Saturday, May 24, 2014

Just Another Ride up the Mountain Road.

Depending on the day, or time of the day, right now, it could be one heck of a beautiful time to go up into the Abajo Mountains; or a thunderstorm is moving in.  I laugh my butt off when someone from out of town asks, "Is it always like this?"  "Like what?", I ask.  "The weather?", they response is typically, "Yes, we have weather here every day."  Seriously, I am absolutely clueless as to what they are expecting; the weather is the weather, it does what it wants, when it wants to....we simple humans have no control no matter what science fiction movies depict.  So, there's my vent for today...

Anyway, one of the great advantages of living in Monticello is being able to go up into the mountains whenever we want to; whether to go camping, hiking, fishing, off road driving, or just that simple drive up the paved road, maybe down the other side, or back the way you started out, then home again.  So it was the beginning of this week, before the thunderstorms began moving in; the sky was clear blue with a slight breeze blowing through.  Jenna was my companion once again; she loves when mommy drives the SUV into a forest clearing and she can run, run, run to her heart's delight.  I figured that this would be a good time to try and find those hidden Indian sites.

Full tank of gas, bottled water and snacks stowed in the vehicle, up the mountain road we headed.  Starting point is the Welcome Center on 200 South and Main Street; follow 200 South as it curves to the left and it gets renamed Abajo Drive.  Before you head on up, there's an informational board with mileage indications; the road changes name again to San Juan County Road 101 (CR 101).  The mileage markings I give in this posting are based on the starting point I just gave you.

At 3.3 miles, the Pipeline Trail (OHV trail) is to the left, but there is a dirt trail to the right also; it's only 1/10th of a mile before you emerge into a clearing.  There are a few campfire rings in the area, but ATV trails leading out also.  Parking, Jenna went off running, but I decided on a leisurely hike.  There are great viewpoints of the mountains and of Monticello down below.  Now as to the piles of rubble I found; some of the piles had unusual shaping to them.  One pile started out oval, but ended in a point; the point was towards another pile of rubble within the shrubbery.  Then there was a clearing where the stones were sticking out of the ground in a circular fashion with other stones making up other shapes nearby.  Could this be one of the hidden sites?

Here's a hint for ATVers and hikers, if you see a dirt road and there is no "private property" or "no trespassing" sign, it is pretty much open for public usage.  It's the same for campsites, so long as there is a rock fire ring on a site, it's yours!

At mile 4.3 there is another dirt trail that leads off into the Aspen trees; campsites are 5/10ths of a mile in.  This is a beautiful area for hiking or camping in; the sunlight through the Aspens gives a surreal feeling.  The stones used to make a fire pit were unusual as they seemed to be rounded off at the edges.  Were hidden Indian ruins ruined to create this fire pit, and the other fire rings in the area?

Colorado Aspen Trees

Sneezeweed (Aster family)
At 4.5 miles is another dirt trail that leads to primitive water, no electric, no potties.  The nearest toilet is at a rest area at 5.1 miles, or at Monticello Lake which is at the 7.8 mile mark.

Mile mark 5.9 is OHV trail 5128 while at 6.7 there are two trails, 5116 and 5421; they are wide looking, so probably 4-wheel drive friendly, not just for ATVs.

View at mile mark 6.7
There is a road that parallels the paved road at Monticello Lake; CR 103/FR  0105 and it goes to the junction of CR 165 and Spring Creek Road (FR  0105 continues and full of free campsites).  I traveled CR 165, but it dead ends at a road maintenance site; however, there are two OHV trails off of it, 5418 and 5420.  Back to the junction, you can get a viewing of the Indian Creek Valley in the far distance.

It was getting on lunchtime, so instead of snacking, we headed on back home, so I could do some experimental cooking; I do have that food blog to maintain also.

Having a good time in this area is not complicated; just pick a direction and have fun!

Mary Cokenour

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