Friday, May 19, 2017
Our Wednesday Trip to Crestone involved 5 carloads of our intellectuals Most hiked, then ate at the Cafe/Grocery Store, then visited 3 locations of oriental living and (some) religion. We had different responses among our group this "community" of Crestone and the Baca Reserve. A couple of them were that the town didn't seem as weird as they had expected. At the Ashrams, etc., we noticed the distinct differences and interesting similarities of the three places we visited. Each one had wonderful views of the San Luis Valley--all the way to South Fork. This produced questions such as "why haven't we been here earlier?"
and "Next time, I'll wear slip-on shoes when I go to the meeting halls" and "how many of these facilities are there?" A couple of the hard core hikers also mentioned their urge to hike 5-10 miles into the Sangre de Cristo mountains and perhaps come out on the Westcliffe side. This mountain range is said to be the longest in the lower 48 states (from near Salida south to Santa Fe, NM), some of the highest peaks, and the narrowest at 10-12 miles through at ground level. The Utes and other tribes considered these mountains as sacred, along with Jicarilla Apaches, Navajos, and many other tribes. When they came here, they respected the "special place" and sought peace. It seems that people from many parts of the world have found this peaceful place, some moving in for the calm and relative simplicity, others for restoring balance in lives, and others for short visits to sense the special serenity of this place.
[There is a lot of discussion of this place on the intermet. It is worth dialing up "Crestone, Colorado" and reading for several days. The mayor's comments are inspiring but realistic. She says not everyone comes here to stay, but all are affected.
I'm one of the latter and glad that I can return to these mountains where I spent several short periods on the East side of those high peaks. Judy and I spent one of our 4 honeymoon weekends on the other side of the Sangres (same peaks but east-facing) at a private ranch, where she rolled off one of the gentle horses. Fortunately, she promptly got back on and enjoyed the ride (she may have another version). Then, last summer we enjoyed them again as we drove to another ranch for a wonderful lunch and a chance to commune with some other horses and good cooks.]
North Crestone Trail (R.Grande National Forest)--not a log
fit for crossing.
Beautiful fast, pounding stream of spring snow melt
Lovely trail for hiking, both up and down, about 1.5 miles
from the interesting town of Crestone
Rip-roaring creek beside us.
Peak from the trail--one of the many from 11,000 to 14,000 plus
We visited three attractive oriental ashrams (or other names)
Penny admires the carpet
WAter fall at site #3, where we got interesting assistance
Our Student Japanese Student guide
Marilyn revives her Japanese with a student worker.
If you want to see "the other side", there are two lovely routes to take.
1) Go to and North through the city of Walsenberg to the motels and George's Restaurant, North of town and swing left onto State highway 69. Take it NW into the Wet Mountain Valley (it is paved), which aims where the pioneers traveled (along the Huerfano River). Go into the valley where the peaks rise up and your scenery quotient rises. Aim for Westcliffe. There, turn left on State Rd 96, drive on lovely winding roads to Pueblo.
OR: 2) Go a little farther north on I-25 for 22 miles; turn left onto paved 165, and wind up the Wet Mountains, passing Rye, a YMCA camp where most kids in Pueblo go, and Lake Isabel and beyond (if you don't want to stay in your tent). Don't miss Cinderella's Castle up in the mountains on 165. There you're headed through lovely mountains This road runs into State Rd. 96 (where it dead-ends). Choose left or right: Left takes you to Westcliffe and right takes you via Wetmore and into Pueblo. This is one of Colorado's Scenic Byways.
These are well worth the extra hour or two with: photos galore!
Monday, May 15, 2017
Scheduled ATV Club ride for Tuesday, May 16th. Ride will be to Old Woman's Creek and around. This is 50" and side by side friendly. Meet at the Visitor's Center and be ready to leave at 9:00 am. Hope to see you then,
9 of us took quick walk up above the first tier of palisades near the Rio Grande and Highway 149. We walked about 1.75 miles or so, then down to the highway. It seems we were in a hurry (social obligations) and we went a little too high to play our normal view games on the top of the cliffs. We got to meet Hilary, newly arrived in town and looking for shelter and work here in South Fork. She's a good hiker, too.
Next Monday and Wednesday, we'll have two hikes, one of them (Wed) with several cultural events.
Next Wednesday we honor the request of several to drive, walk, and enjoy some culture in the interesting community of Crestone.
We expect to drive to Crestone, hike a while on their beautiful, dramatic trail, then see some of the features of that interesting town and surroundings. Some will want to indulge in the interesting lunches that are available. Others may prefer to eat what they bring in their lunch bags. A few may want to visit the grocery store.
The close-up Sangre de Cristo Mountain scenery is breath-taking as we approach the village. Most people who live here call it a unique, treasured place. It was considered very special by the Ute people and their predecessors. Various religious groups keep this alive today. Many report that their time here changed their lives. Religious people from the Far East have recognized the special character of the place and have several institutions. Likewise, Colorado College of Colo. Springs has a field campus here, as does a Catholic nunnery.
This will be a long day trip, so come prepared. We can still carpool. Individuals may prefer to drive their own cars for post-shopping, etc. We'll leave the South Fork Visitor Center at 9 a.m. (or earlier if you request it).
Monday, May 8, 2017
On a frosty morning, we altered our destination to avoid icy cliff tops. Nevertheless, a couple of hikers got up on some boulders in the Boulder Field. We kept walking at the end of it, going up a cattle drive path on the back side (South) of Beaver Mountain. The chilly morning turned into a warming sunny day. We'll get back to the planned hike next week, providing it doesn't snow or turn into ice.
