I’ve been looking forward to a road trip to Little Squaw and Crested Butte all summer. I missed out last year because I spent time in California and the day before this trip I was sick as a dog but it was well worth dragging my arse out of bed.
For the first part of the trip, Eric had the keys to his new employers lodge which sleeps over 100!!!! The gorgeous Nikki joined us and the three of us made a huge fire, drank a huge amount of scotch, talked a huge amount of BS and had huge hangovers the next day.
Nobody was rushing the next morning so I setup my office. Hair of the dog…. my head hurt so bad I forgot about my cold.
And we played with some humming birds.
Eric and Nikki headed off to breakfast, and I was off to Little Squaw. Brielle’s family has owned Little Squaw for 3 generations and it is a wonderful piece of property surrounded by water and mountains and filled with a great crew of people.
On arrival, I was handed a fly fishing rod. My waders are back in New Zealand. Go figure, I’m the only person in Summit County who doesn’t smoke weed and I wear Bob Marley shorts.
I’m not much of a fisherman, so I joined Kim in the role of a ‘back seat fisherman’. I think we are laughing because someone told a ‘fart in your waders joke’.
Rith is a real fisherman and every day he caught more trout than we could eat.
I had a chance to do a little bit of work so I setup my office. I can’t believe the wildlife that is here in Colorado during summer. There is always something moving around.
Perhaps Brielle (Chris’s better half) was worried there was something between Chris and me, so I was sent off to my own cabin. By now I was getting the hang of making fires.
This is the first time I’ve been down to Little Squaw where it was warm enough to get wet. It was still ruddy cold (scientific term is nippilus erectus) but I got to have my first ever white water experience. Grand Canyon here I come!!!
Then it was off to Rob and Nancy’s in Crested Butte. One of the things I was looking forward to on this trip was the drive over to Lake City. Arthur’s Pass in NZ is gorgeous, Kamloops to Banff is gorgeous and this drive is up there.
Clear Creek Falls which I had all to myself. My selfies would be better if I wasn’t in them – hahaha.
And the waterfall from above.
Lake San Cristobal.
Last time I drove through Lake City I didn’t know the story of Alferd Packer (yes it is spelt Alferd). In 1874 he was on a mining expedition and he ate all 5 of his mining mates. The judge that sentenced Packer to 40yrs made the comment “There are 7 Democrats in this county and you’ve gone an eaten 5 of them.” From all the Texan number plates here, Democrats are still rare in these parts….
This is the site where the bodies were found….
Then I arrived in Crested Butte…. I setup my office again……
Rob and Nancy are old mates from Queenstown and I’ve had some wonderful hikes with Nancy over the last decade (Lake Rere is my favourite). My visit started with a hike through their backyard.
Unlike the earlier part of the trip, there was little to no alcohol consumption…. the reason, Rob takes me dirt biking and I return from these rides more beat up than an NFL players missus.
Jokes aside, Rob has been very patient with me. My nightmares of riding with him aren’t his fault – hahaha.
Our first ride was a wee 40 mile jaunt up high looking out towards Aspen.
My bike broke down on the way home. Pretty place to break down…….
I was able to fix the problem, surprised the hell out of me, and we made good enough time to make our tee time at Dos Rios Country Club.
This is one of my favourite golf courses, it crosses the Rio Grande River a dozen times or more and has 4 holes with double water carries. Old Tom joined us and nobody was spared some ribbing.
Old Tom joined us the next day as we played the Devil’s Thumb. It was the best course in Colorado, according to the greens keepers Mum, for a few years. I think it was Golf Digest.
Again, wildlife everywhere. This time antelope.
This antelope is pretty smart, he is standing in the safest spot possible…. the middle of the fairway.
The last time I was hanging out with Rob I raised the idea of riding into the Crystal Mill. Rob wasn’t too keen back then so I drove around the long way which resulted in debauchery starting with nude midnight swimming at the Redstone Castle….. (click here to read that old post).
This trip, Rob thought a ride through the back roads was possible since my riding should have improved in the last 2 years.. My riding hasn’t improved but I was super excited about this mission which turned into 8 hours and 90 miles of me being terrified.
Let me start with the objective….. the old Crystal Mill. I’m lucky enough to spend some time in some really pretty places, the Crystal Mill, and the whole valley is a really, really pretty place.
Our plan was to ride from Crested Butte, past the Crystal Mill, have lunch in Marble (which is where a lot of the marble in DC is from including the Lincoln Memorial), then ride home.
Rob asked some of his Texan neighbors to join us. Stuart and Bob.
I was thinking that adding a couple more old guys into the mix would help my confidence. They are all double my age. Instead, now I had 3 old guys kicking my arse. These guys were great and helped me out a bunch. Very cool.
Most of the ride was just lovely and well within my ability.
Then we had to descend the Devil’s Punchbowl….
I have been told not to take Black Betty (my truck) down there but I figured taking a dirt bike would be no troubles at all.
I barely even acknowledged this warning sign…. those things are just for the tourists and I’m on a dirt bike.
The Devil’s Punchbowl has a reputation as one of, I’d argue to most, dangerous road in Colorado. I haven’t seen anything half as nasty. In July 1970, 9 people died in a single day with one of the bodies never being found. Urban legend has it that 20 people have died there since. Wikipedia has the death toll at 12.
Turns out, this was beyond my riding ability.
Here is a motorbike that we think went off while we were having lunch…. so the road was beyond someone else’s ability as well.
When I crashed, I was 20 yards higher up which was a little bit wider. Completely blew my confidence (as well as my knee). Rob helped me out and rode the bike down.
Lunch was fantastic, BBQ of course being an ‘American’ kind of day (9/11). After not drinking because I wanted to be sharp I had a couple of Bourbon’s to numb the pain and gain some courage for going back up the Devil’s Punchbowl.
Here is a short video of Bob going up. Bob rides motocross and is awesome. When I filmed this, I had stopped on a relatively flat spot and I was pumping myself up for an attempt…..
With my skirt on, I walked up and Rob rode my bike up for me. Grrrrrr….. I’m not happy I pussied out.
The photo below was a social media joke claiming that Rob got in trouble for riding too fast…. he does ride way too fast. This was just Rob dealing with the bike that did go off the Devil’s Punchbowl that day.
Surrounded by old mates (and some new ones) for 8 days was even better than I had hoped. Thanks guys.