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Colorado

We have walked about 600 miles this year across the flatlands of Kansas and Eastern Colorado to get to the mountains. We intend to enjoy them.

20th June 2007. Entering Colorado.With Kathy in Brandon, CO. Our first night in the state.Brandon Co was much like many of the small towns that we passed through in Kansas and Eastern Colorado. It used to have a bank, post office, grocery and 2 hotels. Now most houses are abandoned and there are no surviving businesses.The truck stop in Eads. Eads was the last typically Kansan town that we passed through, dominated by the huge grain elevator.The bar in Eads.Most of the guys in the bar worked on local ranches.The maps always hold a near mystical attraction. It is a common scene in the bars that we visit along the way. Everyone leans in to give their advice.

Here we were trying to pinpoint where the ranches were as we set off the next day for the most rmote section of the trip East of the Rockies.With John, a local rancher and godsend to walkers, and Laura who was cycling from Athens, GA to Oregon to work on a organic farm.

We had been up at 5am for a meeting with a rancher that never happened.Clouds on the road to Kit Carson.

Becuase of the flatness of the landscape, clouds dominate every scene. When a storm is rolling in they are huge.
A beautiful evening as a storm front moved in . Kit Carson, CO.A beautiful evening as a storm front moved in . Kit Carson, CO.Motel manager and Vibe Machine operator, Margaret with her 87-year-old Mother who was the cook in the Motel restaurant.The 94 was desolate. We went 72 miles without services. 4 days. It almost all looked like this.We met Jose as we were nearing civilisation on the Western end of the 94. 

He had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers and was walking 1100 miles from his home in Boulder to visit his family in San Antonio, TX. He had built a cart to carry all he needed.

He was a great guy and a real inspiration.We met Jose as we were nearing civilisation on the Western end of the 94. 

He had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers and was walking 1100 miles from his home in Boulder to visit his family in San Antonio, TX. He had built a cart to carry all he needed.

He was a great guy and a real inspiration.Stu with Pat, Cindy and Jessica in Ellicot.

Great hosts, great breakfast. Terrible hangover.Wildflower meadow on the road to the mountains.As we neared the mountains a huge storm was moving in. A tornado warning was in effect and we just made it to the safety of a gas station before the weather came down.Dick Bratton, the Colorado co-ordinator fro the American Discovery Trail. A great guy and a great host.
From Dicks house we were able to slack pack round the Colorado Springs area. There were some very tight roads so we were glad not to negotiating them wearing packs.Dinner with the ever suave Mr Bratton on his balcony overlooking hte forest and the mountains.Dick fed the local wildlife daily. This is a Stellar Jay.and a squirrel getting a few pointers from Dick.We went up to Denver for the Fourth of July holiday to stay with our friends Wendy and Laura who we had met at the Strong City Rodeo weekend. 

They both worked at the Broncos football stadium so we got to go on a tour.On the evening of the Fourth we headed to the stadium to watch a lacrosse game and to watch the fireworks after the game. 

Page on her way to the game.Rylee in full Outlaws kit on our way to the game.Stu and I at the post-game fireworks.Ryan and Page.Ryan and Laura.

Unfortunately the picture of Ryan carrying Stu was lost.
At the Colorado Sporting Hall of Fame at the Broncos stadium we got to go into the kids room, try on all the sports gear and live out our sporting fantasies.

Stu was a quarterback...I was a cheerleading full-contact ice tennis player.Enjoying an afternoon with the guys from the Colorado Sporting Hall of Fame.Finally travelling in true American style - at the wheel of a huge Ford SUV, driving through the streets of suburban Denver.Kari, myself, Jaclyn, Rylee, Paige, Wendy, Stu.Kari, our sometime companion from Colorado Springs to Buena Vista.Stu by the fire.The dawn of short shorts. From this day the walk will be divided into before short shorts and after short shorts.

The plunging groin line is very 2007.From Cripple Creek we walked West to the small town of Guffey. Guffey is a unique place, largely due to the efforts of Bill and Colleen Soux. 

Bill bought Guffey town hall in the 70s for next to nothing when the population in the town was only a handful. He set about saving the historic buildings in the town. Bill and Colleen have created an amazing place out of the buildings and the land that they own in town. Around every corner is something interesting. They throw nothing away, everything is made into something. 

Wonderful people. Please check out www.guffeycolorado.com and go to Guffey.The back yard of Guffey Garage.
One of Bill Souxs creations. Guffey, CO.Every corner of Bill and Colleens Guffey property has something old and beautiful to find. 

The towns newer residents are now complaining that the art that Bill creates is bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood. I took no pictures of their nice new houses. What a bunch of bastards.Bill and Colleens cat, Monster, was voted Mayor of Guffey in 1998. 

He is a Democat.

From Guffey we walked through the high pastureland that lies between the Front Range of the Rockies and the Sawatch range where we will cross the Continental Divide. 

It was beautiful walking with expansive meadows full of wildflowers.From Guffey we walked through the high pastureland that lies between the Front Range of the Rockies and the Sawatch range where we will cross the Continental Divide. 

It was beautiful walking with expansive meadows full of wildflowers.

From Guffey we walked through the high pastureland that lies between the Front Range of the Rockies and the Sawatch range where we will cross the Continental Divide. 

It was beautiful walking. Much of the landscape reminded me of the moors of North Yorkshire and Cumbria but in the distance were the huge 14,000 feet peaks of the Sawatch Range that would soon surround us.From Guffey we walked through the high pastureland that lies between the Front Range of the Rockies and the Sawatch range where we will cross the Continental Divide. 

