Other October 2020 Adventures

October 16-18

Wildfires around Estes Park were still burning, so we spent more time in Summit County this extended fire season. The Cameron Peak Fire to the north was already uncomfortably visible from our backyard. 

View to the north from our house on Oct 16, 2020; Cameron Peak Fire

Looking down at Estes Park on October 16th, with fires to the north
(photo courtesy of Arthur Messal)

The situation would worsen in a few days when Grand County’s East Troublesome fire spotted over the Continental Divide, threatening Estes Park in earnest. The East Troublesome fire became Colorado's 2nd largest fire at over 198,000 acres. It wasn't contained until Nov 30th, killed two people, and destroyed 580 structures. 

Map of East Troublesome Fire, Oct 23, 2020.
The red shaded area at upper right was only a few miles from Estes Park.

Estes Valley residents were under a mandatory evacuation for several days, but we left town a week earlier, after doing some fire mitigation work in our yard. This was the first time the entire Estes Valley had ever been totally evacuated.

Aerial view of the East Troublesome Fire (photo from reddit\Denver)

Just in case, on October 18th, we drove both our vehicles and brought important documents with us to Dillon. The day we headed south on the Peak to Peak Highway, yet another fire -- the Calwood Fire --  sprung up west of Boulder causing low visibility. Boy, were we glad to find blue skies when we got to Dillon!

October 20

Earlier this year we did a lot of new off-roading routes in Summit County, but hadn’t yet been up to Williams Peak Road near Heeney (FunTreks Trail #51). The most interesting part of the trip this time was seeing the distant fires burning. At first we believed we were seeing the Williams Fork fire, but later realized that it was actually the explosion of the East Troublesome fire.

Mike opening the gate to the Williams Peak trail, just off Colorado Highway 9

Looking back down the Williams Peak trail

Looking down on Green Mountain Reservoir from the Williams Peak trail (FS 200)

East Troublesome Fire, viewed from below Williams Peak

October 21

The next day we popped over to Loveland Pass and hiked around Loveland Pass Lake. We’ll have to go back in the winter and enjoy the easy access to high alpine terrain on our snowshoes.

Loveland Pass Lakes

Loveland Pass Lakes, looking mostly south; Arapahoe Basin Ski Area at far right

The off-roading season would soon be over, so afterward we took advantage of the warmish weather and drove back up to Webster Pass, one of our favorite routes from the previous summer. Several really fun off-road trails start near Montezuma, a small village a little east of Keystone. 

The main "street" in Montezuma, on the way to Webster Pass

View from Webster Pass of the valley we came up; East Troublesome Fire in the distance

Webster Pass is right on the Continental Divide. We hiked up from the car a little ways up along the Divide. Rather than drive over the Pass and down Handcart Gulch, we went back to Montezuma the way we came up. 

Webster Pass, looking at trail coming down from Red Cone

Looking southeast from Webster Pass

November 1

Sure enough, we had snow a few days later, closing the off-road trails for the season. But we squeezed in one more bike ride by driving to Glenwood Springs and biking the Rio Grande Trail south to a little past Carbondale. Our ride was a bit over 26 beautiful miles round trip. 

Mike on the Rio Grande bike trail, just south of Glenwood Springs along the Roaring Fork River

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