"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Ultimate Campsite in Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, Colorado
Kendall - National Forest CG

While we've spent a few different days in Silverton over the past few months, we almost didn't get to camp there and spend an extended amount of time due to some brake issues.  I was able to carve out some time in our schedule though so we were so excited to be able to stay here at one of the most beautiful boondocking sites right on Mineral Creek.
Fall is peaking here in southwest Colorado!

As you drive in to Silverton from Durango, you get a great peak of town down below, nestled between mountains on all sides.
Home for the next week and a half.
Only a couple of miles out of town, great cell, there is an outhouse, but no water, garbage, electric.  Nice flat area, easy in/out and gorgeous!

 The river is maybe 10 feet behind the trailer.  It's a beautiful milky turquoise color.
With the pinkish-red rocks, the color of the water, the bright blue sky, green pines and colorful Aspen, it couldn't be more gorgeous!

We even have a nice custom rock firepit which will come in very handy as the temperatures are really cooling down now.

We took a drive into town to walk around and have dinner.
Just outside our camp we came upon a bull Moose.
Papa Moose
It was actually a family of moose. We have not seen a whole family together before.  Dad, Mom and 2 young ones.  They were so cute.  Even nuzzling each other.
Moose Family

The colors of the Aspen are just beautiful.  I was really hoping we'd still be in Colorado to see the Fall.  I was afraid they'd have a late Fall and somehow we'd miss it.

Silverton was an old mining town dating back to the late 1800s when gold was discovered.  It sits at 9318 feet in elevation and has a population of just over 600.  Silverton is now most popular because it is linked to Durango by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a National Historic Landmark. At the end of the month we'll be taking a ride on the train with some friends.

The town is small, quaint and colorful.

It was our 32nd Anniversary so we decided to have dinner at Handlebars.

One of those places with stuffed animals everywhere and funny signs. Only classy places for us!

We had a great meal and a lot of fun in town.
After dinner, we kicked back along the river and watched the fullmoon rise with a warm fire burning.

Loved the reflection of the moon on the river with the fire in the foreground.

Most of our days were spent driving the back roads, enjoying the Fall color.

I can't get enough of these mountain views.

 Silverton, Colorado
We did some nice hiking and geocaching which brought us to the Christ of the Mines Shrine built on a mountainside overlooking Silverton. It's a12-ton, 16-foot tall statue of Jesus Christ, sitting 500 feet up the slope of Anvil Mountain, north of town. It's made of Carrara marble from Italy and the alcove of the Shrine was made of native stone which came from the Old Fisher Brewery.  The Shrine has been attributed to several miracles in town over the years.

 There are coins, trinkets, crosses, notes, prayers and rosaries left on the statue and wedged into cracks in the rocks. 
Another cache was hidden above one of those white letters we've all seen at the top of a hillside standing for the town. "S" for Silverton.
It was a steep hike up to the top.  No trail, just bushwacking.  Then some rock scrambling.

King of the Mountain.

Made it!

Silverton way down there.  See our truck parked at the bottom with our red kayak on top?

Coming back down is often harder than climbing up.

There's the "S" in the upper left corner.

A closer view.

Good Night!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mines and Hiking in Creede, CO.

Creede, Colorado
Rio Grande Natl. Forest CG

Creede, Colorado sits at an elevation of almost 8800 feet with a population of just under 300.  We found a great boondocking spot at the Rio Grande National Forest thanks to Dave & Dianne.  It's a very small campground but there were 2 spots big enough for us.  The one at the end was just perfect!

 Our fabulous site on the river, #7.

The view out our front door.

The fall colors on the Aspens are really starting to change quickly.

I love that Creede is built right at the base of the mountains.

We took a day trip back over to Lake City.  We were there on our Jeep trip from Ouray a few posts ago.  We knew we wanted to come back and spend more time exploring the town.  Of course we also geocached the whole time too. 
One cache brought us to this great cascading waterfall which we hiked to.
We took The Silver Thread Scenic Byway that links Creede to Lake City.  This road has been designated as a U.S. Forest Service National Scenic Byway as well as a Colorado State Scenic and Historic Byway. The Silver Thread is named for the rich veins of silver ore that brought miners and settlers and also for the spectacular river canyons and drives over the Continental Divide.
 One of the nice lookouts along the way.

We had wanted to eat at the Packer Saloon and Cannibal Grill last time but we didn't have the time.  This restaurant is named after the cannibalistic occurrence that happened here long ago (similar to the famous Donner Party in CA)

Great outside patio!

Steve had a Pulled Pork Sandwich and I had a French Dip.  Great food too.

One last cache to find before we got back home.  It started at an old cattle pen and then we had to bushwhack up a very steep mountainside to an area where some eagles used to nest.

