Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Lake, A Waterfall, Fireworks and Traffic

I was going to do a post yesterday on the 4th of July - but we were doing too much and having too much fun.  So - I decided the heck with it.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny but with the weather forecast saying that there was a really good chance of rain and thundershowers for later in the day.  Given that we got the day off to an early start.  First things were first as I wanted to get Lexie out for a good long walk.  Given our plans for the day included spending a bunch of time in Breckenridge, I decided I couldn't take him with us for our hike.
So we got Lex out for an early morning walk along our typical "mile-long loop".  The "mile-long loop" is actually a 1.4 mile walk on which we take the dogs.  There are a variety of paths carved through the forest behind our condo.  None of these are "official" US Forest Service paths, but they are still very good places to go and walk the dogs - in this case dog.  
Given the amount of snow and cool temperatures this summer, there are huge variety of wildflowers still in bloom in the forest.  This section of the forest in which we were walking had a huge number of Columbines growing in it.  They were absolutely beautiful, so I stopped and took as many pictures of them as I could.
After getting Lex all tired out and then settled back at the condo, we headed out for our hike.  Our destination with this hike was the Mohawk Lakes area to the south of Breckenridge.  Unfortunately to get there we had to go through downtown Breckenridge which was utterly clogged with traffic.  After enduring the traffic for about 25 minutes we finally made to the south of Breckenridge on Colorado Route 9.  We followed CO Rt 9 for about 3 miles until we reached a turnoff for Spruce Creek Road.  This road, though it has a name, is really just a dirt road heading into the forest.
The first 2 miles of the road were actually pretty good for a dirty road.  There was no washboard bumps or major holes - so it was good.  After these 2 miles the road essentially ceased to exist and it became a 4x4 path.  The ride was very rough and I was definitely holding onto the steering wheel very tightly.  I put the car down into 4 wheel drive high mode and just went for it.  We bounced along for another 1.5 miles until we finally came to a point that I just didn't want to go past.  It was obvious that many other people felt the same way as there were about 10 other 4x4's parked there.  
We set out walking up the 4x4 track that would take us to the trail head.  We had stopped about 1/2 mile before the trail head.  As we walked the road got progressively worse.  By the time we reach the actual trail head, the only vehicles that were parked there were high-clearance, modified 4x4's.  There was no way a regular 4x4 like our Explorer would have made it that far.
The hike starts with a steep upward climb following "Spruce Creek".  This creek feeds the numerous lakes that make up the Mohawk lake area.  Additionally, the creek is feeds the dramatic Continental Falls that dominate this area of the forest.
As we hiked we passed numerous old and decaying log cabins.  There were numerous gold and silver mines around the Mohawk lakes in the late 1890's and 1900's.  Evidence of the mines themselves can be seen at various points, though typically the only thing that remains of the mines are the piles of rock and soil dug out from them.  
After hiking for about 1 mile we came to the smallest of the lakes in the area - Mayflower lake.  This lake is found at the bottom a huge drainage area from the mountains above.  Though small in size it is beautiful!
We spent a bunch of time hanging out at this lake before we moved forward to the Continental Falls.  Unfortunately as we walked the sky was beginning to cloud over.  As we neared the Continental Falls we came across another set of cabins.  One of the cabins has been kept up or restored and looked to be in good shape.  I am not sure who uses it for what - but it looked like it could actually safely shelter a number of people.
After this cabins we climbed a series of rock ledges until we reached a point where we had a wonderful view of a lower section of the falls.  The viewpoint was relatively scary at places as one false slip would send you tumbling downward 20 feet into the raging water.
As we began to look for the next point to climb up to, the sky was becoming even more ominous.  So we made the decision that it was time to go back.  Though we were disappointed we weren't going to see the higher lakes, we left the Mohawk lakes feeling a sense of accomplishment.  I know Zack and I will go back there and explore the rest of the area.
After our hike we headed back into Breckenridge where we got some lunch while the storm broke over our heads.  The rain came down in a very serious manner and I was very glad that we had not been caught out in the open during the downpour.  
The afternoon was spent hanging out in the condo - I took another 2 hour nap!  We watched the rain come down and were glad that we were out in it as it got very cold.  Unfortunately, I had to take Lex out for his afternoon walk in the rain.  All I can say is - thank god for Gortex!
Our plan for the evening was to go and watch the Frisco fireworks over Lake Dillon.  We made sure we got to our chosen viewpoint about an hour before the fireworks started.  Over the years I have come to find the best viewpoint is from the Frisco scenic overlook off of I-70.  Many people in the area feel the same way and the overlook is usually packed full.  It was very cold in the mountains last night and we froze our butts off as we sat there waiting.  (The temperature in the Explorer said it was 43 degrees at the end of the fireworks.)   Zack actually sat on my lap most of the time with a blank draped over us to keep us warm.  I think regardless of what we did we would have ended up freezing our butts off.
We headed back to the condo after that and spent some time hanging out before it was time for Zack to go to bed.  I of course stayed up late as I always do!
This morning once again dawned bright and sunny but with the same weather forecast - rain in the afternoon.  I spent a bunch of time clearing up the condo and then we headed out and took Lex for another really long walk.  I wanted to get him good and tired before he headed down the mountain.  We got some lunch at Ruby Tuesday's in Dillon, went back to the condo and got Lex and then headed out to I-70.  Of course as you might imagine - I-70 was a parking lot as it usually is on busy summer weekends like this one.
Even taking all the short cuts I know through Bakersville, Georgetown and Dumont, it still took us 2.5 hours to get home.  Normally it takes us about 1.25 hours to get home.  Oh well - Zack and I had an enjoyable trip down except when he was puking.  Yes - that's right - puking.  From the time we got into the car in Silverthorne Zack was saying his stomach was upset.  Thankfully we stopped in Georgetown to get him something to drink and he promptly threw up in the parking lot of the convenience store.  Not sure what is causing him to have stomach issues over the last month or so, but I tend to think it is because he is slowly getting off his anti-anxiety medication.  As you reduce the dosage of this medication it has the tendency to make you feel nauseous and sick.  With any luck he will be totally off this medication in another week or two and we won't have to deal with this any longer.
Once we got home he continued to feel ill and has thrown up 2 more times.  Right now he is feeling better and I am hoping he stays this way for the rest of the night and into tomorrow.
We hope everyone had a great 4th of July long weekend.  Now it is back to work as usual tomorrow....  : - )
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

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