My Journey

In Placerville, Colorado we took a right at the intersection and headed back in a northwesterly direction driving along Highway 141.....we made a stop in Norwood, Colorado and this is where I met the aforementioned field biologist.....she was a wealth of fantastic information.....told me where to find the sheep & the elk, and told me of lots of other interesting stuff as well....but the Cottonwood Cave & Tabeguache Cave.....nope.....never heard of them.....

We spent the night outside of Nuturita, Colorado along the right-of-way of Highway 141.....

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The following morning we pulled into Nucla, Colorado (2019 population 644) to find out what we could find.....

The streets were mostly empty at this time of day (probably are always empty) but I did see two women walking into a hair salon. I followed them in and picked their brains.....yes they said that they knew of the Tabeguache Cave and gave me directions but they seemed unsure.....

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So I headed over to the Trading Post, which by the way is where you purchase your Rim Rocker Trail souvenirs, to find out what I could find. It was a "nope, never heard of those caves".....

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Next up was the Co-Op where I was able to question at least a half dozen people.....and finally one guy says "yep, I know them". He said Cottonwood Cave was too difficult to find but he gave me directions to Tabeguache Cave (which of course were different from the salon owners directions).....

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The road passed through beautiful ranches and wide open range land.....

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Eventually the road dropped down into a canyon.....

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.....and crossed over a bridge (oddly a bridge was never mentioned in either's directions).....

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Beyond the bridge we came to a hairpin turn..... both of my sources said to park at the hairpin turn.....but was this the hairpin turn that they spoke of ? Soon enough I would know the answer.....

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tgil

Active member
How did you like Ridgway? I've stayed in both Ouray and Silverton, but have heard Ridgway is a good choice also? Supposed to be some good eats there, maybe?
 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Glad to see you enjoying “my back yard”. But disappointed you didn’t care for the Black Canyon. I’ve been there a few times, both sides. The depth and very near vertical canyon walls real grab me. I’ve been known to snuggle down in the rocks and just stare and listen to the grand silence. Usually nothing to hear except a few ravens and canyon wrens. At least on the north rim in the off season.

Ridgway has been discovered. It’s on its way to being “aspenized”. But it’s still a cool town with several good eateries. It’s claim to fame is that much of the original True Grit was filmed there. The iconic scene where John Wayne yells “fill your mitts you son of a **********” to Ned was filmed in a meadow up near Owl Creek Pass.

Ace


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tgil.....what Ace said.....Ouray I like best of the three towns you mentioned.....

Arjan.....thanks for taking the time to comment.....

Ace.....it's certainly a beautiful place but I guess I just struggled to figure out how to enjoy it. I'd read (and actually passed by it) that there's a trail down to the river. I would have loved to have hiked down it but it just wasn't in the cards for us that day.....



A passage from The Lost World of the Old Ones by David Roberts.....

"Gazing around me, I pictured Dine men planting the seeds that they had gathered the previous fall. I saw sheep grazing on the tall bunch grass that greened the sandy benches. I imagined women, huddled in that nearby alcove before a smokeless fire, weaving robes from skeins of wool, and a hunter coming over that brow of a hill from the north with a fresh-killed deer slung over his shoulders, or slipping away with the three or four men he trusted to get more silver from his perfect vein."

My sources said that there would be a wire fence with a gate at the hairpin turn....."you're fine to go through it".....there was no gate here.....

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I decided what the heck.....worst case scenario is that we would explore another unknown to us canyon.....

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We hadn't hiked far at all and as I scanned the canyon walls I spotted a cave in the distance.....

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Eventually we came onto an obvious seldom used trail which meandered through the dense brush.....

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This cave was super cool.....blackened ceilings & rock art.....

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The passage that I quoted from David Roberts inThe Lost World of the Old Ones very much describes my thoughts at that time.....

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.....as I viewed the canyon floor and beyond from up above.....

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We hiked along the back roads.....

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.....maybe just to stretch the legs a bit more.....or maybe to get more in touch with the Old Ones or Ancient Ones as I now affectionately call them.....

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Eventually we would return to the Jeep.....

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Tanner by far way ahead of us.....poor Trapper still burdened with the leash.....

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We passed back through the wonderful ranches.....

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.....and found ourselves a spot in the open range.....

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.....and watched another day on the road come to it's end.....

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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
The backroads you drove in the vicinity of the cave look like the Rimrocker Trail. I’ve done the RRT a few times. It would be good to know if that cave is along the route. By the way there is a gate in your photo. It’s just a typical wire gate laying on the ground.

That “smokeless fire” narrative caught my attention. I wonder if the old ones knew a special technique. No matter how dry the wood, or carefully fed, I’ve never achieved a truly smokeless fire.

While you’re in the area you may want to ponder the mystery of the Paradox Valley.


