(Wednesday, Sept 27)
Wednesday morning -- no concrete plans. A cold front was to move through today, so we decided it wasn't a good day to climb Elbert -- could get windy, especially above the tree line, and today was the best chance of a freak storm up there. Sam was disappointed in his tungsten-blue pictures of the Maroon Bells from Monday, and I was thinking Ghost Town. Vicksburg sounded big -- and more touristy, and I was thinking Independence -- on the other side of the pass. Sam liked that idea, because if we were going that far we might as well go all the way to the Maroon Bells again on our 5 day pass. So that's what we did. Got a little later start but didn't stop to take many pictures over the pass this time. There was a bit of a traffic jam in Aspen -- we sat dead still for about 20 minutes. We ended up getting to the Maroon Bells about the same time as Monday.
Color was still good, but many of the trees that were dropping leaves on monday were now bare or nearly bare, and you could see the grey scars on the mountainsides.
Vicki decided to try her bandaged heel out and hike to the bridge past the lake. I took a few pictures and sat by the lake enjoying the atmosphere and the view. Talked to a professional photographer ... probably in his 60's... and his wife. I asked her if she was a shutter widow, too. She laughed and said yes, she just learned to tag along and enjoy and listen. A couple of young ladies came along and were taking shots of each other. I advised them to use the fill flash so they could see their faces and I showed them how to do it on their camera -- and offered to take a picture of them together. Worked out fine.
A quite mature but energetic woman approached me asking if she could impose on me. I figured she'd want me to take a picture of her in front of the mountains and email it to her. Close. She didn't want to be in the pictures, she just wanted me to send her one that I took. Neither of us had a pen or paper... but I found my checkbook. There were carbons in there, and I figured I could scratch her address out with a small stick on one of the carbons -- and it worked. So I'll send it to her.
Mean time, Sam walked around the lake as well taking pictures and caught up with Vicki at the bridge. We soaked up a little more "Bells", and headed off to Independence. Sam went back to Wolf Photo bought a 4-pak of 3V camera batteries -- his Nikon takes 3 in a little emergency pak to replace the proprietary Li rechargable battery that comes with it.
We'd forgotten lunch, but Sam and Vicki had protein bars from the day before and Sam still had a bag of trail mix, so we made do.
Got to the abandoned metropolis of Independence around 2:00 pm at about 10,800 feet. It was once a stagecoach stop between Twin Lakes & Aspen, and apparently also housed miners at one time. There are about 15 or so buildings there, half of which are still basically standing. All old wooden buildings. Pretty neat, and what a view! Guess it was just to cold & snowy and remote to remain a town.
We decided to go back to the cabin and grab some beer & whiskey and head back to the Willis Gulch trailhead which was right by a nice sized mountain stream with a big gravel/boulder bar and braided channels. We sat and watched the sunset, talked, had a few brewskies, threw rocks in the river.... just hung out -- which is something I never do enough of out in the mountains. I'm always trying to squeeze one more thing in. It was 3 hours well spent.
Came back to the cabin and made a spaghetti dinner, and I made up some oatmeal & boiled eggs for the morning... because tomorrow.... is Elbert Day!