Saturday, September 23, 2023
Fall Colors on Argentine Pass

The 4x4 group scheduled a visit to the Argentine Pass trail for some fall colors. It has a nice grouping of aspen trees to enjoy.

This might be the last of the no top, no doors for the season. I planned to need a winter coat, hat, gloves for the morning drive to Georgetown - but I didn't expect to wear the coat for 99% of the full day. I left home at 7am and returned at 8pm - a full day.

An enjoyable deviation for the day were a couple passengers - a couple young kids were in the group and I commented that they could ride with me if they wished. The no top / doors / windshield turned out to be a fun novelty.

Temperatures "in the valley" (and out of the crazy strong wind) were comfortable though at the McClellan Mountain lookout and at Argentine Pass were crisp. Those two spots provided a focused area with winds that were quite strong.

The gent in the silver pickup had a rock poke a hole in the sidewall of a tire - giving an instant flat that was non-repairable. He had a spare ready to go and it was changed in short order (noone wishing to stay longer than the basic of a short experience at the pass).

Of note was the snow on the mountains at the south end of the valley. I wonder if we'll get an early snowfall / heavy snow season?

At the low spot between McClellan mountain and Argeintine Pass is the Waldorf townside / Waldorf mine. A steam train used to travel from Georgetown Colo to the McClellan overlook. If you know about railroad grades - they tend to be consistent - and that is evident looking at the line dropping down from McClellan to Waldorf. The jeep trails we traveled a good portion on today used to be a railroad line. I'm sure it delivered supplies to the town of Waldorf and sightseeers to McClellan Mountain. A photo of the train at the high spot we drove to today can be found. Up high, above timberline, old railroad ties can be found on the low side of the trail - though the rails have been removed as they were of greater value.

Levenworth Creek - a nice flow even this late in the season.

A batch of aspen trees in the valley. They're a bit green still. I wonder when they will be at their golden peak?

A couple sections of trail offered a nice tree tunnel.

Large powerlines travel up the valley. Down low, they are metal towers though up high they are wooden poles.

Up above timberlie, where the views open up and the valley is large and vast, the power lines disappear from view - though they run right through many of the photos.

Some of the old / original Santiago Mine/Mill and Waldforf town power lines exist.

Up near timberline - looking towards McClellan mountain (off the left of the photo I believe). In the photo you can barely make out a tan line - that is the old railroad bed - and is where we're looking to drive.

A first view that we will be up with the snow today.

Snow - already - I would not have thought it just yet.

Those powerlines in the valley - but yet they can't be seen - they are plainly in this photo near the left. You might make out a few sets of poles. If you follow the snow touched ridge left of center in the picture, you might see some powerline poles at the ridge.

Also in the photo - right of center (noted in the following photo) is the Argeintine road to the pass.

...and those powerlines...

The Santiago Mill

It is being preserved. I wonder if there are plans to have it open for viewings - much like a fire lookout tower nortwest of town. At the tower, volunteers staff it on summer weekends and visitors are then able to enter it and enjoy the experience.

A mine entrance (likely the Santiago Mine). Most are locked from entry. We were able to take a peek inside for what the camera could see.

We're up at McClellan Mountain - overlooking the trailhead for the Grays & Torreys peaks. The hiking path extends to the bottom left of this photo.

The trail comes in the right bottom of this photo and works up the valley to Grays Peak (left, with snow) and Torreys Peak to the right. The trail zig-zags up the snow field - visible in the next photos.

People out for a hike atop some "14ers" (mountain peaks over 14,000 feet elevation)

Looking towards the north - to the left the road to the Grays/Torreys trailhead, to the right the original railroad bed, now jeep road, to McClellan mountain.

Soaking in the view

Heading over to Argentine Pass with a lunch stop at Waldorf. These days, no structure is left standing. One old iron/steel pump remains. The mine entrance is there. That's about it.

Lunch tended - heading up to Argentine Pass

My passenger changed for this segment of the trip.

A curious vehicle out on the trail - Kill Box. The front is a ??1970?? Jeep CJ-5 though a new rear end has been added - greatly lengthening the wheelbase. I believe he said he's from the Highlands Ranch area.

Shortly after I took these photos of his unique jeep another passing jeep stopped to take a picture of my jeep. Somewhat unexpected as my model isn't that old - but he did say - "YJ with jerry cans".  The Jerry Cans do make for a nice look. I don't need them while in Colorado but they do get used on remote trips to Utah. I needed them in the spring and expect to need them this fall - so I left them on for the summer.

At the left of this photo is a toolbox - where the side of the jeep would be. Directly under the toolbox is where the rear wheels used to be. The current wheels have been pushed back four to five feet.

Ah - something to remember - slashing a sidewall at Argentine Pass.

The wind's CRAZY fast and chilly - let's get it quickly changed.

Looking over the pass - down to the Peru Creek valley (Montezuma Colo is down the valley).

And there we have it - fresh, first of season snow at our feet. Late September 2023.

We wouldn't have to walk far for full snowcover.

Flat to come off...

Sidewall cut in green.

I tossed the flat into the back of my jeep to make it easy to get out of the cold vs. making room to put it back into the pickup. We can tend that task down in Georgetown where's it warm and not windy.

A photo from down in Gorgetown (no asphalt atop Argentine Pass)

A last photo looking over the pass - more snow on the peaks.

We'll drop down the valley until we get to the highway

It does look beautiful
(even with power lines rolling through the photo)

The railbed - down into the pine trees.

and finishing up through the aspens for a nice afternoon.

Somewhere along the trail near here a two stroke dirt bike passed us. It was running at a good clip - on the gas and moving. The young Miss who was my passenger gave a comment that made me chuckle - a comment not expected from a (1) young (2) lady - I love the smell of two stroke smoke.