Why Can’t I Be Joyful?

IMG_4230I move on to Crested Butte to ride out Labor Day Weekend. My hope is if I get there a couple of days before the start of the weekend, I can secure a good boondocking location on Washington Gulch Road before the holiday crowds arrive. But the crowds all know something I don’t know, apparently. It is going to rain, and it’s gonna rain hard. Even some lentil-sized hail thrown in. And, it’s gonna be c-c-c-cold!

Waiting on the Labor Day Crowds on Washington Gulch Rd.

Waiting on the Labor Day Crowds on Washington Gulch Rd.



View of the meadow out my back window.

View of the meadow out my back window.

I can’t seem to acclimate here. The Meadow is at an altitude of over 9,600 ft, and I can’t breathe. Everything in this town looks dark to me. The skies are dark. The forest around the meadow looks dark. Even the wooden buildings on Elk Street, water-logged from all the rain appear dark. Washington Gulch has turned into a marshy, muddy mess, and I am sinking fast both literally and figuratively.

The only traffic up Washington Gulch in this weather appears to be hunters. I see them, covered from head to toe in their camo, toting huge bow and arrow contraptions that scare the crap out of me. Emerging stealthy from the darkness of the forest heavily armed, they look like ISIS to me. A giant Class C pulls in next to me full of four camo men, towing a trailer of 4 ATVs. The trailer has giant coolers on the back, I suspect for one reason. How can such a carnivore as me have such a double standard not to want there to be such a thing as “hunting season?” If they bring back something dead to skewer, I’ll be outta here before you can spell “v-e-g-e-t-a-r-i-a-n.”


My new neighbors

I hear a munching outside my window.  Oh, it's just my other neighbors.  Careful out there, guys!  It's hunting season!

I hear a munching outside my window. Oh, it’s just my other neighbors. Careful out there, guys! It’s hunting season!

I wonder if these "open range" cattle have any idea how lucky they are to be confined to such a place.

I wonder if these “open range” cattle have any idea how lucky they are to be confined to such a place.

Lake up Slate Road

Lake up Slate Road

Finally on the Sunday before Labor Day, for a few brief hours the sun comes out. So do all the masses. Never have I seen so many mountain bikers, hikers, ATV drivers, dirt bike riders than are on this road. I pity those us who have to navigate the Volkswagon Beetle-sized pot holes that were already bad enough before the rains. One dirt biker hits an opposing water-filled pot hole that it throws mud all the way across my Tracker, in the window, and in my face, all the way across to the passenger side window! If you’d seen it in a movie, you would think “That could never happen!”



I really need something joyful, so I decide to drive up Slate Road to hike the “Oh Be Joyful” trail. It involves the absolute worst 4WD road I have seen short of Bear Creek in Ouray. I am relieved to finally reach the bottom, driving on what feels like a 45 degree angle to avoid ruts up to my elbow, only to reach the bottom and learn there is a stream crossing up to the running boards that must be forded to reach the trail. Seriously? I decide I need the exercise, so I take off my boots to wade knee deep across the freezing stream. The way things are going, I don’t need what the local towing companies refer to as a “Slate Road Special.”IMG_4232

Think the Tracker could have made this?  I don't think so...

Think the Tracker could have made this? I don’t think so…

Overlooking the falls from the Oh Be Joyful trail

Overlooking the falls from the Oh Be Joyful trail


Halfway up the Oh Be Joyful Trail, I pass a couple leading a pack of llamas. I stop to talk, and I realize the woman looks familiar. These are Mark and Bobbie’s friends from Montrose that I met on the trail to Spirit Basin in Ouray. I love hearing about the 3 day trek they are doing to Democrat Basin. The llamas are toting the load. For a brief moment, I can almost imagine I am in Peru.

Jim and Melinda with their pack of llamas

Jim and Melinda with their pack of llamas

Yes, I know you're cute...

Yes, I know you’re cute…

Llamas stop to graze.

Llamas stop to graze.

It feels good to hike again. My intent in arriving in Crested Butte early is not only to hide out from the holiday crowds, but to also do some longer, higher altitude hiking to acclimatize for my “big hike” with Bobbie later next week. But thanks to storm clouds moving overhead and in my head, I have not been successful at either.

