18-May-2007 -- As I was en route back to Denver from a visit to Grand Junction, I wanted to do some investigating of a spot that would complete six confluence visits in a line along 40 North through most of Colorado. Earlier in the day, I had successfully visited 40 North 109 West, and the thought of tagging two in one day is always intriguing. My prior research showed me that I could get close, and I even entertained visions of reaching the goal.
I drove west out of Rangely to Craig, and then drove south out of Steamboat Springs on Colorado Highway 131. This was the first time I had driven on this road, despite living in Colorado since 1970. South of Yampa, I missed the turn to County Road 3, doubled back and drove south and west through some magnificent ranchland beneath snow-covered peaks. The road deteriorated and I parked the vehicle near the place where the road was blocked due to elk calving. It is only open during a few months of the year. However, I would not have been able to drive up the four-wheel drive road in my passenger car even if the road had been open.
I hiked south and west along the four-wheel drive road. It was wonderfully peaceful under the aspens and Douglas Fir trees. I came to the fork in the road and took the left turn. I should have taken the right fork, but in retrospect, I was having doubts that I would make it. After 30 minutes, I was still only 1/4 of the way there. I had 4 kilometers left to hike. A mountain bike would be a quicker way to properly journey to this confluence.
This confluence would indeed make a fine hike...but on another day. After I turned east on the road, I noticed that a rainstorm was rolling in, and it was already late afternoon. The confluence is at high elevation, and as anyone who has hiked in the mountains knows, the temperature during one of these thunderstorms can drop quite a bit rather quickly. These factors, plus the possibility of lightning made me decide to take a few photographs across beautiful meadows and forests, and make a beeline back to the vehicle. The road neared the national forest line, marked by a fence with no trespassing signs on the other side. A trail along this fence, I realized, should take me straight back to the vehicle and possibly save some time. True, it did save time, but it went up and down quite a bit, and upon each descent, I became mired in mud and snow, even up to my hips at one point. Still, it was a peaceful spot and I saw nobody on the hike. After an hour round-trip hiking time, I arrived back at the vehicle.
I drove back to the east along County Road 5 to Tonopas, past a picturesque scene of an abandoned set of ranch buildings, south to Wolcott, and east along Interstate Highway 70 to Denver. I wasn't too sorry that I had not made it to the confluence, because now I had a beautiful place to which I could return.