Here is Stu with the evening light on him very near where we would set up camp. It was one of the most beautiful campsites that we have had. Sadly my battery died soon after this shot. Gutted.With Tracey (e?) friend of Dundee (thankyou Dianne) talker of politics, person of note. A pleasure.Slightly too wide grin betraying a pale ale too many, Stu to the left, lovey Kari in the middle.These guys had just come down from a week section-hiking on the Continental Divide Trail. They stopped to give us water and the lowdown on what lay ahead. Top men.
A huge beaver house. The beavers control much of the waterscape up here with huge elaborate dams. They build their own water gardens and fisheries. 

Its amazing the size of some of the logs that make up their homes.Aileen, John and Stu at the ranch. We enjoyed an evening of unprecedented luxury when what we expected was an evening of entirely precedented packet pasta and dusty tent.On our way to Lake Anne Pass which is the saddle just to the right of the central peak.Lake Anne.Lake Anne.Our first view of the Western side of the Divide. It looked like a storm was blowing in.Looking West from the Divide.Looking back East from the Divide.Forest on the trail to Crested Butte.Does my bum look big in this?
We camped next to this beautiful old cabin on our first night West of the Divide.On the trail to Taylor Pass.I dont know what to do with my hands.

With John and Elaine (and Myla), volunteer Forestry Rangers spending the summer at the Dorchester cabin.Nearing Taylor Pass.On Taylor Pass. Our highest camp site of the trip at nearly 12,500 ft. The views were stunning. The wind was ridiculous. Cold but happy.

(Our 2 little tents on the left-hand side.)From Taylor Pass. The evening light reveals the sandstone as a storm blows in.A stand of Aspen. 

They are the most amazing tree. New trees grow directly from the roots of an exisitng tree. This means that colonies of Aspen will each have grown from a single tree. They are all interconnected by their root system.

NorthWest of here (Crested Butte) is one of the largest colonies of Aspen in the world which essentially makes it one of the largest living organisms in the world.We met Eduard and Dave in the pub a few hours after arriving in Crested Butte. They became our hosts and guides for our time there. Great guys.We saw mountain biking both as an adventure and as a excuse to get our personal milliners busy on some new creations.With Erika who very kindly put us up during our stay in Crested Butte.
The boys at 111 1/2. Myself, Dave, Stu.Leaving Crested Butte.Walkingthestates forever vigilant in its search for an alternative to stupidity.

Still searching.Participating in a close-fought England versus the rest-of-the-world pool match. 

England eventually triumphed 4-3. It was like 1966 all over again.Spending too long wandering into the forests to photograph the aspen was the root of my problems in the West Elk Wilderness area.After losing Stuart, and without a water purifier or compass, I decided my best option was to head for the nearest civilisation. I ended up at the extremely civilised home of the Townley family where I was fed watered and then delivered to Paonia. 

Many thanks guys, good luck in Texas.Stu and Nira after our reuniting.Stu finishing his final miles to Paonia. He had skated down the mud track down from the hills, pausing occasionally to fall over.Leaving Stu on the road to Paonia.While Stu was still in the hills I was camping in the Paonia City Park with a few hundred bikers taking part in the Top of the Rockies Ride.
At the biker rally, Paonia.Everyone was having a lot of fun.While Stu took the day off it was my turn to make up my missing 20-odd miles to Paonia through Gunnison County.On the Western slopes overlooking Paonia we had dropped several thousand feet since Crested Butte. The hills were barer and temperatures were higher. This area is mid-way between the Alpine area we had just crossed through and the high desert which we will shortly be in. 

Agriculture (apart from ranching) was in evidence again and the valleys here are very fertile with many orhcards and market gardens.Camping out with Dave at a beautiful spot where we had a 360-degree view of electrical storms happening around us. Amazingly we missed the storm.Dave cooked up a fantastic Italian meal in the back of his truck. We ate well as we watched the storm rage in the peaks to our East.It has been an immense fortune to meet Dave and he has introduced us to many great people and places in Western Colorado.We saw Bob Dylan and My Morning Jacket in Telluride. Telluride was an amazing town crammed into a steep box canyon in the San Juan Mountains. 30 years ago housing was extremely cheap and the town was populated largely by hippies and mining old-timers. Now most houses run into the millions.Ted, Dorothy, myself, Linda, Stu. 

Ted and Dorothy often put up visitors from Crested Butte for the concerts that happen in Telluride. They were great hosts.A snap from the car window coming back from Telluride. A storm deveoping over the mountains.
Willy, Patty, Stu, Linda and Mike. 

We were introduced to these guys through Crested Butte Dave (also Stan and Jane who we didnt get pictures of.) They were really great guys and we hope to meet up with them again for a rafting trip down the Colorado .Linda and Mike put us up for a few nights at their home on Redlands Mesa. We played a lot of music and had a lot of fun.Early morning. Mist rising off one of the lakes on the Grand Mesa.The view from Lands End on the Western Edge of the Grand Mesa. From here we could see a huge vista. The terrain dropped 5000ft down to Grand Junction and the high desert of Utah. We could see at least 70 miles to the La Sal Mountains to the South-West, mountains we would be crossing in a week or so.From the green heights of the Grand Mesa we dropped 5000ft in a day to the barren desert below. The temperature rose frighteningly as we descended.In Grand Junction we were very lucky to be staying with Larry Ball. We spent a lot of time with Larry and his fiance, Bobby June.

Stu with the Ball family (sans Larry.)Larry and Bobby June will be married in a months time. We will be thinking of them. A great couple.  

E-mail: stu@walkingthestates.com and dave@walkingthestates.com | Phone: (00 1) 301 538 0308