Part 31: Boulder, CO to Cripple Creek, CO


Navigation Links

The Trip

After addressing the 1017A issues, we headed to Boulder to visit a long-time family friend.  She is in grad school at CU and it was great to see her.  We were going to stay in a motel in Boulder, but the returning students and their parents had the whole town locked down.  We ended up driving until late in the night to find a place to camp.  The People's Socialist Republic of Boulder does not allow RV parks within its city limits.  It does, however, condone and support begging on its streets.  Very odd.

The photos below are what we saw.

As we drove into town from Boulder Canyon, we spotted this car filled wich girls that had been tubing in the canyon.  A creative way to transport the tubes, but I would have let the air out.

Bill and Alia.  Ali is all grown up now.  I, by contrast, am growing out.

From Boulder, we headed south to Colorado Springs to pickup our HiLo trailer.  Along the way we stayed at a campground south of town and spotted this new water tower under construction in Ft. Carson.  I never knew how these things were built, but it appears that they build a crane in the center of the tower and then dismantle it when construction is complete.

We picked up the trailer at the RV dealership and then towed it to La Junta with the Unimog.  We had to remove our cargo basket to haul the trailer, which meant that we had to leave it at the dealership and return at a later date to pick it up.

Preparing to haul the trailer was a total CF.  First, there was a lip on the mounting area of the trailer tongue that interfered with the hitch.  So, we ground it down.  Next, the tongue of the trailer is so short that it caused the body of the trailer to interfere with the bed of the mog if we did a reasonable turn, so we had to add an extension to the hitch.  Next, my hitch was too low causing the towing geometry to be wrong and putting us in danger of dragging metal if we crossed a swail in a parking lot.  The RV guys ground down the tongue and loaned us equipment knowing that we had to return to get our cargo basket.  After several hours of screwing around and doing test turns, we finally headed back to La Junta to drop off the trailer.

After finishing in La Junta, we headed back to Colorado Springs to drop off our borrowed equipment and get our cargo basket.  When we were done, we headed into the mountains to camp.  We stayed at a reasonable place, but it was quite crowded.  After having been on the road for so long, we forgot to check the calendar.  Rats!!  It was Saturday and all the family campers were out in abundance.  Next morning, we decided to head up Pike's Peak.  Again, we were thwarted.  It turned out that there was a timed mountain climbing event going on and there were tons of folks on the mountain.  Above, you can see part of the narrow switchbacks on the grade to the top.

There were tons of bikers out as well.  It turned out that there was a huge biker's rally at Cripple Creek with thousands of bikes in attendence.  On the ascent of Pike's Peak (PP) we passed this unlucky biker who had dumped his ride in the middle of the dirt road.  A ranger stopped to assist him, so we did not stop to help.

On the way to the top of PP, we got some great views of the areas to the north of the peak.

The road is narrow and steep with many tight turns.  The mog was not happy about the combination of altitude and grade.  And, to make things worse, I had gotten a load of dirty diesel and my fuel filter was becoming clogged causing the truck to produce great clouds of white smoke.

From the top, we got a view of the large mines to the south of PP.  I think these mines are in the Cripple Creek area and are seeking gold.  But, whatever they are mining, they moved a lot of dirt!

Near the peak, the terrain changes to alpine tundra with minimal vegetation.

Colorado Springs and the neighboring cities maintain several drinking water reservoirs on the flanks of PP.

The summit is high.  Being a "flat lander" and living at sea level,  I was panting like a dog trying to catch my breath.

The finish line for the Pike's Peak Ascent was right at the top.  There were so many contestants that the race organizers were running shuttle buses to carry the runners back to their cars at the starting line.  The race started at Manitou Springs and had an elevation gain of about 7K feet.  Pretty hard core.

Pike's Peak also has a cog railway that goes all the way to the top.

Part of the cheering squad for the race.

The sign says it all better than I could.  The views from the top were dramatic.

Almost ever mountain in the west has some kind of radio repeater facility and PP is no exception.

On the way down, we got some better views of the gnarly road.

Bad news.  Something has broken in this fellow's vehicle on a very steep part of the road.  Yes, it is as steep as it looks.

The road passed some interesting rock formations.  Note that this switchback is more than a 180 degree turn.

Some of the rock faces were very steep and most of the chutes had rock slide and avalanche zones.

There was all kinds of support equipment in place for the race.  This truck was one of the bigger ones that we saw.  Note the faces of the workers as they try to "process" the mog.  Next to the truck was a mandatory brake check.  There was a deputy there with an IR thermometer shooting the front wheels of the cars that were passing.  Two of the cars in front of us were told to turn off the road for a 30 minute cool-down period.  When he saw the mog, he did not know what to do.  Truth be told, the road was so steep, I was in 2nd gear nearly all the way down and never used the brakes.  My speed was very slow, much to the chagrin of the cars behind me.  But, having boiled the brake fluid out of the truck several times, I had no intention of letting that happen again.  So, I just let them stew in the eau de mog.

From PP, we headed to Flourisant to see the fossil beds.  The views of the surrounding meadows were very nice when contrasted against the bright blue sky.

The fossil beds were somewhat underwhelming, but they did have this nice specimen of a redwood tree in situ.  The steel cable is helping maintain the structural integrity of the stump.

As I stated above, there were a ton of bikers in the area.  In the parking lot, I spotted this monstrosity.  All the detraction of a motorcycle, but none of the advantages.

From the fossil beds, we headed south to Cripple Creek and encountered the biker's rally.

Tons of bikes and tons of people, mostly in the bars and restaurants.

From Cripple Creek, we headed south toward Victor.  Along the way, we passed this huge tailings pile from the gold mining efforts.

Outside of Victor, CO was a roadside museum that had mining artifacts.  Look at this tire; it is about 12 feet in diameter and cost $25K new.  The size is a 50/90R57.  This means that the tire is 50" wide.

A steam powered hoist winch.

Another steam engine.

The tailings and overburden pile was huge and was the result of efforts spanning about 100 years.

On the far side of Victor, we spotted this abandoned head frame and mill building.

Another head frame.

Pike's Peak was very interesting and aside from the scary drive up and down, it was very scenic.  Next time I think I would take the cog railroad is it would allow more time to look around rather than having to watch the road with great intensity.

From Cripple Creek and Victor, we headed south down Phantom Canyon to Canon City.  Phantom Canyon was very cool and 30 miles or so of dirt road that followed the old narrow gauge railroad route that serviced the mines.  We stayed at a camp site that was located on a working ranch north of Canon City, so it was not well know or crowded.  They had a nice pool and clean facilities, so we were, as they say, happy campers.

Tomorrow, we will head to Royal Gorge and check things out.

Navigation Links
Previous Adventure
Top of this Page
  Next Adventure

Trip Home Page

Bill Caid's Home Page

Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2010, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.