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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yup, I went back up there this week, more to beat the heat but also to work. No crowds yet but this Labor Day weekend should be packed

So, I have to say I'm not obsessed with Bighorn Sheep. I rarely see them, maybe once a year while I'm driving on I-70 and a small herd might be off to the side, like some diorama CDOT puts up to entertain the drivers. This year I'm coming across them a lot, like this herd outside Almont

I'm driving from Almont up north to Crested Butte when I see brake lights ahead. A lot of drivers had stopped to check out the herd off to the left side of the highway, maybe it's not such a common sight up there either. I made two U turns to get back to them

After the first U turn, now they're on my right

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I drive a ways south, make my second U turn and they've bolted to the other side of the road

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The crowds have moved on and I drive slowly up the shoulder. The herd seemed to freeze in place and I was able to get real near them, like they were posing for me

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Like still life. Like those dioramas I see on I-70

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Then there's moose. I never see moose. Yeah, I did see one on Kebler Pass in June but that was the first one in years

Fast forward to the day I'm leaving. I'm headed up Cottonwood Pass, mostly concerned with staying focused on the road at around 11,800' when

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Not a posed image this time, this female was crashing through the shrubbery then across the road way in front of me

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This is all happening real quick and I'm pretty far away, just trying to capture the moment. In retrospect, I think she was trying to teach her calf to be paranoid of traffic

The calf which now appeared hadn't gotten the memo and stopped in the road to check me out, like it was it's first car sighting. Finally a posed shot!

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Momma Moose is anxiously watching events unfold

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Now they're both checking me out. Thanks for the pose you two

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Love seeing the wildlife. Although last time I saw a moose, I was hiking and a cow came through the brush right in front of me. I had just enough time to think 'at least she doesn't have a calf' when out walked the calf. I almost pooped myself and thought I might get stomped. She looked at my flailing yelling dumb arse for a minute, then walked on. People worry about bears...I worry about moose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I like to hike off trail into what I call the "Deep Forest". Up above and away from the 100 year old stumps left over from the pioneers building railroads and cabins and such. Back where basically man has no reason to go but I do, in search of primeval scenes of trees growing, dying, falling over, turning into dust over 100s of years, all on their own with no input from man

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So I'm just below Cottonwood Pass and see a likely patch of trees to explore. There is a stretch of wetlands to cross, which probably weren't passable a month ago but should be OK today. At least the wetlands would keep any errant logger away. I figure I'm high enough in elevation that the creek that has thwarted my efforts down lower, well maybe it's not a creek yet

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It's kinda wet and squishy but not too bad. I press on

Always a pleasure to see a Newberry Alpine Gentian, fairly rare compared to the blue Alpine Gentians

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I've taken friends back into the Deep Forest before but checking out fallen trees doesn't seem to interest most hikers, they just want to hike! But me, I go slow and check out the chaotic piles of roots and rocks and limbs and trunks, all lying in state, as it were, for who knows how long. I try to imagine the chronology of their placements

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Always on the lookout for a suspended rock

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More carnage

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Tough to tell from a pic but there's a lot going on here. Fallen trees upon fallen trees

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Anyway, I kept hearing a "chuff!" sound while back there in the silence. I was imagining a bear checking me out and making that sound. What else would be making that sound? I didn't want to stick around and find out so I headed back to my car

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Just a short walk over to my car parked under that tree, right? Well...

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I figured it would be squishy like last trip over this wetland but I was about 40 yards up slope this trip. I got to these holes and it started getting real squishy then went south quickly. Pretty soon the water was over my boots, going up my calves. I kept going further thinking the worst was over. It wasn't

To end my story of panic at thinking any second I was going to step in some hole and sink down forever...all they'd find would be a gray pullover and a camera. I was out of sight of the road, no one would be looking down there. I sank up to my butt once going across a landslide that took out a friend's office building in Boulder and know the helpless feeling of being stuck and no way to extricate myself, it took three guys pulling me out then but I was on my own here

I was hyperventilating with the effort and fear, I admit it, fear. I tried stepping on branches of the odd bush that I came across but I still sank down to my calves. I got closer step by step to where the land rose up out of the squish but it took for freakin' ever to get there, the holes I'm fearing surely at my next step

But, obviously, I got out and didn't die. Yet another stupid thing I'm putting on my list of activities to avoid: crossing all wetlands at 11,800'
 

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Years ago lived in the mtns at the front range, every day of every summer for 5 years had bears in the yard/area. I would be watching tv at night and feel something staring at me, and a sloppy snotty nose would be pressed up against the living room window, freaked me out the first time. Too bad really because they were super conditioned to come down to the residential streets in the forest and get their food...I am sure same maybe even more severe wild/res interface now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I went up Washington Gulch. Was the paving completed?

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So far so good

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Nice and smooth

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Nobody on the roads but me, totally different than the last time I was here

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There's always next year

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Things have gotten organized further up. Back in the day it was the Wild West up there but now...

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I get the feeling this landowner doesn't want anybody on his property o_O

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Shame. It got crowded at times but people respected the landowner, each other and the land as much as possible.

This may happen in Sedona. The land is being destroyed. However, culturally Sedona is more about making money than preserving the land.


