Furlough Exploration, High Mountain Colorado to the desert of Utah.

NM-Frontier

Explorer


This trip report will be broken in to a few parts: The Alpine Loop (original trip plan) then Canyon of the Ancients, and as the shutdown continued, Lockheart Basin/Moab.

The first part of this trip had been in the making for most of the summer, as soon as fire season was over we'd load op the dog and the Cruiser and try to get in some good quality exploring in the western mountains of Colorado. The goal was to pick up were we left off last year and at least get in the Alpine Loop and some side exploring, all before the snow came in and shut down the passes. This is a classic route that is not really technical or all that remote really, but it is full of amazing scenery in a very unique area. The plan was to leave Silverton, check out Maggie Gulch and Animas Fork, then go East over Cinnamon Pass and in to American Basin. Then hit some pavement to Lake City and turn back to the West to climb Engineer Pass, then take Marble Creek to the North in to Oury. We had planned to do this over three days to allow a slow pace and to see every thing on our list and hopefully new places not on our list.

As fate would have it we had to post pone the trip by a couple of weeks to the first week of October. We knew we would be cutting it close with the weather but we figured we'd just go for it. So as news of the possible government shutdown loomed we packed the truck and hit the road for Colorado. They key to the rest of the trip would be that my girlfriend and I are both employed by different government agencies and neither of us would be able to return to work for weeks instead of just the week we planed. I'll let the pictures tell the first part of our trip:

The Alpine Loop
























The Alpine loop is a fantastic drive. As it turned out we had to cut our nights out on the trail, by one due to a snow storm that came in. So we ran south to Durango to escape some weather and to hear news that we may have more time off then we had planned for, time to hit the maps and come up with the next part of our adventure...:sombrero:
 

roverrocks

Expedition Leader
Real nice pictures especially the one of American Basin with the snow covered jagged ridge in the background.
 

NM-Frontier

Explorer
Part 2: Canyon of the Ancients and in to Utah



So after a day of fun and brewery tours in Durango a plan was made to head west working out to the desert and up to Moab. I had heard good things about Canyon of the Ancients National Monument just west of Cortez. Known for ruins and good scenery, but also managed by the BLM and still open unlike most other monuments and parks. We planed out a route taking us from there up Montezuma Canyon and in to Monticello Utah. This would set us up to eventually take Lockheart Basin Rd near the entrance to Canyonlands, all the way to Moab.
This part of the trip may just be my favorite, due to the fact that every were else we had gone or were going to I had at some point done some research and added to my "List", but here we just picked a road off the map and went with it. We were rewarded with excellent weather, lots of ruins and rock art, and a true seance of exploring since we had know idea how cool of a place we were going to.





























It was funny how we started out looking at homes and art left by a people from a long time ago and as we neared the end of this leg of the trip we found more modern people trying to do the same thing. We could not have planned it better! So with no deal to fund the government in sight we had no choice but to pull out the maps and notes from past trips to Utah and continue towards the sandstone.
 
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NM-Frontier

Explorer
Part 3: Lockheart Basin and Moab



Lockheart Basin Rd is another classic must-do routes in the west, and also one I had not yet done. We had camped a few miles in back in 2011, but this time we wanted to complete the whole road starting at hwy 211 and ending at Kane Creek Rd in Moab. This would be the most technical and difficult trail of the trip but also in many ways the most rewarding due to the vast remoteness and large veiws. We did the trail in two days but should have taken another, just to allow more time to simply look around, but with some clouds building on the second day we played it safe and pushed on through the most technical part of the trail and stayed the night were the road improved, just to avoid any wash outs or damage to the road in case it did really rain.

After fueling up and restocking a few supplies in Monticello we headed out in to canyon country.































After two amazing days on the trail we only saw a hand full of motorcycles and only two trucks in Lockheart Basin proper. We rolled in to Moab and checked the news, looking like we had a few more days, we fueled up and headed out again, this time to do some more local touring around the Moab area...
 
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CRolandLJ

Adventurer
great pictures. I too was there recently but in the summer, the fall makes for completely different scenery. Excited to see the rest. This pic is at Engineer... did you see many other folks up there? We saw a lot of traffic and tons of ATVs in July.

jeep in mountains.jpg
 

NM-Frontier

Explorer
1911 and CRolandLJ,

Its a another world up there in the fall, pretty cool really but I would love to see it all in the spring or summer when its green. We did in see many people on the loop at all, maybe three other trucks and one of those was a county road crew. We did see more at Animas Fork but not on the passes.
 

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