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Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower

Fire Lookouts Extravaganza | Tuesday – Thursday, August 30 – September 1, 2022

After hiking to the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout in the morning, it was time for me to head further north through North Park and into the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming so I could spend the next two nights at the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower while exploring the surrounding area. Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to visit more Fire Lookouts and Towers in the Rocky Mountains and have already spent a night in the Jersey Jim and Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain Lookout, so it should come as no surprise that I have been trying to reserve a night at the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, which sits atop the 10,003 foot summit of Spruce Mountain near Laramie, Wyoming and was renovated and opened to the public for overnight rentals in 1997. Of course, getting a reservation proved to be a bit challenging, but I finally managed to grab two nights (the minimum length of stay allowed) and then began planning this Fire Lookouts Extravaganza!

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Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout

The Only Remaining Fire Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park
Fire Lookouts Extravaganza | Monday & Tuesday, August 29-30, 2022

Earlier this year I managed to reserve two nights this week at the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming and thought it would be fun to make a longer trip out if it by trying to visit as many other Fire Lookouts in the same general area that I could. Since my first night at the Spruce Mountain Tower wasn’t until Tuesday, I thought it would make sense to stop and visit the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout on the way there. Located near the small town of Grand Lake, the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout was built in the 1930’s and is the only remaining Fire Lookout left within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. I left from work on Monday afternoon and followed the upper Colorado River to Grand Lake with a stop for gas in Kremmling.

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Weminuche Wanderings: Lime Mesa to Overlook Point

Mountain View Crest of the Weminuche Wilderness
Friday – Saturday, August 26-27, 2022

Since I was going to be leaving after work on Monday afternoon for a weeklong trip into northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, I wanted to be home on Sunday to make sure that I was prepped and packed for the trip, so that left me with only one day this weekend to get out hiking. My plans for last weekend had been thwarted by stormy weather in the high country, so I decided to retry part of those plans with a short hike into the Weminuche Wilderness from the end of the road on Lime Mesa between Silverton and Durango. As usual, I left right from work on Friday afternoon and headed south on the Million Dollar Highway and was able to watch the most recent storm system clearing out as I drove over Red Mountain Pass, Molas Pass and Coal Bank Pass through the heart of the San Juan Mountains. After reaching the very northern tip of the Animas River Valley I headed up the Missionary Ridge Road in search of a campsite to spend the night.

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West Elk Wilderness: Cut Short on the Mill-Castle Trail

Saturday, August 13, 2022

This weekend Diane was able to get away from her clinical rotations for a bit so she could go on an overnight backpacking trip with me into the West Elk Wilderness. We planned to take it easy by hiking up the Mill-Castle Trail along Mill Creek and thought that maybe we could make it up to the top of Storm Pass for an overlook of The Castles before returning the same way back to the trailhead. Unfortunately, this time we didn’t made it much further beyond the nice waterfall in Mill Creek and ended up turning this backpacking trip into a day hike. This was an amazingly scenic canyon and we both really enjoyed the shorter hike, so we will definitely need to return here again in the future!

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The Summertime Blues: Hiking the Abajo Mountains

Three Directions in the Blue Mountains | Friday – Sunday, August 5-7, 2022

This past week I had been struggling to decide where I wanted to go this weekend as I continually watched the weather forecasts for the mountains since all of them were calling for a large monsoonal surge to enter Colorado which was supposed to create a lot of rain and thunderstorms throughout the high country of the state. On Thursday I decided to look outside of Colorado to the Abajo Mountains, locally known as the Blue Mountains, which had a much milder weather outlook for the weekend, so that’s where I decided to go. As luck would have it, on Friday all the weather forecasters changed their tune about the stormy weather in Colorado for the weekend, but by then I had already set my mind on heading up into the Abajos, plus it has been a while since I did any hiking in this small laccolithic range, so now I was looking forward to getting back!

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