Awesome Fourth of July Weekend at Estabrook!

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David and I made it up to Estabrook on Wednesday and set out for a short reconnaissance hike since we had heard all the bridges along the creek had been knocked out by all the high water this spring. The first two bridges made of a steel trellis and wood planks were washed aside. At the first bridge we waded through the cold creek which was still a few feet higher than normal. At the second bridge, other logs got knocked into what could be used as a crossing so we carefully stepped across the logs to one of our old kids’ campsite. The next bridge was out as well, so after searching for edible mushrooms, we turned around and took the logging road up to Eagle’s Rock and an overlook over Johnson’s Gulch. The road was intermittently marshy sometimes with a light stream of water flowing down the slope.

The meadow beneath the aspen stand was home to countless wild flowers and a cool looking yellow spider. I think we found seven varieties of mushrooms. David knew that a few were edible, but without his mushroom book we stuck with one variety which he knew the name. They went quite well on pasta! I supposed the bear wanted some mushrooms too as it visited us for the fullmoon night.

Upon our return, the rain began falling harder with every step. The road even wetter, we didn’t even bother removing our shoes to wade through the creek. By the time we reached the porch, we were soaked and cool, but it made for a nice afternoon by the fire.

Brian, Erin, and Ellen arrived Thursday night while Mike, Mario, and Moria arrived Friday afternoon. David and I, along with our Thursday guests found a nice hike for Friday morning, Silver Dollar Lake. It is only 1.5 miles one way to the lake and 2.2 miles one way if we wanted to extend the hike to Murray Lake. I have wanted to complete this hike for sometime. I tried this winter, but the trail wasn’t decipherable.

Silver Dollar Lake and Murray Lake

After an hour drive with David speeding along the dirt roads, we arrived at the trailhead. We began the hike climbing a few switchbacks through the evergreen forest. Soon we reached treeline as we overlooked Naylor Lake. The trail turned to a muddy mess at times from the recent snow melt. We slowly made our way to Silver Dollar Lake after stopping along the way to admire more magnificent wildflowers. With all the spring rain, the wildflowers will just get even better this summer!

At the lake, a young boy was flying a drone around! It was sort of cool, since he had a camera, but we were in the wilderness for some peace and quiet so we kept climbing to Murray Lake which was lovely. Only one other person sat along its shore, and he joined us for lunch as the approaching clouds cooled us off. It was time to head back to the cabin. We hung out on the porch, enjoyed happy hour, and eventually settled in for a tasty BBQ dinner prepared by Moria in honor of July 4th!

Eagle Rock and Johnson’s Gulch

Our next day’s hike was an adventurous one. Everyone was game to at least wade through the creek twice, so we took the same hike as Thursday morning up to Eagle Rock and the Johnson’s Gulch overlook for magnificent views and a bonus spotting of wild turkey. Some of the boys wanted to venture up the creek without the bridges, so a few folks headed back to the cabin while the rest of us looked for creek crossings. We waded across not far from the next bridge that was out and made it to the bear’s cave. If there is anything positive to say about the flooding waters is that they knocked the ugly logs that were stuck in the creek near the bear’s cave down river which made for a much prettier view at my favorite place in the world.

Finally we found a few newer bridges in tact, but one crucial one was out. The creek was just low enough to cross. Any higher it may have been harrier than it already was as we David had to rescue Mike’s dog, Marley ten down the creek. After stopping for a few photos at the hanging bridge, we waded through the water once more at Johnson’s Gulch to take a higher path along another logging road back to the house.

I think we probably logged 8 miles, enough to work up an appetite for taco and margarita night at Estabrook, a must! Dessert of S’mores, cards, and some dancing followed for a fun night! What a way to spend the Fourth of July, in the mountains with great company! ETB


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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