Anniversary Thoughts

Posted Monday, August 31, 2009, at 12:30 AM
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  • Good Reminder. Thanks. Arley

    -- Posted by Navyblue on Mon, Aug 31, 2009, at 7:39 PM
  • Slicker,

    Did you every camp out at Turquoise Lake, or along Homestake and Porcupine along the west side of the divide off to the left of the highway going west from Tennesee Pass' summit?

    Back in the 50s, you could back pack or horse and mule back and pack into remote areas of Colorado's divide regions and not see another human being for two to three weeks. Today, set up camp alongside a small stream in the high country, in splendid isolation -- and some hairpin with a 4wd or three wheel ATV will come roaring through about 3 a.m.

    Ain't progress wunnerful?

    Along the east side of the Arkansas River, north of Buena Vista, there were several abandoned narrow guage tunnels. Spread your bedrolls inside one of those tunnels and forget summer rains. Put your fire just outside, or just inside the tunnel mouth and relax.

    What can you tell us about the divide country from Monarch Pass to the Eagle River as it exists today?

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Mon, Aug 31, 2009, at 9:17 PM
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    Hank - One of my favorite camping areas is along Homestake Creek below the reservoir. Jeeped up to Holy Cross City four times, once without breaking anything! Avoided closer to Leadville for the most part as getting too crowded for me. The abandoned Rio Grande over Tennessee pass has some tunnels I've driven through in the last 5 years. Only narrow gauge tunnels I remember visiting on abandoned lines in Colorado are the Needles Eye on the original Moffet road prior to completion of the tunnel, and the Alpine tunnel.

    I really like the area around Camp Hale. So much history and so many roads and hiking trails it's hard to be for outdoor recreation. Still seems pretty remote for central Colorado.

    While not difficult as far as 4 wheel trails are concerned, you can have a great trip from the top of Monarch Pass going down the old pass road and ending up in Pitkin. Rich mining history and spectacular scenery! With a good set of topo maps or a good guide that knows the back roads, you can spend a whole day in the back country on moderate at worst trails.

    Most of the trails in the area are wide open and easy to navigate, but there are some low lying areas where the brush really crowds the "road". Colorado pinstriping is common with brush scratches down the side of Jeeps. The area would be great for dirt bikes and ATV's as well.


    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Mon, Aug 31, 2009, at 10:00 PM
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    Hank, as soon as I hit save, I remembered all the NG tunnels south of Cripple Creek I've been through... duh! Also love the siphon into Homestake

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Mon, Aug 31, 2009, at 10:02 PM
  • Slicker,

    The old Tennessee Pass railroad tunnel must be the one that was in use when I was up in the high country.

    The tunnel west of Turquoise Lake which punched through above Aspen was officially closed and unsafe -- probably was for any use -- but some people considered the unsafe referred to trains and did not include light tracked vehicles or jeeps.

    Actually, I would like to see the Forest Service ban all motor vehicles above 10,500 feet elevation, anywhere within Colorado forests.

    Do not understand how able bodied people can even begin to understand that country from the seat of a 4WD. Backpack or horse or mule back should be the rule. The high country is why humans were equipped with feet.

    Last time I was out in the back country was up in Southwestern Montana's Bitterroot. Had a small camp alongside a stream until a beknighted idiot came through at full throttle, knocking down saplings and roaring right through the camp.

    He wasn't even going to stop when he realized what he had done.

    When his left rear tire kind of exploded and then the left front joined in the action -- He stopped.

    We shared his camp gear and supplies, since he had destroyed 80% of ours -- and packed out.

    Don't have any idea how he was able to replace two "holed" tires with one spare.

    I have pretty much the same feelings for most Mountain Bikers-- It absolutely gets your attention when you are backpacking 50 miles from a road, on a down-sloping trail and some biker comes barreling into your backside at 40 miles per hour

    That's bad enough, but I've seen the results of a 4WD slamming into a string of horses because the driver decided to "let 'er out" on a down-hill trail grade.

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Wed, Sep 2, 2009, at 5:32 PM
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    Hank - I feel your pain with irresponsible back country recreationists. It's a problem now and will only get worse as more areas get closed and more people try to get into the back country.

    Even numbers of people trying to climb 14ers in Colorado have become a problem with tundra damage, and you and I know how long that takes to repair itself.

    My experience with impact problems is almost always an education problem. If people had any idea how fragile that mountain environment is and that the only way to sustain use is to reduce impact, things might start to improve.

    Problem is here in Nebraska too. Illegal hunting on private property just shows that folks that don't respect private property rights will like abuse public property without remorse.

    I still think that testing to get permits to use public lands, especially motorized vehicle use, should be required. Assuming somebody knows the rules or has learned common sense has nothing to do with the reality of public land use.

    As far as banning motorized above 10,500, good luck, That highway up Pikes and Longs Peaks are gonna stay open no matter what I'm afraid Hank. The reality of banned mechanized use of public lands is locked in wilderness areas only open to those on foot or horseback, which to me is OK.

    I can tell you from personal experience, there are a lot of 4x4 recreationists that are physically unable to hike into the back country. Age, health, and a myriad of other reasons for lack of mobility make motorized transportation the only way some folks can get out there.

    In the long run though, you may get your wish. More and more areas are being closed to motorized recreation and the resulting conflicts and increased damage caused by higher density use may actually get most public lands closed to only non motorized use.

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Wed, Sep 2, 2009, at 9:21 PM
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