Alaska: As remote as it gets… (slideshow/video)

Here is a slideshow from my Alaskan Backcountry Adventure:

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3rd Annual 100s in the Hills

After months of emails, texts and conference calls with the 3 other Co-Directors, it was finally time to hit the road. Bandit and I had the Cruiser and trailer packed up and we were off for the 3rd Annual 100s in the Hills event. Some of you might remember a few years ago a trip we took to the San Juans to camp and wheel with some friends. Well, this small excursion has grown significantly in the past three years to a nationally recognized event. This year we had almost 30 vehicles from all over the country, 65 people in attendance and twenty-three sponsors. Located in a remote area where everyone is to be self sufficient, we require all participants to practice the leave no trace principles. This event takes quite a bit of logistics and planning, which was completely worthwhile. No one left disappointed.

Unfortunately Kristy was out of town on business, but she is sure to attend next year. I wrote an article that was published in the November/December issue of Toyota Trails magazine on this years event. Please click below for the online edition of the article page 19:

Toyota Trails Nov/Dec 3013

Below are more pictures and a link to the 100s in the Hills Facebook page:

Facebook/100s in the Hills

Day #1: Clear Lake family fun run

Day #2: Ophir Pass & Imogene Pass

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Day #3: Black Bear Pass

Day #3 continued, Directors run back to camp and night run:

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Meeker

Oh Meeker…The Perfect Place to Be!

Land of Peace and Perfect Scenery.

With Rolling Hills and Friendly Faces

This is One of My Favorite Places.

How I Wish I Could Stay With Thee,

But We Must Return to the Sea of Humanity.

We picked up a couple of traveling companions and began a road trip to Meeker to spend a few days with family in this Western paradise.  Meeker is well-known to hunters, but the area also offers wonderful scenery and outdoor adventures.

With the perfect hosts, we were greeted with a fish and elk fry the first night with friends, family and neighbors.  We ate until we could eat no more!  And thanks to Grandpa J, Furry B was even able to enjoy a few bites of elk. The next day was spent shopping, fishing, and then rounding up the crowd to head to the Elk Camp.

Elk Camp!

By hunter’s standards, the camp was almost luxurious; with electricity, satellite tv, and a commercial kitchen, this hunting cabin should be featured on HGTV.  We grilled up a few burgers and headed off to the mountains in search of elk.  Since it is the breeding season, we hoped to see lots of elk gather in the vallies in search of mates.  Up the mountain, we stopped for several photo ops and enjoyed the view of the rolling mountains.  We reached the ridge, and almost immediately could hear the elks’ bugles.  About the second valley we stopped at, we were able to spot at least a dozen elk gathering in the field below.  We stayed on the ridge until sunset, and then drove back down to camp.  After a few snacks, we cleaned up camp and headed back on the road.  On the way home, we saw multitudes of mule deer and then had a movie worthy moment when a huge elk appeared in the middle of the road!  Thankfully, our brakes were in good condition and we were able to stop before the truck became an elk slayer (or the elk becoming a truck destroyer).

Trappers Lake

Our last evening at Meeker was spent at Trappers Lake Lodge.  On the scenic drive to the lodge we passed the $55 million Seven Lakes Ranch owned by golfer Greg Norman and beautiful property owned by American businessman Henry Kravis.  As we neared the lake, we saw the devastation of the 2002 fire, which burned over 22,000 acres including the original lodge.  The lodge has been rebuilt, and includes a restaurant and small store.  We had made reservations for dinner and in true Meeker style, even brought lettuce and tomatoes for the kitchen (since the nearest town – Meeker – is 39 miles away).  The dictator restaurant, where they dictate what you eat, served Navajo Tacos on Indian Frybread with a choice of chicken or ground beef.  And they were delicious!!!!  After dinner, we took a stroll over to Trappers Lake, which is one of Colorado’s largest natural lakes.  It was late in the evening, but there were still a few fishermen and kayakers enjoying the calm waters.

The next morning it was sad to go, but we were glad for the good memories. Meeker is the perfect Colorado retreat!

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Fishing the North Platte River, CO

Labor Day weekend, where to go???  We decided to pack the Cruiser and head even further away from humanity to a more desolate area of the state, North Park, CO.  We took the scenic route: 70 West to Empire, 40 North through Winter Park and Granby and then North on 125 through Walden to the North Platte River.  We had not been here before, so we scouted out our surroundings.  We found the ramp area on the river where I wanted to start fishing, so we needed to find a camping spot nearby.  Luckily, there was a forest service/4×4 road about 2 miles south of the Wyoming state line and decided to head up and check it out.  We were so glad we did.  There were three primitive camping spots on the ridge overlooking Northgate Canyon, called Mahogany Spur.  Unsure whether we would find anything being Labor Day, we were very glad to have found this area.  After we decided on a spot, we headed back to the river, ate lunch and geared up.  Furry B was frisky as the weather was a beautiful 70 degrees and I couldn’t wait to get the waders on and get a pole in the water. 

“The North Platte River is a legend – a river that pioneers used to traverse portions of the west – where Indians hunted buffalo along its shores. It is also a legend for fishing. Known for its good fishing in Wyoming, it starts in northern Colorado. A portion of this river has the distinction of being both a Wild Trout and Gold Medal River.”  http://www.coloradofishing.net/ft_nplat.htm

K and Furry B headed down the trail next to the river; I got right in and started wading downstream.  I started off with a flourescent rooster tail and wasn’t having any luck.  Remembering reading something about orange being very good on this river,  I threw an orange Panther Martin on the line and after a few minutes, got a hit.  It was a small Brown Trout and the only one we got a picture of, as I was in the middle of the river and K was on the bank with Furry B.  We got him back in the water and I headed back out.  Caught a few more browns and then I spotted a nice sized rock down stream, so I worked my way towards it.  As I got closer I could see the other side of it and it created a nice pool.  I casted near the rock and a nice sized Rainbow took the bait.  I decided I should call it a day, as I had talked to the only two other fisherman I saw, one didn’t catch anything and the other only caught one.  I was ahead of the game and we needed to set up camp.

We headed back up the forest service road, pulled into camp and started setting up.  We sat around and enjoyed the scenery from the ridge: the Northgate Canyon and Medicine Bow Mountains to the east and Independence Mountain to our west.  Furry B wore himself out chasing all the chipmunks, which were in abundance.  The sun was going down, so we fired up the grill and made hotdogs along with blue cheese and bacon potato salad,which I thought was great!  K said it tasted like dirty socks, guess I like dirty socks…  As the sun went down, so did the temps.  We made a fire and turned in early.  When I got up with the sun rising over the mountains to the east, peaking in the tent window, it was 38 degrees.  K stayed in her warm sleeping bag and I got up to make some coffee.  We made a gourmet breakfast with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, asparagus and cheddar cheese, mmmmmm.  We were in no hurry to pack up, but we had passed a wildlife area coming in that we wanted to check out. 

After packing everything up, we headed south, back to Walden.  We took a detour on the right which was BLM area, McCallum Oil Field.  It began in 1926 and in 2007, North Park produced 96 thousand barrels of oil and 1.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas from 153 wells.  Pretty vast area.  We also took drive through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.  We saw lots of pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs and a sneaky coyote.  As we were nearing town, we saw an antelope that was stuck in some barbed wire, we stopped to help and as I walked back to the truck to get some gloves, K was getting a better view of it and it got loose, yelled at us and ran off to join the herd that was about 200 yards away.  We fueled up in Walden and took a different route home, through Wyoming and then south into Denver.

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