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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Scarred Trails/Thunderous Waterfalls

Updated: May 24, 2022

~Tuesday, May 17, 2022~

Day 702

Two strikes for the day….the Kawuneeche Visitor Center and the Kauffman House Museum. It seems Google isn’t quite as reliable as we thought. This time, instead of just “reading” an empty parking lot, we walked up to the doors of the visitor center where we might read more accurate information. Closed both Mondays and Tuesdays. Normally, we wouldn’t be trying this hard to get into a visitor center, but we are wanting to gather information about the trails and what has been affected by the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire. One, hiking in burned out forests is unsafe, and two, it’s not all that desirable to hike through a blackened, skeletal forest. As we look at the scarring, we wonder if the lush forest it once was, will return. We’ve read studies that say the baby trees don’t thrive in higher heat and drought conditions brought on by climate change. Nor do they return after high-severity fires which seems to be more common these days. The Cameron Peak fire was one such fire. Low intensity fires will at least leave some trees behind that would drop seeds, and begin the process of forest regeneration. But with fires like the West is seeing, Pine and Douglas Fir really struggle to make a come-back. There’s thought that the scarred areas of these high intensity fires don’t have the nutrients necessary to even force grow new plantings, leaving the area to be replaced with grass. Gosh, I sure hope not. Between the bark beetle and these fires, things are not looking too good.

Yet, despite damaged trails and being 2 weeks too early in this part of Colorado, we are making the best of things. Reading the all too familiar signs that say, ‘See you in the summer’, is not enough to sway our fun. Living most of our lives in California, this is such a foreign thing to us. Our type of cold just doesn’t influence or alter our day to day. We certainly would have preferred seeing Colorado in early summer, but that would have delayed our northerly route towards Alaska. Our entire Spring schedule, after spending our Winter in the South, has revolved around landing in the frozen North late June with no delays so far. 🤞

Relying on Google too much, we stopped at the Kauffman House Museum in Grand Lake, only to see a “closed” placard and another “see you in the summer!” sign.

Built right on the lake, at least we had a beautiful view from its porch where we read a few informational signs about its history. The home was built in 1892 by the Kauffman family, operating as a home and hotel until 1946.

The house had a few subsequent owners until 1973 when the Grand Lake Historical Society purchased it and restored it as a museum. Today, it is the only remaining log hotel built in Grand Lake prior to 1900 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places; also recognizing the westward movement example Mr. Kauffman set with the lure of mining, trapping, fishing and tourism brought to the Grand Lake area.

As the sound of thunder clapped overhead (always love that sound), we enjoyed seeing the other parts of downtown we hadn’t seen the day before, particularly the neighborhoods with a mix of grandiose multi-million dollar cabins and small, rustic, funky cabins. Big or small, many of these structures appear to be rentals or second homes. And if you’re lucky enough to be up on the hill, your vantage point would have stunning views of the surrounding peaks and lake.

On our walking course, we stumbled on a sign that read ‘Adams Falls, 1 mile’ . So of course, we had to investigate. So strange that we had not read a thing about it before (the unexpected things are usually the best!) The parking lot for the waterfall also happens to be the trailhead for the East Inlet hike, one we were interested in hiking. Coincidentally, after reading the trail map and warning signs about “mountain lion territory” , we overheard a woman (a local) talking about a mountain lion sighting on her last visit to the Falls about a week prior. Luckily, with her being in a group, it gave her a sense of safety, but still got a little shaken up from the experience. I suppose it would be quite amazing to see one in the wild, but would prefer they keep to their isolated ways. Thankfully, they are solitary creatures, generally wanting to avoid us. Alrighty then, I won’t be relaxing the remainder of the hike.

Adams Falls, named after Jay E. Adams, an early settler of Grand Lake, Colorado, is one that you don’t have to work too hard to get to. In our experience, you would have to hike quite a ways to get to waterfall views like this one. After our .3 mile hike through groves of aspens and pines, we had already arrived. There was a viewing area looking over the Falls, which at this time of year, is a thundering force with the snow melt.

In fact, before we even got on the trail, we had heard a little bit of the rumble from the parking lot. From the overlook, you can continue the loop trail even higher, which leads you to calmer

sections of the East Inlet River and beautiful views of Grand Lake itself.

Now that we had seen where the East Inlet trailhead was, we wanted to check out the North Inlet trailhead just to see the map and get a feel for the route. Per the signs, it was suggested to avoid this trail due to the excessive fire damage. East Inlet received some, but nothing like the North Inlet. Hopefully we’ll learn more about these WHEN THE VISITOR CENTER OPENS!!

Being a pretty chilly day (or is it chili?? 🤭), Jeff was in the mood to make his dad’s prize winning bowl of hot stuff. The challenge…..finding all those ingredients in such a small town. We started at the small market right in town which appeared to only have an aisle of bread and beans and maybe a few produce items. O.k. then, moving on to the more inviting and well-stocked Mountain Market just outside of town. And it wasn’t as expensive as we had read about. Jeff’s main goal of securing a ½ lb. of chuck roast was met by the most adorable older gentleman behind the small, but well-stocked counter. About in his mid-70’s, he looked perplexed about Jeff’s request for a half-pound cut. With the one slab of chuck roast, Jeff suggested he weigh the whole thing first. 1 pound. Second suggestion….”Perfect, let’s just cut that in half!” to which the older gentleman replied, “Brilliant!!” After Jeff’s 15-minute visit to the meat counter, the clerk said, “Thanks for being my first customer!” O.k. that explained everything. But what better person than Jeff to be your first customer (so patient and understanding). It really gave us a giggle. In the end, we found everything we needed to make a perfect bowl of chili.

Wildlife alert: We saw another fox on our dusk-time walk, which got Sadie all riled up of course. Jeff and Sadie have already been fortunate to see a moose near our campsite. Hopefully I’ll have my chance before leaving.

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