Trans USA & Canada Week 4, 6/15-6/21

Day 23 (6/15): So today I planned on leaving the Denver and Thornton area. On my way out I decided to stop by an old friend’s/ex’s apartment to see if they were there. We did not end on the best terms. We never had. But I figured this be the last time I would get to see them. I stopped by at around 10am not know if they were home. I knew it was there day off from work. That was if nothing had changed in a few weeks. I was greeted with a sleep confused woman. Not expecting me and thinking I was maintenance it was slightly overwhelming. We ended up going out for lunch and decided to hang out and catch up for the rest of the day. It was a good day filled with emotions.

Day 24 (6/16): I woke up and said good bye to my friend/ex for the last time and continued on my trip. I can’t say it was not emotional. On my way through Colorado Springs. I met up with Dan Cole. The person that runs the 4×4 Podcast. Check them out at He was doing a brake job on his jeep while visiting his father. He was in the middle of his trip of moving up to Alaska! I might meet up with him and the family in Fairbanks too! After a short visit and a quick talk over teardrop camper. I headed out on the road. I got on the TAT about 30miles further down the trail then I got on. All day was just incredible views.

IMG_0501 IMG_0499 IMG_0502

The whole day it seemed like I was driving to towards snowcapped mountains. As soon as I would hit them I would drive around the and drive towards another set.

IMG_0503 IMG_0505

I also saw a ton of deer all day by the road. And none of them were skittish.

IMG_0506 IMG_0507

Another set of mountains as a destination.

IMG_0509 IMG_0510 IMG_0512

And looking back were I came from always seemed quit impressive


Most of it was gravel roads going up and down these steep mountain passes. There was some switchbacks that would make anyone afraid of heights scared.

IMG_0515 IMG_0516

The view after a set of switch backs.


Moving on forward. I don’t think this will ever get old seeing stuff like this.
IMG_0519 IMG_0521

I did hit about 5 miles of ruff terrain today. In all the excitement I forgot to take a photo. But here is one of my campsite for tonight. After the emotional morning this was well needed. Putting miles on the vehicle down gravel/dirt roads.


Day 25 (6/17): Last night was brutal. I feel asleep nice and early to catch up. I woke up at 3am sick as a dog. That is all I will say about that. I ended up falling back asleep around 6am and hit road around noon. I headed off down this narrow twisty steep trail. I ended up taking it in 4lo in 2nd gear most of the way. The vehicle handled great. For most of the trail I had a 100-200’ decent the driver’s side and steep hill on the passenger side. I was lucky not to run into any other full size vehicles. I came across a few dirt bikes and ATVs. I asked one of the ATV drivers since he seemed to be leading the group if the trail was open all the way through. He gave me a warning not to turn off on a certain trail since it was still snow packed in and very difficult to turn around on. Luckily when it came time I was not supposed to take that trail. The views were always spectacular but difficult to get a good picture.

IMG_0524 IMG_0525

Some left over snow at over 9k. I’ve been informed people are still skiing and snowmobiling in the northern parts of Colorado.


After about 30 miles of slow rugged twisty terrain. I all of a sudden broke through to a nice gravel road. I passed this sign hmm, Maybe they should put it on the other end of the trail too.


Then I noticed this sign. I was not even thinking I was going to cross the divide today. I have to say my GPS is really accurate. It was about 5’ off due to the mounting hight.

IMG_0530 IMG_0531 IMG_0532

Not to mention the view was one of the better ones I’ve seen and that is saying a lot.

IMG_0534 IMG_0535

As I started to easily decend down the nice gravel road, I noticed these old wood planks and pilings along the side of the trail. Was this for a old train track? Or an old road?


Looking forward.


Due to all the rain and snow melt this year every creek and river was rushing and you could see the land erosion. The forest service was out in force monitoring it all.

IMG_0540 IMG_0541 IMG_0542

I then drove along a slopped platue between to ridge lines for about 30 miles. The stream flowing through it twisted and turned and was roaring. It was absolutely amazing. You could see all the old paths that it took and see where it was going to cut a new one.

IMG_0543 IMG_0545 IMG_0546

The terrain would switch from forests, to grass lands/shrubs, to rocks


Looking forward and backwards

IMG_0550 IMG_0548 IMG_0552

After a short day of driving, and a long previous night. I came across this beautiful campsite.