 View from the top looking over the valley.

Great hike, cache and sunset, but now we have to hoof it down before it gets dark!  It took about an hour but somehow we made it down without killing ourselves just as it got dark.
 The next day we met up with Dave and Dianne for a day drive on The Bachelor Loop Trail.  The Creede Fire Station is located near the entrance of the canyon.  It's built into the mountain.  Really cool!

How awesome is that?!  Unfortunately I couldn't find any firefighters to ask about it.

Us with Dianne and Dave.
The Underground Museum is also here which we will tour tomorrow.

Lot's of old mining towns and buildings.

We stopped for a break and these adorable birds landed near us. Steve and Dianne put chips on their hands and the birds came right down for a snack.  Very curious and friendly.


What's most impressive about the old mines is how much work they put into reclaiming and restoring the surrounding area.

Dianne checking out one of the od mines.

The Last Chance Mine at the top of the mountain, was our main destination for a tour in a working mine.  From their website: 
Production from this underground mine that once worked the Amethyst Vein, ended some 50 years ago. Since then privately owned mines in Creede have been closed to the public and Amethyst Vein specimens and lapidary material have become increasingly scarce. But that changed when rockhound and mining-history buff, Jack Morris, recently reopened the Last Chance Mine. The Last Chance, one of Creede's richest and most historic mines, dates back 115 years to the early days of Creede's great silver boom. Today, the mine is again a source of Amethyst Vein material for collectors and lapidaries.

There is a lot of interesting information about the mine purchase so if you'd like to read about it or get more info on the tours, just click on the link above.

Incredible views from up here.

 I did find this sign on the Porta-Potty amusing.  Ten people?  Didn't feel that roomy to me.
We've got our hardhats on and in we go.

The tunnels were large enough not to feel claustrophobic.  It's creepy, but very cool.
I'd heard the word Tommyknocker, but never knew what it meant.  Now I do.  Luckily we didn't see any.  They say they are really friendly "ghosts".


In the dark, the walls look mostly gray and uninteresting.  When our guide, Fish, would light up an area we could see all the Amethyst, silver and many other minerals which he'd point out to us.

It's hard to tell in this picture, and this is a very large area, but the gaps you see were emptied out of material that was full of gems and silver.  The logs you see are original and are actually holding up large sections of rock.

Myself and Dianne.

The tour was great and we really recommend it.  Since the mine just reopened, they just have the one tour.  But they have worked hard to add another tour for next season.

Cute squirrels that come visit you on the outdoor patio (which hangs over the mountain side).  Dave and I decided to sit down, relax and have a snack while Steve and Dianne took some buckets and hammers down the mountain to rummage through the tailings for amethyst, silver, gold and many other types of gems.
There they go.  Have fun you two!  We'll wait for you up here.

 Some of the old, unrestored buildings.
Towards the bottom of the loop and the end of our drive, was the historic cemetery of Creede.
The old church.

One of the fancier crypts.

Loved these beautiful slices of trees that made the headstones.

Here's a closer look.

I always love the old wrought iron work on the fences.

There was a nearby home with some unusual yard art.

A missile in the front lawn?

"Bob Ford, Slayer of Jesse James".

 After a long day we were very hungry so we stopped in town for a drink and some appetizers at the Tommyknocker Tavern.

 The next day we went back and took the Underground Mining Museum.

You walk down a recreated old mine.  They told us of this one interesting section in the mine where there is a face in the rock.  It can only be seen using blue lights.

There were many motion pictures filmed in Creede.  Here's a prop from "Lone Ranger".

 Some of the popular folk back in the day. I wonder what brought Calamity Jane this way?

North Clear Creek Falls is the most photographed waterfall in Colorado. North Clear Creek Falls is near the summit of Spring Creek Pass.

We wanted to do some hiking back to a series of lakes off a 4 wheel drive road.  More geocaching.  There was one in particular we wanted to get that was hidden in a cave/mine up one of the mountains.

We've already hiked up the lower part of the mountain.  You can see the cave up above.  You have to hike up a very steep section of loose scree (rock).  Some of it is big and some of the scree is very small.  You get quite a workout as you slide down more than you climb up.  There is no trail so it's every person for themself.

Aw, Hurley and I resting in the cave with the Ammo box that held the cache.  What a great view from up here of the lake and valley below.

It started to rain just as we made it to the cave.  We took a nice rest, but now it was time to get back down.  Lots of "scree surfing" and butt scooting to get down.

After that long day of hiking we met back up for dinner with Dave and Dianne again.  This time we checked out one of the locals favorites, Kip's Grill.  The food was great, the service, not so much.

 I'm glad we made time to go to Creede and visit with Dave and Dianne.  Off to Silverton next!