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Ok, I've changed the first part of my route to this:,+...857782!3e0

Then once I get to the end I will either go up to the interstate to go west a bit, or backtrack through the route I took to exit Yellowstone on the west side.
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July 8-10 – Colorado – Yankee Doodle Lake

I had the week of July 4th off work. My last week of work would be the following week. I helped my brother move on July 2 or 3, and then was hanging out around Denver. I was enjoying it and was thinking I’d stay in Denver the entire week. But it got hot on Thursday and I checked the forecast for the weekend: even hotter. So I got my stuff ready and asked my brother for a location recommendation west of Boulder.

He said to go check out the Jenny Lake area (which is about 10 miles west of Nederland). So I did. There are two main lakes up there (Yankee Doodle, and Jenny) plus various smaller lakes. It’s nine miles of forest service road to get there. The road was a pain in the ass – tons and tons of medium-sized rocks. It took me 2.5 hours to drive those 9 miles.

Once I got to the lake, it was wonderful. I got up there Friday afternoon. There weren’t many campsites on the way up to the lake. There is a handful right by the lake though. Only one of them was occupied with someone set up to camp. I got a very good spot where someone had leveled out the ground to make a parking spot. The lake is surrounded on most sides by a steep hill, so some of the camp sites don’t have good flat spots for tents or parking.

The road was covered with a big snowdrift right after Yankee Doodle Lake. Jenny Lake is about a mile down the road. Over the weekend, some people got through the drift and smashed it down a lot. Now that it’s a few weeks later, I’m sure it’s pretty easy to get through.

There is a big ridgeline up above the two lakes. This is either the continental divide, or is close to it. At the top of the ridge you can see a LONG ways in all directions. It’s up at 11,500 feet and looking east, you can see over/past all the hills in some spots and see Boulder (or some city that way) and beyond. I don’t think there are any official hiking trails around this lake, but hiking was very easy because there were many tree clearings that you could see up to the ridges easily. I hiked a bit the afternoon I arrived and decided I wanted to hike along the big ridge. The next day I did so.

This is a really interesting area. Clearly someone had worked really hard a really long time ago to make this pass. The road continues up past the lakes and over the ridgeline. It appears they had originally tried to tunnel straight through right from Yankee Doodle Lake, but they only made it about 30 feet into the hill and gave up on that. They continued the road upwards and make a very short tunnel up near the top of the ridge. While driving back down the FS road, I spoke to an old guy that was mountain biking and he told me all about the pass. It was a railroad that was built over a hundred years ago. He told me about a location on the other side of the ridge where a helper locomotive flew off the tracks and down a big drop off (The engineer had noticed it’s brakes failed right at the top of the descent so he jumped out and let it go on it’s own)

Anyways – the hiking here was amazing. This was definitely the most scenic hiking I’ve ever done. When I first looked up at the ridgeline the first afternoon, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it up there. It turned out to be quite easy. (I didn’t follow the road, I went up an older path/road (what had been a wagon trail) that was a shorter and much steeper route up to where the tunnel is.

Also, the lake made for a VERY refreshing swim.

I could only stay until Sunday because I had to get back to Denver to fly out Monday for my last week of work. Because of the FS road condition, I’ll only drive back up there if I’m planning to stay at least a full week.


This is the road going west from the highway. It follows the current railroad until that railroad enters a really long tunnel. (That rail line replaced the original line that was built passing up by the lakes I visited).

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On the way up the Forest Service road.
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The camping spot I used:
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This is Yankee Doodle Lake (the one I camped next to)
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... continued...

This tunnel is up above the lakes. I thought it a little strange to make the tunnel so close to the top of the hill. I guess that must have been easier than blasting the rock entirely out of the way
[Image: 28409726346_9e02bb178a_b.jpg]

Up at the top of the ridge
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Having lunch at the top
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Looking the other way
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Can someone explain these? They were up at/near key spots (places with views, and there was a huge one above the tunnel). Who made them? When? What are/were they used for?
[Image: 27825609484_c9703c53e7_b.jpg]

This was along the old wagon road the went up to the tunnel. I walked up along the ridge on the right third of the picture.
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I wonder how much snow piles up here in the winter?
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Driving back down. This is representative of the road
[Image: 27825634053_a0afa93497_b.jpg]
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The following 3 users say Thank You to FALCON for this post:
Jahmai (05-28-2017), Theadyn (01-30-2017), muddy (07-26-2016)

July 16 – The Last First Day

I bought and started making my van into an Adventure Mobile in April 2015. Since finishing the van around March this year, I’ve had a number of what felt like “First Days”. The first was moving into the van. I did that on March 25. Then I sold my house and drove the van out of St Louis for good – that felt like a big first day. Then I finished up some work in Iowa and could drive the van west to Colorado. Then I had my first camping trips (of this year) in Colorado. Then I had the van in and around Denver for 3-4 weeks – what felt like a transitional period.

But on this day, I had finished my last week of work. I had made my preparations to embark – to leave Denver and head towards the northwest. This time, there would be no more going back to work. There would be no more ‘launch days’. This was it – this was the Last First Day.

I drove north from my brother’s house in Loveland and then west on Poudre Canyon rd. I went up to camp near Old Roach, in what I believe is part of Roosevelt National Forest.

I loved the drive up 103 (from 14/Poudre Canyon rd, to Hohnholz lakes). It had a lot of open spaces, ranch land, etc. I prefer that over dense trees that you can’t see beyond. The Hohnholz lakes are pretty nice. I wanted to jump in for a swim, but the first lake I stopped at (#2) it was cloudy and felt too cold, and the next (#3) had an extremely muddy and silty bottom and I just didn’t feel like swimming then. So I carried on into the National Forest and found a camping spot.


Along 103
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On Hohnholz lakes road
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There was a mostly smoldering fire west of this part of Roosevelt NF. The next day I drove through the smoke and saw some area that burned very recently.
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Campsite for the night
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When I laid down to go to sleep and turned the lights off, I noticed some lightening off in the distance. This group of clouds was lighting up a bit more often than once per second. It didn’t photograph well because it was just within the clouds and you couldn’t see any bolts, and because there was a full moon.
[Image: 27825643333_b0ac28b722_b.jpg]


The next morning I drove west out of the NF land and went south a bit to the sand dunes. I was surprised by how sandy they actually are. It is fine, soft, and deep sand. I almost got the van stuck a couple of times.

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Up next, Wyoming….
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The following 4 users say Thank You to FALCON for this post:
Jahmai (05-28-2017), Madpeep (07-21-2016), tonyandkaren (07-21-2016), BradKW (07-21-2016)
very nice, great pics. the rock formation is a foundation. if there is no wood from a collapsed cabin it was for a tent. these a very common throughout the west. they were built for a more permanent camp and not just if they were going to be used for a week or less, perhaps they had something to do with the railroad. perhaps they were built by miners/prospectors. I have used these before as camps. highdesertranger
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The following 1 user says Thank You to highdesertranger for this post:
muddy (08-06-2016)
Wow amazing pictures!!!! Looks like you're on a great adventure, keep sharing.

This girl is also getting ready to quit a perfectly good job to hit the road and travel, it's great to see I'm not the only crazy one. LOL
~ Cheli ~

Looking forward to becoming a nomad and living free.
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GREAT PICTURES !!! Looks like someone is having a great adventure. Well done Smile
2016 Ford Transit 2500, 130" WB, Mid roof
Full time since Aug 2016
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Great photos. Keep 'em coming!
Still Workin...
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Agreed. Very pretty. Please keep updating us
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Gorgeous photos! Is that van 4 WD?

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She Who Must Be Obeyed
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