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
On my last trip to CB the cows were on the move, from Gunnison up to Taylor Park

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And it has come to pass, cows were everywhere up there

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I've had more eye contact with wildlife this trip than ever. I'm sitting in my car late afternoon at the ever-lowering Taylor Reservoir, gazing at the oncoming storm

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when I look over to my right at some cow grazing way over there across the road. As I'm looking at her, she looks up and stares my way. We "lock eyes" for about a minute (not to anthropomorphize too much, but, yeah, it was like she recognized me. Probably it was my cow-sized black Honda she thought she recognized)

I go about my business when...suddenly...here she is next to my car

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She was as big as my Element. She moved a little to the left and almost leaned against my car. This is as close as I want to be to a cow. I could have reached out and touched her but my window was rolled up :)

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She moved down to the left, doing what cows do which is eating and crapping. Back and forth she went. It's incredible how loud cows are in full-on eating mode

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Finally her and her half-grown calf mosied away to eat (what else) and I drove away. Speaking of eye contact, a few hundred yards down the road this calf stood his ground and gave me the stink eye

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Funny, wife and I were in CB this past weekend and had many of the same observations as you've posted about above. The bighorn herd, cows and paved Cottonwood and Washington.

I commented that the Washington paving was just far enough for all those expensive new homes. I didn't see anyone flailing about in swampy ground off the side of Cottonwood on our couple of passes over it though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Rescued from a watery grave by 6th Element, that would have made a great thread!

Cold Spring was fully occupied (all six sites) so I went to my go-to CG Rosy Lane, which was nearly empty. The camp host said it was the first time she'd seen it empty all summer, lucky me

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Rainy does not mean dreary. It's always cool being in the forest, wet or not

I was constantly amazed that there were empty sites

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A very rare sight. It was like a winning lottery ticket that no one had claimed

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Go this direction up to Taylor Reservoir/Cottonwood Pass, go right down to Almont then either up to CB or Gunnison

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It might rain at night up there but it never seems to rain early in the morning

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I parked across from Cold Spring and sought out the spring's short path through the forest to the river. This was one of the off-trail ponds that no one sees as they typically head down the trail to cast in the river. No, I didn't try to walk across the swamp

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Not technically a suspended rock but still...

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Not to worry, the sun did shine in between rain showers

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
But what about that cable to nowhere, you ask

I drove a half mile past where I'd last seen that cable snaking through the trees but didn't see an obvious terminus, like a house or box. Finally I came up on a pullout which led to a roughly graded road

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From there I walked back towards Cold Spring stalking the wily phone cable and, sure enough

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It snaked its way through the trees. I still didn't know where it was ultimately going

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But quite a ways on the roughly plowed road led to a graded elevated property that looked like it might have been the start of some planned residential development, back there in the trees

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which was a lot of dam work getting the project this far. Land needing to be bought, permits acquired, labor hired, all those trees and rocks removed and put somewhere. But where was the cable?

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Apparently this is underground phone cable run on top of the ground, no need to bury it at this point because it's temporary, even though it might have been run 20 years ago

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Things got chaotic with this cable as it was cut here, cut there, cut ends sticking up and laying around, pieces here and there. Sometimes it was two cables running side by side through the trees

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Eventually the rough road ended at the main paved road. And all cable progress, at least as far as I was willing to ascertain, ended at this box

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This is a US West-labled utility box and they haven't been US West in maybe twenty years (they turned into Qwest and now Century Link)

Many reasons why this project was seemingly abandoned: the developers ran out of time or money or both, maybe a permit problem arose and it just wasn't worth it, or maybe the project has just been postponed and a couple of houses will eventually be built. As a former house builder I can picture all the work needed for that to happen and it's not insignificant given the labor shortages these days and short building season up there

Maybe the developer ran this temporary phone cable to be able to communicate with subs and whatnot back in the day of no cell coverage

But what about where this errant cable started? I went back down to Cold Spring and worked backwards

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There it was in the grass

And, incredibly, they ran it right through the spring. I tried to do the math about the viability of an underground rated cable totally underwater or, for that matter, above ground being bombarded by the intense UV at altitude. But since I don't know anything about it my brain finally exploded with the effort

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It ran up the other side towards the Cold Spring entry road which they had undergrounded towards a utility box on the other side

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It might have kept going underground or otherwise from that point but I was done with cable exploration
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Last day, headed back. The resident deer in Taylor Canyon have impeccable timing. They seem to be able to dart across the road and never get hit. I've never seen any deer road kill there, the drivers on this road are well aware of their presence and slow down accordingly

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My short trips lately have consisted of two days of sunshine then clouds and rain the last two. Lots of misty clouds hanging low on the way up to Cottonwood Pass

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Up into the cloud layer at around 12,000'

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Cottonwood Pass, I believe, is now the highest paved pass in the US of A at around 12,200' or so

Cresting the pass and looking east towards Buena Vista...is that sunlight I see?

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I used to avoid 285 in both directions back in the day when it seemed the entire stretch from Denver to BV was under construction. Eastbound now isn't bad at all, westbound is no bargain but I've been going home on 285 the last few trips. The views are sure different than on I-70

South Park ahead

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm working on other projects but still go back and check out my CB7 stuff. Here's a few more, of this and that

Morning coffee after the rain, in the forest, at Rosy Lane

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Here's the hiking across from Rosy Lane. If a guy really really wanted to get to the top, well good luck

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As I've said before, the river is wheelchair accessible from the campground

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There's pullouts along this paved path. Usually there are folks here just gazing and listening to the river. Earlier in the year this rock is under water

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On the way up to Taylor Park, horses hanging out in this field on this early sunrise

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Typically the lots the houses in Taylor Canyon are built on are pretty small. Not so this homeowner's property. I've always wanted to get inside this guy's estate and be the real estate shooter that I am at times

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