"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

Friday, June 3, 2016

Chalk Canyon and the Colorado Trail

Salida, Colorado
Boondocking

We're heading out to do some hiking on the Colorado Trail, and some nearby trails..  After enjoying another drive through the Chalk Canyon we did some short hikes where we could pick up some geocaches hidden along the way.
 
Chalk Creek is a 27 mile-long river flowing from the Collegiate Peaks mountain range. Mt. Antero borders the south side of the river and Mt. Princeton borders the northern side. It empties into the Arkansas River at the town of Nathrop, Colorado.  The river is named after the white kaolinite cliffs that stand at the entrance to the valley.  They come from hot spring deposits. The white cliffs are visible for miles in all directions.

 
For those that don't know what a typical geocache hide looks like, above is one.  You follow your gps coordinates through the woods (or wherever it is hidden) to the cache.  It's not always on a trail making it more adventurous. This large hide was under some rocks and sticks and had a fair amount of "bling" (goodies/trinkets) in it.  We signed the log book inside, logged it on geocaching.com and were off to the next one.  It was a beautiful morning.

Chalk Creek Canyon

Peter Pan?
 
 
Want some exercise and a great view? This hike climbs nearly a thousand feet on the Colorado Trail for a spectacular view of Chalk Canyon, Chalk Cliffs, and Mount Princeton.
 
We started out hiking south on the Colorado Trail. You cross the bridge over Chalk Creek with the elevation of 8,380 feet. The first section of the trail is pleasant, gaining just 130 feet elevation in .4 miles.  After crossing the road you continue past the Colorado Tail/Raspberry Gulch sign where the trail will get progressively steeper as you hike another mile to find the cache at 9,292 feet elevation. The 3 mile round trip hike with almost 1,000 foot elevation gain is tough, but the view is worth it!

View of Mt. Princeton

We found a nice geocache hidden up here.  Across the valley from this angle, you can see what looks like an alien face in the cliffs.  Pretty cool!

A storm was rolling in and the temps dropped quite a bit as the wind picked up.  We didn't get to hang out too long.  We barely hit the first switchback to let a mountain biker pass us.  He stopped and asked us if we saw that mountain lion?  We were like WHERE?  He pointed to the rock we were just sitting on!  He said his squeaky brake startled it and it ran down the ledge.  Holy cow!  It must've been within 50 feet of us!  He said it was a pretty cinnamon color instead of the usual brown.  Glad it went down the other side from where we were.  We sure went down that mountain quickly scanning the area the whole time.

We decided to add a few more miles on to hiking by doing the Historic Railroad Grade.  The trail was once the grade for the Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad that traveled through Nathrop, St. Elmo, the Alpine Tunnel and Gunnison from 1880 to 1926.


It's a nice smooth section with great views of Chalk Canyon below and several caches along the way.

Remnants of an old chimney.

There are some great boondocking spots in the National Forest in this area.  We scoped out a few for when we return later in July.  No one around for miles.  Easy access to trails and rivers.


More hiking!  We love this area!  Brown's Creek and Little Brown's Creek goes about 16 miles.  We hiked just a little of it.  As usual the hike started out with great weather, but these afternoon thunderstorms come quickly.


Back down we came sooner than we wanted.

Nice rainbows though.

Always something different to see if you pay attention.

I love the roads that meander all through this canyon.
 
Cottonwood, Clear and Chalk Creeks run through the canyon and provide some nice fishing.  The water was still running fast but fairly clear.  Below is a small rainbow trout I caught on Cottonwood Creek just below the tiny dam where the Cottonwood Lake empties.


 
Watching the sun go down after the storm passed.


More geocaching during the week after work.

 
We found our 500th Geocache on the Arkansas Riverbank.  Pretty cool accomplishment.
 
NEXT UP: More snow and more fishing!

14 comments:

  1. Mountain lion....whoa! I wonder how many have seen us out on the trail over the years????? I've not seen one yet while hiking...I imagine it's only a matter of time...

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    1. Lisa, I've always wondered how many have been watching as well. Creepy! We didn't see it. While I might have liked to have seen it from a distance... running the opposite way... we were glad not to have. I don't think I ever want to see one while hiking. Mountain lions or wolves. No thanks. Bears? We've seen them hiking but only from a very safe distance (both black and grizzly).

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  2. I do believe if I ever encountered any of the above-mentioned wildlife, I'd scat... in my britches. LOL! Just sayin'.

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  3. Congratulations on your 500th geocache, Debbie! Very cool!

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    1. Thanks Jim. We're actually at just over 800 now :-)

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  4. Sounds like you're having the same weather as us. Lots of thunderstorms and summer not quite making it in full force. Our spring was more like summer. Congrats on your 500th find! Looks like a great area.

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    1. The storms have been off and on, mainly late in the day so we have to get early starts to do any longer hikes or hikes high in elevation. Otherwise, the weather has been perfect, temperature-wise.

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  5. Wow....love those mountains. Wish I could convince Glenda to be more adventurous and try boondocking. No doubt you're still enjoying CO. Be safe and keep away from the big cats.

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    1. Definitely having a blast. There are tradeoffs to boondocking at times, but we love that it's usually the most beautiful locations and we've only spent $150 last month and this month!

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  6. It would have been awesome to see that mountain lion! Nice trout, looks like you are getting in quite a bit of fishing along the way. We are going to have to save your boon-docking spots for when we finally make it to that state.

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    1. Ask us about the boondocking spots. They are AWESOME! Did you see my pics on facebook at Breckenridge? We killed them for 3 days. All 2 - 4 pound rainbows! I have one in the freezer.

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  7. Not sure why you were concerned. Steve could totally wrestle a mountain lion with his bare hands :)

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    1. Ha ha. Just so you know, if he comes down a trail without me, don't believe his story!

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