Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gore Range and Happenings on Wednesday

Yesterday I wrote about Red Buffalo Pass which is located in the Gore Range of the Rocky Mountains. Today I figured I would write a little bit about the Gore Range. There are many “ranges” that make up the Rocky Mountains. According to Wikipedia, “a range is a chain of mountains bordered by highlands or separated from other mountains by passes or valleys. Individual mountains within the same mountain range do not necessarily have the same geology, though they often do.” Here in Colorado you will frequently hear about a number of different ranges. Some of these ranges are: the Front Range, the Elkheads, the Wet Mountains, the Sangre de Cristo, the San Juans, the Mosquito Range, etc. The weather forecasters here in Denver frequently refer to these mountains ranges to describe what sections of the state are going to receive snow storms or rain showers. The Gore Range runs for about 60 miles from the northwest to the southeast. The northern most point of the Gore Range starts at I-70 near Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco and Copper Mountain. The topology of the Gore Range looks very different than the typical mountain range in Colorado. Many of the mountains are very sharp and jagged with long ridges running between the peaks. There are no 14,000 foot mountains in this range. The tallest peak in the Gore Range is Mount Powell at 13,566 feet. Above: The Gore Range from Ute Pass Many of the tallest peaks in the Gore Range are not easily accessible. Most of these peaks are not even named and are represented on topo maps simply as “Peak A”, “Peak B”, “Peak C”, etc. To reach the highest peaks requires lengthy hikes as there are no roads or 4x4 tracks that traverse the range. Due to this, the mountains of the Gore Range are often lonely, desolate places that are infrequently visited by people. There are even reported to be some peaks in the Gore Range that have never been climbed/hiked by people before. The geology of the Gore Range also separates it from many of the other mountain ranges in Colorado. The geology of this range is described in the following manner on the website SummitPost.Org. “Geologicaly the Gore Range is a fault-block mountain range. Similiar to the Sangre de Cristos of Colorado and the Tetons of Wyoming in that these ranges are bounded by faults that broke and shifted, thrusting up the mountains while downdropping the valleys. Although the rock is similiar to the Idaho Springs Formation of the Front Range, the rugged Gore's contrasting orogensis makes these mountains look quite different from the glaciated folded anticline that makes up the Front Range. Glaciers played an even more extensive role in carving the cirques and spires that abound in the Gores compared to adjacent ranges. Many of the drainages are choked by large terminal moraines at their lower reaches and cut by successive headwalls higher up. Many headwalls are graced with gorgeous waterfalls. The most dramatic summits and aretes are often located at the head of multiple glacial cirques.” Our “mountain house” is located on the flank of one of most prominent of the mountains that make up the Gore Range. Buffalo Mountain is on the northern most part of the Gore Range. This humped back mountain is a familiar feature to anyone who frequently travels I-70 through the mountains. Its appearance does make one think of the hump on the back of a buffalo. The mountain is huge with flanks that spread out for miles on every side. Our condo is located in the Wildernest sub-division will is built on the northeastern flank of the mountain. Though the highest peaks in the Gore Range are not easily accessible, there are several scenic hikes that are near convenient trail heads. My favorite is the Lower Cataract Lake Trail. This trail winds its way around Lower Cataract Lake. The lake is named this because it is the lower of two lakes are that connected by a stream that flows down hill over a very lengthy in course in what is essentially a waterfall. The connecting stream between the two lakes is probably 2 – 3 miles long and the majority of its run is over waterfalls and cataracts. As soon as you arrive at the Lower Cataract Trail Head you can hear the waterfalls. The sound of these waterfalls fills the entire valley within which the lake is located. The lake is beautiful and the water is freezing and crystal clear. There is a wooden picnic table situated right near the lake for afternoon picnics over looking the water. The trail around the lake is a good trail and for the most part keeps you out of the “swampy” zone at the edge of the lake. Once you are half way around the lake you come to the place where the stream empties into it. The water pours down over countless small waterfalls in the midst of a heavily wooded glade. There is split wood beam bridge that crosses over the stream. It is a great place to hang out and take pictures or just a place to watch the water and enjoy the solitude.
Above: Lower Cataract Lake
After crossing the bridge you cross over a series of flat meadows that were obvious once part of the lake but have now silted over. The ground here is covered in a rich thick, deep green grass. As long as the ground is reasonably dry it is a wonderfully soft place to lie down for a nap. After passing through the meadows, the trail ascending a series of steep slopes as the eastern side of the lake shore is made up of a steep cliffs that plunge straight down into the lake. This section of the hike is the only strenuous part, but thankfully after one mile of these slopes you return to the starting point for the trail.

Above: The Cataract that earned Lower Cataract Lake its name.

There are other hikes like this in the Gore Range. Some of them are my favorite hikes and I will be sure to write more about them in future blog postings. The goings on for the day were the same-old, same-old. It was Wednesday so the cleaning ladies - Kathy and Kelly came today so we have a nice clean house. Work has been very strenuous and tough these last couple of days. Zack had a great day at school from what he said. He had tutoring at Sylvan this afternoon. I managed to get out of a walk after I was done with work before the sun went down. We had omelet’s for dinner – egg, ham and cheese with a bunch of cantaloupe. For the rest of the evening we are going to sit around and watch a show we DVR’ed on the History Channel. The show is called “Universe” and covers various topics about outer space. This evening we are going to watch an episode called “Light Speed”.

On another note.... Today was my late wife's birthday. I can't say that it has really effected me. In fact I haven't felt bad at all, as I have remembered the good times we hard. What has been weighing heavily on my mind recently is the situation with a friend. I did said something stupid that has effect our relationship. I wish I could take it back and have things go back to the way they were between us. Til later – thanks and peace to all!

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