We cleared our schedule today in order to drive to Taylor Park Reservoir. We drove north to Buena Vista, turning west on Chaffee County Road 306. This paved road took us to the summit of Cottonwood Pass, at elevation 12,126 feet, also the Continental Divide, marked at the “saddle point” of the pass. The area surrounding the pass is mostly forest, with the San Isabel National Forest to the east and the Gunnison National Forest to the west. Near the summit, the road name changes to Gunnison County Road 209 as it continues to the west, becoming gravel as it descends to near Taylor Park Reservoir. The pass is closed seasonally due to heavy snowfall, typically from around October until sometime in May. When open, the pass is one of the few routes through the Sawatch Range accessible in a standard two-wheel drive passenger vehicle. Independence Pass, which we traversed yesterday, is another such seasonal route through this mountain range, while efforts are made to ensure that U.S. 50 at Monarch Pass, which we crossed Tuesday and Wednesday, remains open year-round for all vehicles, barring extreme weather conditions.
Wayne had told us about a campground, River’s End at Taylor Park Reservoir, and it exceeded his description; the reservoir is shown near the center of the photograph. He had stayed at one of the great sites along the river, and the upper campsites overlooking both the river and the reservoir were incredible, especially when the cost is $0; wow! It would be a great place to spend the hot months of summer. One negative, however, is that we could not get a Verizon cell signal. While driving around the area, we noticed a lot of ATVs creating lots of dust. Of course, this is Friday of Labor Day weekend. On our return, a drizzle began. The Cottonwood Pass road was bumper to bumper from east to west with cars and trucks pulling trailers loaded to the hilt with ATVs, RVs pulling trailers filled with ATVs, etc. Apparently, a nationally prominent ATV event was happening in the area. With the crowded conditions, we made a quick exit.
We stopped atop Cottonwood Pass on the return, and I hiked to the summit—Kay partway—of a nearby mountain, reaching almost 13,000 feet with occasional spitting rain mixed with the drizzle. The trail was marked by one switchback after another, and I had to stop often to catch my breath. The next to last photo was taken atop the mountain, at almost 13,000 feet. The last photo shows the switchback trail, and Kay near the bottom, is nearly invisible. The descent was much easier and faster.
We drove the rest of the way to Salida, expecting a quiet, peaceful evening. About 8 PM a family checked in across the hall with two pre-teen daughters and a small dog. The girls were in and out of the room every couple of minutes (no kidding), and talked loudly in the hall for the next couple of hours. A request, a rap on the door, and even a call to the front desk did not seem to deter them. We finally fell asleep amidst the noise only to be awakened by the dog about 12 o’clock midnight. Oh, what a night.
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