Chuck Mack: Our Fall camping trip on Gore Pass, part nine

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On the morning of Oct. 1, we were out of bed early because we had a full and exciting day planned. We ate a hearty and warm breakfast and then watched out the camper windows as daylight overtook our surroundings with the first rays of sunlight and the overnight frost that had accumulated on the willows along the creek began to sparkle. With just a hint of pink in the sunrise, the color in the willows almost exploded in a burst of beauty. It was hard to tear ourselves away from that beautiful scene but we knew we had to get rolling on down the road.

It was hard to tell that our Dodge was actually painted blue. It had so much frost covering it that all that showed was white. It had been running several minutes while we were watching the beauty unfold, and when we were ready we had a warm vehicle with clear windows to start with. We drove east on the old stage route and when we got to the ford on Rock Creek, there was a skim of ice covering the creek wherever it wasn't moving fast. We splashed through the creek and got another set of icy wheels in the process. There isn't much excitement crossing a creek on a bridge. To me, at least, there's lots of excitement when you have to ford right through the creek, so I would be well pleased to have less culverts and bridges on the streams.

When we got out on Highway 134 we continued east on up the pass just a short distance and then we turned off on Forest Service Road 212. This road is also known as "Black Tail Road." I suppose that name arises from the fact that this road follows along Black Tail Creek for a good deal of its distance. Gosh, this is another instance when I'm sure glad the beavers have made a comeback into the high country streams. It had probably been 20 years or more since we had been on this route and at that time there weren't any beaver dams along the creek. On this trip we discovered there are lots of beautiful beaver dams and of course beaver dams on a stream mean good fishing. But that's just one of the benefits of beaver dams. Beaver dams check the flow of water and make the stream flow more constant throughout the summer and that benefits everyone.

The Black Tail Road, just like this stream, heads down the mountain towards the Colorado River. This is approximately 12 miles from the Gore Pass highway, a beautiful 12-mile drive with lots of colorful aspen trees on the upper part of the mountain or approximately one half of the drive. Finally you leave the aspen timber and get more into scrub oak, serviceberry and chokecherry and we found that these too were in their prime with the variety of coloring ranging from the rusty red-brown of the oak through the yellow spectrum and into the deep fire tinted red of the chokecherry. When we first left camp we were facing the rising sun. However, this didn't hinder us long because we were moving along so slowly, soaking in the beauty and stopping to take pictures, and before we had traveled very far, the sun was high enough in the sky that it wasn't any problem. Fact is this time of year when the sun is low on the horizon, sometimes the shadows it casts only makes beautiful things more beautiful!

Forest Service Road 212, somewhere along the route, turns into "Grand County Road 11." Along about the time the road numbers change is when you start getting views of the Colorado River, which from that point is a long ways in elevation down below. The official first name of the Colorado River was "the Grand River" and probably that is where Grand County comes by its name. On this trip we found looking down on the Colorado River even more pleasing because of all the color around and along the riverbanks and it seems the Colorado River always does have its very special own blue color and looking down on it from such a height only adds charm to that coloring.

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