Day 21 – Lake Creek to Grand Mesa

Overland Camping Roadtrip Blog

Travel Day 21:

Total km driven to date: 4512km

Total km walked to date: 168.57km

Lake Creek, CO – Grand Mesa National Forest

316km drive

4.42km on foot

                Started my morning off as per my usual routine, feed Axel, feed myself, make coffee and break camp. Turns out I was camped about 10km from Independence Pass which is the continental divide and all downhill from here on out. Wow what a road, I can see why they said no vehicles over 35′ on it, HWY 82 is one to put on your bucket list. From where I was camped at 10,000ft it climbs back and forth up some very tight switchbacks, road is only 30′ wide and no guardrail at all. I stopped for a picture of the camper on the edge, and looked over the lip and saw a….marmot? looking at me so I had to snap a pic of him. The road keeps climbing until a parking area lookout at the top of the pass at 12,095ft, snow on the ground and the wind gusting but amazing 360* views. I was walking around in shorts and t-shirt and sandals and kept seeing everyone getting all bundled up and complaining about how cold it was. A lady commented that I must be cold…..it was 17*. I told her I’m Canadian and this is beach weather, the look on her face was priceless! Back in the truck and downhill until the coast! Another very cool road as it winds down through the canyons towards Aspen. This side has guardrails but in some spots is only single lane, huge boulders line the road in spots, fallen from the mountains towering above. Multiple crazy (I mean inspirational) people on bicycles riding up the road with no shoulder and lots of traffic. I made sure to give them a honk and a big thumbs up, its tiring driving up there, I can’t fathom being on a bike!

                About 1/2hr past the continental divide we arrived in Aspen, beautiful little ski town, reminds me of Whistler except from what I saw the car was king vs Whistler being very much a pedestrian friendly sort of place. The skihills are on your left and on your right is massive chalet after massive chalet up on the hillside. By massive I mean 10-15,000sqft! Driving though town in my floppy jalopy and I hear Katy Perry blasting from someone’s stereo, of course its a guy in his 20’s in a brand new bright red convertible Rolls Royce…headshake in jealousy at a car thats worth as much as my house!

                We continued down Hwy-82 and turned onto Hwy-133, it looks like (by google maps) to be a nicer drive to get to Grand Junction than going up to I-70. The landscape has fully changed, red rocks and small trees instead of pines as we wind though some canyons. We pass a sign saying “next service 61miles” ok we will be pushing it but should be no problem. We travel about 40miles and come to another sign saying “Road Closed 11-4pm for blasting” Fantastic considering its 1pm and we dont have enough fuel to turn around and head back the other way. We pull off at Paonia State park with multiple other people doing the same thing, waiting until 4pm. There was some HUGE bulls wandering on the highway and through the campsite and of course one decided to laydown right beside my truck for a few hours before deciding to move on. Sure enough a cowboy comes by a 1/2hr later asking if we’d seen any bulls since they had broken out! I pointed him in the right direction and the chase was on!    

         

                After 3hrs sitting around (didnt want to go hiking cause there was all sorts of thunder and lightning) we finally headed past where the road was closed. Drove though some intense rain and the highway runs right through a coal mining region, in some places the conveyors run over your head across the highway! Fully out of the mountains now and down to 5600ft the desert is in front of us, goodbye Rockies, hello hot and dry! Made it to Delta, CO and stopped for 2hrs at McD’s to upload the past 5 days worth of blogs and Dirt Riot pictures. Back on the road after 7 and way beyond time to find somewhere to camp, started thinking I was going to have to Wal-Mart it since we were getting awfully close to Grand Junction but at the last minute saw a sign for Grand Mesa Nat Forest, Lands End Road and ended up on a ridge looking over Junction just in time for some sunset photography. Another long day, tomorrow I hope to be in Moab!

 

Day 20 - Fourmile Rec Area to Lake Creek
Day 22 - Grand Mesa to Manti-La Sal Nat Forest

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