wildlife wildflowers and waterfalls: Cache La Poudre River, Routt National Forest and Colorado State Forest

wildlife wildflowers and waterfalls

because "...you can't invent more time." Lemony Snicket

Dan and Linda's Travel Journal

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Cache La Poudre River, Routt National Forest and Colorado State Forest

A trip to Colorado in the summer! I am excited. Our destination is the Routt National Forest. There is an important stop first—Monument and our grandkids.

Since Doug and Drue moved to Colorado, we plan three to four visits a year. Doug’s birthday is mid September so we wait until then to enjoy the fall Aspens and less crowds. A recent move and the fact Trent, Carly and Drue are involved with school is changing our schedule.

I know it is hard to believe, but 9:30 PM, Tuesday, July 22, we leave Skye at our neighbors and take off west.

Our plan is to avoid Kansas heat. And we did. We drive to the Russell rest stop before fatigue sets in at 1:00 am. Five o’clock am finds us perking coffee, anxious to make time in the cool morning air. We reach downtown Denver during the lunch hour, pick up the motorcycle carrier and arrive in Monument at 2:00 pm Wednesday.

Moving is still in progress, so we help where needed—mainly by watching Trent and Carly. Their new home is perfect. They will enjoy the extra space and beautiful view.

Sadly, limber pine dwarf mistletoe, a damaging parasite of pine trees, is present in some of the trees. Infected trees eventually die. Thankfully, the Mountain Pine Beetle has not reached their trees.

Friday morning, we all pack to go our separate ways. The kids leave for Estes Park to camp with friends. Doug plans to climb Longs Peak on Saturday. Our destination for the next five days is Routt National Forest and Colorado State Forest.

Cache La Poudre, Routt National Forest & Colorado State Forest
The trip north from Monument goes quickly. We stop in Fort Collins for supplies, and then begin the trip through the Cache La Poudre/North Park Scenic Byway.

We allow plenty of time. I am glad, as it is a beautiful trip. Highway 14 winds alternately through steep canyons and wide vistas while following the Cache La Poudre (pronounced cash luh pew-der) River. The lower part of the river is perfect for lounging on inner tubes. We wish we could join those leisurely floating by.

Further up the canyon we watch laughing groups take out rafts. When I see where they had traversed the river, I am not so sure I would want to join this trip.

As we approach Cameron Pass, the Trekker makes the climb effortlessly. Our destination is our friends Mark and Karen’s home currently under construction. Mark tells us it is exactly 17 miles from the top of the pass. As we roll down the other side, we pass Gould a small dot on the map. I guess a restaurant and campground does make a town. A day later, we find this little town has plenty of pride.

Soon we park in Mark & Karen’s front yard and enjoy a beautiful sunset, hummingbirds and lively conversation. Mark’s sister Scarlett and her husband, Rex are already there. All of us are about the same age and background. We have a lot in common.

Throughout our journey through the canyon and National Forest we notice entire sides of mountains infected with the Mountain Pine Beetle. Mark and Karen’s property is no exception. The six of us spend half a day cutting and removing dead trees. There is still much work to be done. I hope that removing the dead trees will give live trees a better chance. Mark assures us he will not be burning any of the large piles of branches until there is snow because of fire hazard. The positive side is beetle damaged trees do not lose their integrity. The lumber has a blue tinge and we spotted its use in Mark & Karen's beautiful new home.

We all look forward to the community turkey fry at the Gould Community Center. The meal consisting of five deep fried turkeys accompanied by potluck dishes is wonderful. We are impressed with the community spirit shown during the evening. The event is a fundraiser for the center, a former WWII POW camp. Signs are still evident in the building where prisoners stayed and cut wood during their internment.

Sunday morning we attended church in Walden a quaint, interesting town seemingly unaffected by tourism. Friendly, warm smiles welcome us as if we belong. The church is rich with history, including two paintings done in the 1930s by young artists who wintered in the church basement due to lack of funds. The long winters and accompanying harsh climate draws residents together, then and now. They look out for each other.

After a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, we prepare for the move to the Routt National forest the next day. Dan and I will only stay a few days. Others will come and go for two weeks.

Friends and family of Mark and Karen meet at Routt National Forest to celebrate the memory of Ken, their son, who was killed in a snow mobile accident in 2001. During the stay, everyone makes the trip up the mountain to the accident site. Children and adults tie yellow ribbons on surrounding trees as a memorial. We did not know Ken well, but the number of family and friends who gather each year in his honor let us know he was a special person.

A highlight of our stay at the Routt National Forest campsite (lower left near Pines)
is the trips on specially designated trails up into the mountains. The sunset run was especially beautiful as was the top of the mountain experience. Also, each morning we left the campsite at 6:00 am to travel to the Colorado State Forest North Michigan Reservoir, just a few miles north, to fish for trout. We were quite successful at the spillway below the dam catching our limit all three days.

Thursday comes too soon. We leave at noon, making it to the Kansas Welcome Center for the night. The next morning we stopped at Chapman to see Mom and arrive home by 2:00 pm.

For those who care about this sort of thing, we traveled 1,631 miles, used 98.406 gallons of gas, averaging 16.57 mpg costing us $380.17 in fuel costs. Our RV is a ¾ ton conversion van weighing 7,640 pounds (we weighed it on a truckers scale on I 70 coming home). We attribute the fairly good mileage to keeping the speedometer at 62 to 65 mph. Not counting groceries (we have to eat at home) nor the cost of the RV (about the same as a nice SUV) the nine-day vacation cost about $550.

Beautiful family, friends, scenery, food and weather. This Colorado trip was worth every penny.

Colorado July 2008 1

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