In case you missed it, we're now hiking on Monday and Wednesday, departing the Visitor Center at 9 a.m. Adults and older teens are welcome, without pets. Short term
visitors are welcome (no charge). Boots, a jacket, and a little water and snacks are recommended--we're not hiking smooth trails all the time. Monday hikes usually aim at 5 miles round trip. Wednesday hikes are shorter or longer (the leader is old and operates without modern gadgets — we aim for scenic destinations and adjust to suggestions by the hikers as we go).
May 1st Monday hike took us to a big valley stopped by cliffs and steep hills. Only a few traces of snow remained on the hills, shaded by big trees. We were 16 (some said 17) hikers. This "dead-end valley" is near South Fork, just west of Bear Creek. It looks like a nice close-in place for tenting. No water however.
Our May 3rd hike will also be close in. It will have you following deer trails above COLO 149, just a few miles up the road. You'll enjoy your skill as we climb a bit, then walk along a series of the palisades we usually see from a car. We'll be on top of the lowest of these, with very little stress. I hope you'll enjoy the wonderful views of our fine scenery. Start on Wednesday at 9 a.m. from the Visitor Center. No need for ropes. Please wear good boots, not tennis shoes.
— Doug Knudson
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Monday's hike was windy but not cold (at least after we got started). We enjoyed the beginnings of a Claret Cactus show and the splendid views in all directions.
This was along the tops of the cliffs southwest of the Hospital in Del Norte. If you have time, those cactus flowers will be in bloom for another couple of weeks--worth an uphill walk to the South-facing slopes up high. Several other floral shows may be getting ready to show off in the same area.
Thanks for Sherry's fotography and enthusiasm. My camera needed a dose of energy which I hadn't given it.
No hike on Wednesday this week. We will start Monday and Wednesday hikes at the Visitor Center in South Fork on May Day (May First and May 3rd). As usual we will try to have a different hike each of the two days. Normal starting time: 9 a.m.
Dennis is back and hiking. In June (or before) he will offer kids' hikes, probably with gathering and parking at the Chapel of the South Fork. Another adult or more help keep things happy and under control.
Due to my ineptitude in writing, several people have asked when tomorrow's hike will start.
We have changed the starting time for Monday to 9 a.m. at the Visitor Center.
They win. Meet at 9 a.m. at the visitor center.
We will start at 9 a.m. from now on through the summer and into the fall.
(If you don't read this in time and want to catch up with us, we will be parked at the trailhead lot
in Del Norte (at the place you turn off 160 to go to the hospital). You may find us up south of the hospital and out beyond that on the big range of hills to the south of the hospital. We will go up, wander around the hill tops, then come back the same way we went up.
Notice: 9 a.m. is our starting time for Monday and the rest of the summer. When May 1 and 3 come upon us, we will have two 9 AM starts-- Monday and Wednesday mornings. These hikes are almost always different. They are about the same distance most of the time, but they are to different places. We will announce ahead of time when one or the other is especially difficult or different in distance.
(However, a few times during the summer there will be announcements of earlier starts so we can get to some far away places. For example, several people want to climb some of the high peaks over near Lake City. We will announce those as we schedule them--probably in July and/or August.)
If someone or some paper still repeats a rating or difficulty "rule", please recognize that they probably haven't been hiking with us and don't have current information.
We haven't conducted hikes with rating systems for several summers. Of course, each hike is different. Sometimes in the summer we have recent arrivals on a hike and we have to adjust the distance and speed. If we have an unusually "easy" or "hard" hike, we will do our best to announce it a day or two before we start.
One hiking club asked us how many hikes/trails we have available. We made a quick count to 75.
Since then, we have followed 5 or 6 that we hadn't included. If you get bored with those, we may be able to find more.
Many of you have preference for different types of hikes. Please let us know ahead of time so we can
plan our hikes to suit you. The only limitations on this are:
1) We hike in the forest, on the dunes, across the taiga, or in the valleys;
We can't find many places for "flat" hikes.
2) We seldom take "asphalt" hikes.
3) We do cross some creeks, few of which have bridges; we recommend hiking boots.
4) We don't have the equipment or skills or insurance to lead rope-cable-piton hikes.
A reminder: we ask that you not bring pets with you no matter what their temperament or size. Some of our hikers are uncomfortable around other peoples' pets. Occasionally pets require special attention.
This beautiful Easter morning +1day offered a nice stroll along the Rio Grande. The moon set before we left, but the sky was deep blue and a few flowers were showing off for those who looked for them. The River was full and running fast. Lots of evidence of elk was helping fertilize the almost-green grasses. Our feet took us across from the Masonic Park, where we sat for a while while we hunted for refreshments in our packs. Then we moved away from the river, headed NW toward our vehicles on the SW side of the RR tracks.
This almost hike was requested by some starting hikers to help build up their breathing and muscles. They reported that it went well. Some said that they could now handle some steeper slopes. We'll help them ease into these hikes with another slightly slanted Monday hike next week (9 a.m.).
Then, on May 1 and May 3, we'll start our 9 a.m. hikes. These usually cover about 5 miles and go into the afternoon a little. Some may take us for a few more miles but we'll warn you.
We suggest that you hikers do some vigorous walking on hill near home at least 2-4 times per week between the group hikes. These short vigorous walks will make the group hikes easier and more fun.
Wayne and I will lead hikes, with Dennis Shepherd helping out and taking kids on Thursdays, meeting at the Chapel of the South Fork. (By the way, the Chapel now has a new minister who started yesterday with a fine and lively service. You are all welcome.)