection on private property and we didn't feel safe about leaving Pearl parked there...bummer ! 
Pitkin got it's start in the 1870s mining silver.  It's population grew as continuous discovery of other mines in the area grew.  The first covered stage coach ran through in 1880 and the first church service was held in December 1881.  It had a telegraph office, a saw mill, a school house and by 1882 there were over 60 business and over 300 residences with a population of 1,000+.  

Today, many of the old buildings are still there along with new ones. 


In the late 1990s Pitkin had around 80 full-time residents, but summertime brought that count up to 200+.

While we were walking down Main Street, two very nice young gentlemen whose family owns a cabin there asked about our day and we struck up a conversation.  As we were talking, an uncle of one of the young men pulled up and joined in the conversation.  He was on his way to cut the grass at the church.

Uncle Richard knew lots of  Pitkin history and told us Pitkin was the first mining town west of Denver to have electricity in Colorado.  He also told us about a hike to Roosevelt Mine that was a couple of miles south of town and on our way home.  Yippee !  Exploring, history and a hike all in the same day...more on Roosevelt in the next post.

Until next time, happy days and...