Chuck Mack: We had a fun day – part 2 of 2
October 11, 2008
Craig — When we got to State Highway 134, which is the Gore Pass highway, we made a right turn headed towards Toponas. After reaching the summit of the pass and then going down the other side a few miles, we came to the road that turns off and goes down to Radium and the Colorado River. This road follows along Blacktail Creek for most of its distance down to the Colorado River.
This road is open for ATV travel, and it would really make a wonderful ride. It would be much more fun going with an ATV than it is with a pickup truck. I think it’s about 25 miles of downhill, and very twisty, curves before you reach the bottom. A good portion of the time, you can see the beautiful Colorado River stretched out way down below and in front of you.
When you reach the bottom of this beautiful, steep and curvy road, you drive alongside the Colorado River for a mile or two before coming to Radium. Somewhere near Radium are the Radium Hot Springs. We found the chokecherry and sarvis and other shrubbery bushes, some in a brilliant shade of autumn color. The aspen were just starting to turn.
I’m almost positive there used to be a small resort at Radium, and it was a regular stop on the railroad route back when there were passenger trains pulled by steam engines. Of course, that was back in the good old days. I’m not sure just where the Hot Springs are located, but Mike was telling me the railroaders talk about seeing it from the railroad engines and that sometimes they see bathers, some wearing suits and some in the nude.
At Radium, we crossed the railroad tracks and the Colorado River, then we drove 4 or 5 miles before coming to what commonly is called the Trough Road. This road leaves Highway 40 a few miles from Kremmling and kind of follows along the rim of the Colorado River Canyon before finally dropping down to near river level. We made a right turn and followed the road along the Colorado River until we reached the little resort place of State Bridge. Before we reached State Bridge, we also drove by another resort that is right on the Colorado River. This resort caters mostly to river rafters. And there are a lot of rafters on the Colorado River.
At State Bridge, the Trough Road intersects with Highway 131. Here, we made another right turn and we once again were headed towards Toponas. This route takes you through the little community of McCoy. By then, we had said goodbye to the Colorado River. Along this route were lots of colorful sarvis and chokecherry and the other shrubbery which turns color about the same time and most of it was beautiful. We continued on down the road first through Toponas, then Yampa, Phippsburg and finally Oak Creek where we turned off on the 20 Mile Road. Occasionally, we saw a beautiful aspen but mostly it was just the shrubbery, chokecherry and sarvis which had the beautiful autumn color.
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Mike works at the 20 Mile Mine, and he was telling us that because of troubles in the mine, they had not mined or shipped any coal in almost a month. When the 20 Mile Mine came into view, Mike was very surprised. He is off on his long weekend and he didn’t know it; but the mine had gone back into production and already had huge stockpiles. There were even two of the mile-long unit coal trains waiting to be loaded. Mike was telling me that these unit coal trains, containing 110 to 120 cars and six of the railroad engines, total more than 6000 feet in length. So, calling them a mile-long train is an understatement. A mile is only 5,280 feet.
And then, of course, it was on home and the end of a very interesting day.