Crested Butte, I want to like you, I really do. But you are not making it easy…

(It does eventually get better.)

(It does eventually get better.)

Emerald Lake, up Gothic Road.

Emerald Lake, up Gothic Road.

Labor Day seems to have brought Autumn with it.

Labor Day seems to have brought Autumn with it.

21 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Be Joyful?

  1. Labor Day never seems to be easy, no matter where we are. About our best bet is to “hide out” in a remote, obscure private park, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. And sometimes the vibe of a town just doesn’t mesh either, for whatever reason. We’re a wishy washy lot, us Fulltime RVers LOL. Glad you got a good hike out of it.

    • Nina, I think you guys have the right idea. If it is going to be noisy and crowded anywhere you go, find a remote corner to hide! (Note to self: An ATV Mecca does not qualify.)

  2. The dichotomy of holidays . . . They look so different from the vantage point of a fulltimer vs. that of a “jam it all in” vacationer.

    Virtual hugs,


    • It really is such a paradigm shift, isn’t it Judie? I still haven’t made the shift to stop living for weekends and holidays, but I am sure getting there!

  3. I wonder if the altitude is messing with your mood? You are in a beautiful location, that’s for sure, and you’ve seen some cool animals up there. (Wouldn’t it be FUN to hike with llamas?) Maybe your up-coming hike with Bobbie will snap you out of it. Or it’s just a normal “downtime.” I’d guess most of us have those sometimes. They last a bit, then the sun shines again. 🙂

    • Hi, Barbara — Jeanne and I were speaking fondly of you over lunch yesterday. Were your ears burning? 😉 Yes, the altitude was definitely messing with my mood. I just didn’t feel well the entire time I was in Crested Butte, but I wasn’t sure it was all altitude until I returned to feeling like myself at little lower elevation. But I am definitely “solar powered,” and my mood always darkens with the looming clouds.

  4. You are probably right about missing your regular exercise and then all the gloomy weather. You did come up with some gorgeous photos, as usual. I enjoy your blog very much. Thank you. I hope to be a full time RVer in about a year. So much to think about and learn – kind of overwhelming at times.

    • Thank you Pamela B, for the nice comment. I wish you the best of luck getting ready to go full time. I learned so much from other bloggers, so don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions!

  5. I just laughed my a– off. You are so funny even in a low mood. Loved the picture of you alone at Washington Gulch waiting for the crowds. Thank you I appreciate your blog.

  6. The Change of weather always brings with it a sense of foreboding for me. I am never ready for the summer weather to go and the sun can be so fickle in the fall, teasing my hopeful spirit with a few days of bliss then followed by days and days of grey. You have also had many emotional blows in your personal life these past few months that at times must feel like a huge cloud following you. You did find some great photos tho !! It must be about time to come out of the mountains and follow the sun and warmth. The sun will return….

  7. When I have been bothered by altitude, it has manifested in feeling disgruntled. Sometimes, I’m disgruntled at low elevations, too; there seems to be no scientific explanation for that.

  8. I did find on our trip through southern AZ and northern NM when I was above 8K’ in altitude that I did not function as well as I did at lower altitudes. We live fifty miles from the Atlantic at about 340′ most of the time and that air is a lot thicker. I would love to be able to spend more time at altitude so that I would acclimate and get more enjoyment. As to hunters, be kind. They too have their function in the wild. Wear orange when you hike too.

  9. Allen, yes, I too lived most of my life as a flatlander. Funny, the altitude didn’t bother me much in Ouray, but Crested Butte seemed to tire me from just the simplest of tasks. As for the hunters, it’s not the hunting that bothers me as much, as I am a carnivore. But some of them seem to have a “Get out of my territory” attitude toward boondocking RVers…Yes, “Orange is the new Alive!” 😉

  10. One rainy day can be kind of peaceful, but not a string of cold, wet, and dreary ones when you want to be outside. Two nights ago, we had over 5 inches of rain and hail while camping at the river in the motorhome. There wasn’t much sleep that night!

  11. The thing I miss the most about Crested Butte is: paradise potatoes!
    I have been on every trail out there hiking and biking, my all-time favorite is Bear Creek Pass, a 20 plus mile death march.

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