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Jgaz.....I've read one of his books years ago (Over the Edge ) and I've got another one in the camper right now. He was good friends with David Roberts and the two of them often climbed & explored together. His name is brought up often in The Search for the Old Ones. That's a nice panel in your photograph.....I'll be posting a bunch more photographs of rock art (probably too many) as that's what I'm up to now.....

Ace.....that cave is not along the Rim Rocker Trail but it is somewhat in the vicinity (Nucla, Colorado). I'll PM directions if you want to go there.....just let me know. Funny you saw that wire gate laying there.....I completely missed it.....lucky it wasn't a snake I guess. And of course, and no surprise to you, we are long gone from the area.....

kwill.....looks like a place that I shouldn't be (with my rig anyhow).....probably why Ace messaged me with this....."Surprised BLM sent you over 90. That’s probably snowy and muddy. Be careful over there. Those dirt roads can get very slick.".....



Now that we had successfully found & explored one of the two caves, I thought it was now time to visit Moab, Utah (I'm in need of a new baseball cap and there's a store in that town with some good ones).....but the following morning, thinking about some of those places that the field biologist had told me about.....well, we switched gears and instead of driving west, we drove south down & through Slickrock, Colorado (pretty cool rocks and beautiful valleys along Highway 141). At this point we're just wandering, eventually found ourselves driving east on Highway 491 towards Cortez, Colorado, saw a sign, thought what the heck, took a left turn and off we went.....

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So here we were along the banks of The River of Sorrows.....more commonly known as the Delores River.....

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It was real pretty down in this valley so we then decided to take a hike along the banks of The River of Sorrows.....

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We spotted a red fox having a leisurely cool drink from the partially frozen river's waters.....he thrust up his bushy white tipped tail and darted into the tall brush.....that was the day's treat.....

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It was difficult hiking here.....the brush along the river was thick & tall.....

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Once I was sufficiently sick of wandering through that thick brush, we unhooked the Jeep and took the gravel road which paralled the rivers bank.....

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If it weren't for all the big ass logging trucks and the hunters, well.....the number of hunters here was unbelievable.....hard to believe there weren't at least a few accidental shootings & deaths of people that day.....

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The clouds of the early morning began to drift to the east and it turned out to be a sensational weather day.....just a great day to be out in the Jeep exploring.....

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I don't recall the length of that dead end road (it ended at a man made dam.....damn, I sure do hate those man made dams.....just ruins a beautiful river).....

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Lots of great rock formations along the way.....this one sure caught my attention.....

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It was late in the afternoon when we left behind The River of Sorrows and climbed the steep road up into the San Juan National Forest.....

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We picked our spot for the night high above the river.....

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.....and the night was good.....

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JD.....so beautiful.....



Just a quick post this morning to say thank you to the mayor of Cortez, Colorado. Yesterday the odometer on the Jeep was acting up once again, as it often does (that means it wasn't working). Mayor Mike was stopped along the dirt road and I asked if they could lead me to the trailhead (3.1 miles up that dirt road). After a real nice conversation they took me to my daily dose of heaven.....

Thank you to Mayor Mike & your lovely wife.....

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Next up was a visit to McPhee Reservoir.....

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I decided to stick with the dirt & gravel back roads of the San Juan National Forest.....

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It was a cold day out there and snow flurries fell quite often.....

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We arrived at McPhee Reservoir and parked in the campground and I gave thought to spending a night here.....but I felt a bad attitude coming back to me.....just looking at that man made lake that destroyed a beautiful river.....I just wasn't liking it here.....

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We left late in the afternoon and actually chose to spend that night in a Walmart parking lot in Cortez, Colorado.....the following day we moved southwest.....made a stop at what might be the weirdest national monument in the U.S. where we drove up someone's driveway and parked between their house & barn.....here we saw piles of dirt covered with shrubs......quickly we were gone & back on the road.....

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.....leaving Colorado behind.....

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After that night spent in a Walmart parking lot, I was looking forward to our next stop.....back into the wild.....

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Recapture Point was next on the to do list.....this too was just another overnight spot.....

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We walked along the sandy roads in the evening and walked those sandy roads once again in the morning.....we watched the sun set & we watched the moon set.....silence is what stands out at this place.....absent of people & absent of noise.....we left here that day in great anticipation of what may lay ahead.....

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Now time for a couple of book reviews.....two more good ones.....as the reading of books has been a large part of this trip.....

By the Grace of the Sea by Pat Henry was a good one. This book has been in the camper for several years at least.....I picked this up at a used book sale in Oregon some years ago.....with my continuing fascination with a life at sea.....this one spoke to me.....

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Escalantes Dream by David Roberts was another great (actually incredible) read. The author ties in his younger days.....14 years of first ascents while climbing in Alaska, with his current battle with cancer (he succumbed to that cancer in August, 2021 after a six year battle) while writing & researching this book, as he follows the trail of Dominquez & Escalante. Reading this book while traveling in some of the same places that he writes about made me feel like I was right there in that book.....just loved every page that I read.....

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