Saturday, September 19, 2020
Fall Cleanup at Barbour Fork with a Long Drive Home

Today is the Fall Cleanup Run for the 4x4 group. We have a good size group today - about 14 vehicles!  The group sponsors two trails and I went with the 1/2 of the group tending the Barbour Fork trail - which was good as I was the only person that had traveled the trail.

We did a counter-clockwise loop. There was little forest use this summer and the trash cleanups went quick. Heading uphill - somewhere around the tipi - the trail is decently dug out. A locking differential or traction control is quite appreciated to get through it. The showroom-new jeep, with traction control (that works!), was able to get through it w/o any scrapes underneath or on the sides. Temperatures and wind were perfect - some sun, some shade - neither too cold nor too sweaty - bonus!

Back at Idaho Springs, I had a decision to make - which route to take to get home?

1) Take the short, quick, boring Interstate (85 miles & 85 minutes)
2) Take the slow-ish and scenic peak-to-peak highway - in the mountains, but on the east side, with a thought to maybe visit some trail along the way (105 miles & 140 minutes - minimum)
3) Jump to the west side of the mountains and run up north (250 miles & 270 minutes)

#1 was readily discounted. #2 had some pull. #3 won as it was "early enough" to have reasonable daylight for sight seeing on the longer route, though I knew I'd complete the day after dark. Not-Too-Unexpectedly the 250 mile route would get expanded to 350 miles when I saw some close-to-me and impressive smoke plumes.

Leave home
Arrive home


Some bullet holes but the signs are in good condition

A bit early for these aspen trees

Brian waving hi - clean looking jeep...

...outdone by this showroom spotless jeep


A bit of color starting to pop

Wrapping up at the trailhead, one gent already on the road.

Idaho Springs
Heading west towards Berthoud Pass

Approaching Berthoud Pass from the south - looking south

Relays / transmission towers atop Colorado Mines Peak at Berthoud Pass

A nice view to the north

Frazier area looking northeast
That ridge is likely part of Rocky Mountain National Park
If I could stand atop one of those peaks I might be able to see Fort Collins 30 or 40 miles distant.

CO-125 north from Grandby / US-40

CO-125 in North Park (south of Walden) - eastward - a nice setting worthy of a couple snaps

Nice rays - but not for long

At the north edge of North Park this tower of smoke was on the windshield. As I neared the CO-125 / CO-127 intersection I had a decision to make. Take the "right" and jump to Laramie as intended or take the "left" and get closer to the fire but tack on another hundred miles - wildly extending my day. The debate was short.

It seemed "just over the ridge" (and mostly, it is).

The Mullen Fire
As of this writing it is reported to be approaching 14,000 acres, cause unknown

The above and below photos are the same direction about 30 seconds apart. The intense spot of fire quickly increased and just as quickly decreased.

The above fire photos were just right of the guy wire

From these pictures it was the homeward slog. Jump north to I-80, head east to Laramie and drop down to Fort Collins.