IMG_0555 IMG_0556 IMG_0557IMG_0560IMG_0561

Day 26 (6/18): I awake this morning to 42 deg outside at 8am besides that. Today was absolutely amazing. It was more challenging, better views and downright hairy at times. I started off the day with about 50miles of easy trail to awaken too. I also got a little picture happy today 113 of them!

So to start off with, which one of them is not like the others?

IMG_0564 IMG_0565

I had a wonderful views all day.

IMG_0567 IMG_0568

I also had great drop offs on one side or the other for 80% of the day. This one was right around 800ft.

IMG_0569 IMG_0571 IMG_0572

Then I came across some flatter grass lands and this heard of deer.

IMG_0573 IMG_0577

Rock cliffs where always somewhere to be seen.


And all the streams where roaring with snowmelt and rain water.

IMG_0581 IMG_0582 IMG_0583

And the mountains where looking intimidating ahead.

IMG_0584 IMG_0586

Came across this great lookout that explained the land slide to the side.


IMG_0589 IMG_0603

It also told you all of the peaks in the distance.

IMG_0590 IMG_0591 IMG_0592

There were so many of them. Could you imagine coming across this in a covered wagon?

IMG_0593 IMG_0596 IMG_0597IMG_0600IMG_0601

This lake was the start of a whole new adventure. I will let pictures tell most of the story. But to summarize it I headed down and around this lake. And up and over those mountains in the distance.


Sheer drops and switch backs where everywhere. I would rate this trail a blue with a trailer a black. Keep in mind this is a two way “road”.

IMG_0606 IMG_0607 IMG_0608 IMG_0609

IMG_0611 IMG_0612 IMG_0613IMG_0615IMG_0618

Came across this silver mind. The whole area was prospected for silver, gold, and a few other minerals. That is the reason all these trails where built.

IMG_0620 IMG_0621 IMG_0622

As the locals call them whistle pigs where everywhere. They were the only animal I saw at high elevations besides field mice.

IMG_0624 IMG_0628


Where my future lies and where I’ve been.

IMG_0632 IMG_0633

IMG_0635 IMG_0636 IMG_0637 IMG_0638

You can see the trail I was on and all switch backs. I almost stalled in 4 lo 1st gear!


The snowy future.


This water fall was close to the summit.

IMG_0641 IMG_0642

Almost there.

IMG_0643 IMG_0645 IMG_0646 IMG_0647

Made it to the top! Wow what a view. I found out It was cinnamon pass the highest opened pass in the area.

IMG_0654 IMG_0648IMG_0649IMG_0650IMG_0651IMG_0652IMG_0656

The way down was way easier then up I have to say.

IMG_0657 IMG_0658 IMG_0660

At the bottom came across this old mining town. It had the highest printed newspaper in the US history.

IMG_0661 IMG_0662 IMG_0664

I had to take a different way out since my original plan was still snow covered and they were clearing it with a dozer. Some more mines.

IMG_0665 IMG_0666

Snow bridge.


And amazing views.

IMG_0668 IMG_0669 IMG_0670 IMG_0671

My free camp site for the night.

IMG_0673 IMG_0676

Day 27 (6/19): Today I headed to the Black Canon Nation Park. It was a great little trip. I recommend this nation park for a day trip. I don’t think more than one day is needed. I only visited the South Rim. There is a path on the north rim too. It is “off-road” so take that as they mean it.

On the way to the NP I came across this interesting little tunnel. There is a trail you can walk. But I could not find it. Hmm.


Just a little view of where I was coming from.


All the shear rock faces. Everyone was looking for goats.


Well I made it to the Black Canyon NP. It is not a very large park but when you have been staring at mountains for a few days to a week. It is nice looking down into a canyon.


They had quite a few different look out points on different fishers and there were little signs that told you how far the walk was so people could decide if they wanted to take the hike. This image is looking towards the start of the canyon.

IMG_0683 IMG_0684 IMG_0685

Looking toward the exit.


You can see the sudden terrain change. All caused by a river and erosion.

IMG_0688 IMG_0689

IMG_0690 IMG_0692 IMG_0693

Can you see me?


There I am!


