9-25-19: The Road to Lizard Lake, Colorado


(A 2012 shot at Lizard Lake)

I’ve been on the road several days now, and finally getting into some good action.

Last night was my first time to camp and sleep in the Summit: the wedge pop-up that I bought for this and future expeditions. Not great photos of it, (I expect to shoot better ones later) but here is one with the top down, at Emerald Lake (details below):
The red panels on the side are MaxTrax: traction panels to get unstuck in mud, sand, or snow.
And one with the top up at another campground:

This setup gives me maximum flexibility for completely independent travel: I can drive the 4 wheel drive “Jeep” trails, equipped for vehicle recovery (getting unstuck) in almost any possible situation (have recovered mine and dozens of other vehicles in years past). It has a comfortable mattress on the sleep platform and full standing room inside for changing clothes, etc. I have food, water, and onboard power (including 124 volts to power the computer and external hard drives) so that I can stop anywhere and camp for several days at a time. I’m always on the move, however, and rarely stop any one place for more than one night.

On the road at first light: I was much closer to Marble than I had thought. Drove to Lizard Lake: it was nice, but very little color change in the area. Here is another shot at Lizard Lake, taken in 2012:

I had hoped for as much color and the opportunity to get some better photos, but there was almost no color yet this year.

Lizard Lake is on the 4.5 mile trail (can hardly be called a road) between the town of Marble and Crystal Mill. (photo from a previous trip):
Did not go all the way to the mill this time: not worth it until there is more color.

The truck on Crystal Creek Rd: Much of the road is as narrow as where the truck is sitting in this photo. (Of course, I would normally stop in the wider place in the foreground, but wanted to show how narrow the path is: I had to face and hold onto the truck in order to get out in front for the photo: there was loose scree and a steep slope with a drop of over 100′.) There is two-way traffic on the road, with wider spots (in the foreground of the photo above) for passing every 200 – 300 yards. The path is barely wide enough for a small truck like mine, and when two vehicles meet head-on, one has to back up to the nearest “wide” spot: a place the requires one truck to be against the mountainside, and the other to have his tires on the very edge of the cliff (with vehicles only a few inches apart). In 2012, I had to back up three times on the drive.

Drove back up to CR133, then South to CR12 – the unpaved road to Crested Butte. A beautiful drive: the largest aspen grove in the US, but very little of it was turning (color) yet. Drove thru a flock of sheep on the road.

I saw a cutoff to Ohio Pass: I should drive this road again next week and check that out too.

Got to Crested Butte and had lunch at the Last Steep. Great food! Talked briefly with the waiter, and he highly recommended the drive to Gothic (CR 314): less than 30 min north of Crested Butte. He said the color was great there over a week ago. It is the back road that would go all the way to Crystal if it were drive able (it can be driven, but is even more difficult and dangerous than the main road described above). I went past Gothic: the area is gorgeous! There was not a cloud in the sky, and there were not a lot of aspen, but enough. I want to be here at last light tonight and in the morning. I was going to drive all the way down 550 to Durango tonight and get a room, but I can’t pass this up.
Went a mile or so past Emerald Lake, then returned.
There’s a small parking area on the north end, (you are looking south in this picture) but the access road is blocked by the remains of an avalanche (packed snow – you can see the white area on the far end of the lake). I scouted a line, then drove across the glacier – about 50 yds, with not problems at all.

Wrote all of the above while sitting in the Summit looking out the window and talking to hikers that passed by.

There was a herd of cows that kept hanging around the truck – one even started to chew on the fender-liner!

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