August 22, 2010 GMT
Colorado

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Having crossed the continental divide (again) at Willow Creek Pass (9683 feet - 2970 metres) I continued on towards Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. I was in Colorado in April but it wasn’t possible to get up to Rocky Mountain National Park that early in the year due to the snow and low temperatures. I had only been in the south west corner of Colorado to Mesa Verde National Park and coincidently Silverton and the San Juan Mountains where Horizons Unlimited are hosting a meeting towards the end of August (26th - 29th). As I have an invitation from the Department Of Homeland Security to leave the USA on or before the 9th September 2010 I am unfortunately unable to attend the Silverton meeting but I‘m sure all that do will have a good time.


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Crossing The Continental Divide Again

I was staying at Shadowlands Hostel overlooking the lake and town of Grand Lake and stopped at Windy Gap just outside Granby to relax in the sunshine before the last leg of the journey.

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Windy Gap, Colorado

The hostel is a traditionally built log building with a veranda on two sides giving views of the lake and town. It was a great, relaxing base to explore the Rocky Mountain National Park. At 8367 feet (2550 metres) it must be one of the highest hostels I have stayed in. The town of Grand Lake was picturesque with parks along the main street and at the lake shore. A bit too touristy for me perhaps but not completely over the top.

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View From Shadowland Hostel, Grand Lake, Colorado

The Trail Ridge Road running through Rocky Mountain National Park climbs to 12,183 feet (3713 metres) and even in August rises above patches of snow lying in sheltered pockets on the mountain sides. The scenery is naturally stunning and I saw a couple of elk on my way to Estes Park and Bear Lake. As it is so mountainous there are few passes so the only viable option was to return to Grand Lake via the Trail Ridge Road but that wasn’t much of a hardship.

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Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

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Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Heading south once more I stopped at Leadville, Colorado the highest city in the USA at 10,152 Feet (3094 metres). I had travelled up Fremont Pass with a few drops of rain occasionally falling but on reaching the summit at 11,318 feet (3450 metres) the descent was dark grey, shrouded in swirling clouds emitting thunder and lightning with rain hard enough to leave water pouring across the road. This continued for over an hour but eventually eased off as I left the mountains behind.

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Leadville, Colorado, The Highest City In The USA

My next stop was at another friend of a friends in Salida, Colorado. Karin runs an Estate Agency (Real Estate Business) and is actively involved in local politics. I was kindly invited to tag along to the business and political meetings meeting the great and the good of Salida. Visiting some of the properties from upmarket homes to traditional mountain cabins was interesting and enabled me to see a lot of the local countryside as we toured round. We were at one large property to discuss water rights with the property owner and the county water commissioner which seems to be a very complicated subject to almost everyone.

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View From 'My' Salida Home

I was introduced to Don Adams, a famous motorcycle and car racer in the USA. He has competed in the Paris - Dakar Rally in a works car and has an impressive collection of race bikes and cars. The bikes were mainly British Nortons and Triumphs.

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Traditional Log Cabin In Colorado Mountains

My last destination in Colorado was Great Sand Dunes National Park in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The dunes are the highest in America with the tallest, Star Dune rising to 750 feet (229 metres). The sand can reach 140F (60C) on summer afternoons.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Posted by ianmoor@tiscali.co.uk at August 22, 2010 07:23 AM GMT
 
 

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