Saw this bird. No idea what it was but It sure was making a lot of noise. Pitch Black.


Some of the cracks. The softer rock eroded away. While the tougher rock stays. My geology teacher and ex coworkers would be proud of that description.


The river way down there.


It made a Island of shorts. Makes me want to build a bridge to it.



You can see how the lava traveled through the rocks by the different colors.

IMG_0706 IMG_0707

Just a view of where I was this morning.


The river starting to leave the canyon and head into the foothills.

IMG_0710 IMG_0711

Here you can clearly see the end of the canyon

IMG_0712 IMG_0714 IMG_0715

On my way back I stopped to look at this seasonal water fall.

IMG_0720 IMG_0721 IMG_0722IMG_0724IMG_0726IMG_0727

Now the whole thing together.


I decided to stay at the same camp site as before. As I was exploring around I saw a few moose tracks that were not there the night before and a small bear print.

IMG_0731 IMG_0733 IMG_0734

As I was enjoying my campfire, these little guys came and visited me. The wildlife here is sure not afraid of humans.

IMG_0739 IMG_0740

Day 28 (6/20): So today I decided to move on and head further down the trail and go see the Mesa Verde National Park. But to get there I had two choices I could head down the highway or go over Ophir Pass. I choice the later, the trail up was not to remember able. The trail down was much more fun.

IMG_0742 IMG_0743 IMG_0745 IMG_0746

Now the trail down, which is a two way trail is a single lane for a few miles. Good thing you can see ahead. The traffic going up has the right away. So you have to make sure you con’t see any oncoming traffic and hope that no one coming up is stupid enough to start while your half way down. Not to mention there were a few signs about no trailers. Opps.

IMG_0747 IMG_0748 IMG_0749

After Ophir the next 40 or so miles was a nation forest.

IMG_0750 IMG_0752 IMG_0757

Then the terrain opened up to these burned out valleys.


Before I knew it I was at the Mesa NP.  All the roads for Mesa NP are basically on top of a ridgeline. It looks back at the mountains and forward towards a large valley.

IMG_0761 IMG_0762 IMG_0763 IMG_0764 IMG_0765

Just the way the way the formation is shaped makes you wonder why anyone would settle here.

IMG_0767 IMG_0768 IMG_0778

So I went ahead and visited the far homes. Since the park guide told me the other area would be a full day. One thing I did not realize is that not all the homes are in the cliff face. There is actually an evolution of homes in the area over time. Some of the previous homes would be abandoned and then resettled and modified for newer and better building techniques. Also all the homes where abandoned for some time due to a drought.

The first homes where single floor. Slightly dug into the ground. They were more isolated and single family dwellings. With neighbors a farm area over

IMG_0781 IMG_0782 IMG_0783 IMG_0784

For the next style of homes they were connected sharing a wall with multiple family’s these also shared a common space for meetings and such.

IMG_0785 IMG_0788 IMG_0787 IMG_0791 IMG_0789 IMG_0790 IMG_0792

As you might have seen different parts of the national park have burned at different times. I guess this is a very common occurrence in this part of the country. This area was one of the more recent burns. I believe it was 1990. From looking at the map the whole park has been burned at one point of time or another in about 5-6 major fire.


The next evolution of homes was a double layer wall with fill of stones and dirt between the layers. This made for a much stronger wall. This meant that more than one story could be built. Along with this they would build towers and tunnels from the towers to a dwelling.

The base of a tower.


Stronger foundations.

IMG_0799 IMG_0796 IMG_0797IMG_0798IMG_0800

Here you can see the tunnel.

IMG_0801 IMG_0802

Can you tell what era this home was created?

IMG_0806 IMG_0807 IMG_0808


On my way back to the campground. I saw these wild horses. I’ve noticed that the wildlife in Colorado does not care or mind human activity.

IMG_0809 IMG_0811

I saw these two dwellings on my way back to the camp ground too. Can you spot both of them?


IMG_0814 IMG_0817

There is supposed to be a watch tower in this photo. I thought I saw it while taking the photo now I can see it.

IMG_0818 IMG_0819

I could not imagine hiking up and down to my house and field each day.

IMG_0823 IMG_0825

Just some cool pictures.

