Blue Mesa and Kebler-Ohio Passes

Blue Mesa at sunset

Blue Mesa is a large reservoir past Gunnison on the way to Montrose. I hadn’t really thought of it as a water-skiing alternative to our local Ruedi (30 minutes from Basalt) or the staple Lake Powell (5 hours from Basalt) but if you drive over Kebler Pass then turn onto Ohio Pass about 7 miles before reaching Crested Butte it is only 2.5 hours from Basalt which is ok for a weekend trip. And the drive is spectacular! So I was lucky enough to manage three water-skiing trips to Blue Mesa this year and hope to return next summer. Here are some photos of the lake and the drive taken in September and early October.

Castle like mountain seen on Ohio Pass roadKebler Pass in FallKebler pass fall coloursOhio Pass fall colours

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Castle Creek Fall 2015

This year due to all the spring rain in May the fall colours were not quite as spectacular as last year. But they were still good! Here are some photos I took in September on the 20th and the 26th on the Castle Creek road just outside of Aspen.fall up Castle Creekfall castle creekfrom Little Annies trailLittle Annies trail

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The Grottos by Aspen

The Grottos are right on Highway 82 as you go over Independence Pass. You can park at the day use area where there are some picnic tables (and restrooms) then walk around over the usual rock formations which look sort of like the rocks melted – unique to this place – and sit by the Cascade waterfall. The Roaring Fork river comes down through here on its way to Aspen about 15 minutes drive away. I took two of these pictures in June with exceptionally high runoff – very spectacular, and then the other two in September – calm and peaceful…

Grottos in JuneGrottos cascades in JuneGrottos in SeptemberRoaring Fork at Grottos

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Capitol Lake and Capitol Pass

Last year when I hiked past Capitol Lake to Capitol Pass I made a promise to myself to do it again this year. So today was the day! The weather was perfect and I made it to the trailhead by 9:45am to give myself enough time without feeling rushed. The steep part of the road to the trailhead was quite rutted this year so I put my Jeep into 4 Lo for the first time on this road. That made it much easier. I was very surprised to see a Prius at the trailhead! By now there were not many wildflowers left and the wild raspberries were all gone but it was soooooooo pretty! I only saw one other person and not until I got to the lake. Then we watched two groups descending from the knife-edge ridge that leads to Capitol Peak. I went ahead to the Pass which was every bit as stunning as I remembered. This whole hike always makes me think of my Grandma’s favourite hymn “How Great Thou Art”. The scale is of such grandeur it is literally breathtaking. This year I went a little bit further down the steep descent hoping to find a connection to the trail that leads to K2 but decided to turn around after 5 minutes due to how steep it was. I arrived back at the trailhead at 5pm – 6 hours round trip to the Lake with an extra hour to the Pass and back – perfect 🙂 The last photo below looking back at the Lake from the Pass shows Mt. Daly in the middle of the picture.

Capitol Peak seen from the Ditch TrailCapitol Lake looking towards Capitol PassFrom Capitol Pass looking back at Capitol Lake

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JAS – Jazz Aspen Snowmass

With Lenny Kravitz! We volunteered for JAS June festival to get tickets to the September Labor Day Lenny Kravitz (me) and The Fray (my daughter). It turned out to be a busy weekend. There was a big farewell to Blue Mesa party on Saturday so we drove over for that and some water-skiing then back on Sunday when I showed some property then went to the concert! I love that we can do all that from here 🙂

JAS Lenny Kravitz

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Theatre in the open at Aspen

One of the many things I love about living here is the odd and quirky events that happen from time to time. A local writer wrote a play about Greek tragedies and made it really funny. It was performed free next to the Roaring Fork River in Aspen right by the John Denver Sanctuary. We loved it!

The stageTheatre in the open at Aspen

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A Sand Mandala and the Crystal Mill

Every couple of years there is a cool private festival called Marblestock held near the charming town of Marble which is about a 45 minute drive from Carbondale or about an hour from Basalt. Marble is known for the beautiful white marble that comes from the quarry. There is an annual marble symposium where one can learn to sculpt marble in the forest and by coincidence this was also being held this week. On the way to Marble we stopped in Carbondale to see the Sand Mandala being crafted by monks. So intricate; it seems like a shame to destroy it. We saw it the day before the monks swept up the sand to put some in bags for people and the rest into the river to symbolise impermanence of worldly things. I almost felt like the act of taking a photo conflicted with that goal but they said it was ok 🙂 While in Marble we went out to the Crystal Mill. This road seemed to have fallen into much more disrepair than I remembered! I decided to park and we walked the last three miles. If you want to go I would recommend going with one of the local 4WD tours!

Sand MandalaCrystal Mill

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Avalanche Creek on my Birthday :)

Avalanche Creek is such a lovely hike when there is still snow at higher elevations. My daughter volunteered to hike a ways with me on my birthday – so pretty and peaceful, This trail is only about 10 miles up HWY 133 from Carbondale. There is a lake but I think it is about 11 miles from the trailhead so not doable for a day hike. We like to just hike as far as we feel like then turn around. On the way in you will pass an alabaster quarry where inside a sculptor is carving a huge eagle from the wall literally inside the base of Mt Sopris. I have not seen it though as it has never been open when I have been driving by but I like to know that it’s there…

Avalanche Creek

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Still snow on Independence Pass

Driving to Denver via Independence Pass I was surprised to see how much snow there still is in mid July… all that rain this last May will make for a pretty summer 🙂

Independence Pass

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Thomas Lakes 2015

Due to a really wet May I was hoping to find my favourite wildflower (pink long stemmed avens) in full bloom en route to the Lakes. Interestingly they were in a very early stage and not very pretty but it was intriguing to see them that early. The rest of the wildflowers were stunning! Thomas Lakes is so accessible from Basalt; the trailhead is about a 30 minute drive and although I like to have a high clearance vehicle many people do drive 2WD cars carefully up to the parking area.

Wildflowers on the Thomas Lakes TrailMt Sopris seen on Thomas Lakes TrailThomas Lakes

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