Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rattlesnake Gulch hike with JJ

JJ and I headed out for a hike this afternoon in Eldorado Canyon State Park. It was packed but we found a place to park and headed up to the Fowler trailhead. Laurel and I have hiked the Rattlesnake Gulch trail twice before -- once in 2008 when it was very icy, and another time when we climbed Eldorado Mountain. But we never had a chance to explore the area very much, so it was neat going out with JJ.

The first thing we found was a huge concrete tunnel suspended 10-15 feet above a small valley. We climbed up top and found a USGS-style bronze survey marker that said "DMWW", so probably this was part of the aqueduct system. There was a metal "smokestack" coming out of the concrete pipe that allowed us to hear the water flowing.

We spent some time checking out the old hotel ruins. Great views of the Indian Peaks and Continental Divide too. Then we noticed a small side trail that went up a ridge to a high point. It didn't seem like the main trail went there so we checked it out. But of course, once atop that ridge we saw another point we wanted to check out.

We went back to get our packs, which we had left on the main trail, then continued along the official trail. There was another way to cut over to the high point, and from there we found a very faint old trail that took us down into some unknown valley. In a few places the ground looked like it had been leveled for a cabin foundation, but there was no evidence of any building materials. It could be that people working on the railroad had set up temporary housing down by the creek. We also found an old bird skeleton and some feathers (probably a crow).

After all this exploring we were ready to head home. We got back to the car before the sun set on the valley.

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