On the road: Crested Butte getaway
August 7, 2012
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – While I can’t say for sure, I like to imagine Crested Butte is something like Aspen was once upon a pre-Gucci time.
At any rate, I fell in love with the Butte the first time I rolled into town at the end of a road trip some 17 years ago. I was going to spend a night; instead I spent three. To be sure, things have changed in CB – ostentatious homes have replaced grazing cows just outside town on the highway toward Gunnison, and evidence of Mount Crested Butte keeps spilling down the hillside toward town – but more than enough of funky Crested Butte remains to retain its allure.
I was bummed that I didn’t manage to hike over the mountains from Aspen to CB last weekend, and I didn’t camp outside town despite the glorious weather, but meeting longtime friends, also visiting the Butte, for a day of goofing off couldn’t be beat.
We struck out for Lake Irwin, off Kebler Pass Road, on Saturday morning, intent on finding a hike. We wound up on Green Lake Road, though we didn’t know the road had a name or that there was a lake. The first glimpse of a decent waterfall had the three anglers in the group gaping in sudden realization that we’d blown it by not hauling fly rods along.
It would not have mattered. The road doesn’t lead to the lake, I discovered by consulting a map after the fact. Private property – the telltale rectangles of old mining claims – create a hodgepodge of parcels to avoid, including one that borders part of the lake. The off-road climb wasn’t feasible Saturday, as one in our group endures some aggravating knee issues.
Our destination, as it turned out, was a point overlooking Robinson Basin and Scarp Ridge beyond it. The views did not disappoint, and Green Lake (at about 11,600 feet, according to my map) gives me a reason to return.
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The rest of the day was spent taking in the arts festival going on in town (it sounds cheesy, but some of what was on display was truly impressive), eating, drinking and enjoying a free show by singer-songwriter Nina Storey, of whom I’d heard but whom I had never actually heard. Turns out she’s from Crested Butte.
Mostly, I spent the day laughing, which is the best part about getting together with friends I don’t see often enough.