IMG_0828 IMG_0832 IMG_0833 IMG_0834IMG_0836IMG_0838IMG_0839IMG_0841


Day 29 (6/21): So today I visited the other half of the park. This park is huge. There are not a lot of walking trails since the park is an active archeology site. It is about a 30 min drive between the two major areas of the park and the campground. Now let me get to some of the interesting facts and pictures of the ruins.

The first stop was a Pithouse very similar to the one’s I stopped by yesterday. There is a room attached to these houses that they are unsure the purose for. It could have been for storage or religious purpose.

IMG_0845 IMG_0846 IMG_0847 IMG_0848

IMG_0849 IMG_0850 IMG_0851

Then a look out site of the canyon. Just keep in mind these people hiked up or down these walls daily. The farm lands tended to be on top of the Mesa. While the water source tended to be at the bottom.

IMG_0852 IMG_0853 IMG_0854 IMG_0855

After that came my first cliff dwelling site.  This tower is the highest building known to exist to this day.

IMG_0856 IMG_0857 IMG_0858  IMG_0860

This village survived through 3 different evolutions of homes. If you look closely you can see the different type of walls.

IMG_0861 IMG_0862 IMG_0863

IMG_0864 IMG_0865 IMG_0866 IMG_0867 IMG_0868

The Sun Point pueblo village though small shows how tightly these houses were constructed together.

IMG_0869 IMG_0871 IMG_0872 IMG_0874

In the last 100 years of living in the area the pueblo’s started actually building their homes in the cliffs. It is hard to estimate the size of these buildings. Along with the height of the clifs. The cliffs are around 600’ tall. Or the trees around 30-40’ tall.

IMG_0875 IMG_0876 IMG_0880 IMG_0881 IMG_0882 IMG_0883 IMG_0884 IMG_0885 IMG_0886 IMG_0887 IMG_0888IMG_0890IMG_0891IMG_0892IMG_0893IMG_0894

The Oak Tree House is one of the medium size cliff dweling.

IMG_0896 IMG_0897 IMG_0898 IMG_0899 IMG_0900 IMG_0901IMG_0904

IMG_0909 IMG_0905 IMG_0906 IMG_0907

The Fire Temple was used for ritual purposes. They could tell it was not a dwelling as there were no cooking areas and the large fire chambers where layered with ash as in a ceremonial purpose. There are two temples one newer and one older. They are connected by a toe and finger “pathway”.

IMG_0910 IMG_0911 IMG_0912 IMG_0913

IMG_0918 IMG_0919 IMG_0920 IMG_0921 IMG_0922 IMG_0923 IMG_0925

Here is another home. Sorry I forgot the name.

IMG_0929 IMG_0930

This Sun temple was enormous. It was never completed but by all the layers and shear number of bricks. They figure it was a whole community effort.

IMG_0931 IMG_0932 IMG_0933 IMG_0934

The cliff palace was just amazing to look at. It is amazing how they used every little space. It makes me wonder if the better off families where in front or rear of the cliff.

IMG_0936 IMG_0935 IMG_0941

IMG_0942 IMG_0943 IMG_0944 IMG_0945 IMG_0946

View two of the cliff palace

IMG_0948 IMG_0950 IMG_0951 IMG_0952 IMG_0953 IMG_0954 IMG_0958 IMG_0959 IMG_0960

Here is the window house. This one was hard to spot. It seemed more isolated then the others. Maybe it is older.

IMG_0964 IMG_0963 IMG_0965

Some of the canyon views from the same look out spot as the Window House. Can you imagine living in these parts.

IMG_0967 IMG_0969

Hemenway House.

IMG_0970 IMG_0974 IMG_0976IMG_0979IMG_0980IMG_0983IMG_0984

Here is the Split Tree House. This is the only Cliff dwelling you can go down and see up close for free. You can still see the smoke residue on the ceiling of the caves.

IMG_0985 IMG_0986IMG_0990IMG_0991IMG_0992IMG_0993IMG_0995IMG_1002IMG_1005IMG_1006IMG_1007IMG_1014

This is a later age non cliff dwelling. It is almost like a modern day city the way it was designed. It also had 4 houses around it.

IMG_1019 IMG_1020 IMG_1021

Megalithic House, one of the houses around the above dwelling.

IMG_1025 IMG_1026 IMG_1027