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Lake San Cristobal


Lake City, Colorado

It has been 4 or 5 years since I have been in this spot, so I had an attenuated memory of how spectacular it is. The view from Engineer Pass rivals Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics. And if you can manage the 7 mile hike up switchbacks to the peak of Mr. Uncompahgre (14309') -- well, you are on top of the world, with whole mountain ranges falling away beneath you.

Lake San Cristobal is the highest natural lake in Colorado, formed by a landslide umpety-ump years ago. The Wupperman Campground is run by Hinsdale County, and sits at 9000 ft. on a bluff along the east side of the lake, surrounded by 12-14000 ft peaks.

All those mountains have a fresh coat of snow this morning. When I got up at 7, the door of my truck was frozen shut, and thick frost on every surface. It was interesting trying to open the frozen padlock on my tool box.

I woke up several times last night, something bothering me, but not enough to come full awake. Finally at 3 am I realized the furnace fan had been blowing a long time, and the trailer wasn't getting any warmer. Before I left home, I turned off the second LP tank because I wanted to know exactly when it ran out.

Well, I found out.

The price of that knowledge was getting up on a frosty night, turning on the other tank, and relighting the water heater. At least, unlike Odin, I didn't have to give an eye for wisdom.

It was almost worth it to see the stars.

On earlier trips, I only used the furnace lightly in the morning and evening, and a 7.5 gallon tank lasted 21 days. I had 7 days on this one when I left home, and I'm 5 days in. The last 3 days have been in the 30's and low 40's at night, and I kept the thermostat at 65 degrees.

So conservatively I'd say I get about a week on a bottle in this sort of crisp fall weather.

The real surprise, though it shouldn't be, is the effect on my batteries. The resting voltage this morning was 12.43V, which usually doesn't happen until the 3rd day. That 5A furnace fan, plus 4-5 hours lighting, used it up in a day. I guess that means I'll have to use the generator about 45 minutes a day to keep the batteries above 75%.

Or else learn to turn off the furnace at night. Duh.

By being profligate, I am learning my limits. After so many years of tenting or living out of the back of a truck, I have found it amazingly seductive that I don't need to be dirty or cold in order to enjoy this sort of scenery. A hot shower every morning puts a new shine on the day. Bacon and eggs with fresh ground coffee ain't bad either.

Whoops! It's only 9 am, and what looked like a thick coat of snow on the peak behind me has completely disappeared! It's only up to 40 degrees in the shade down here, but the sun is bright and powerful. I may take the jeep road over Cinnamon Pass later on, so we'll see how messy it is. On second thought, it might be better to give it a day to dry out.

Goodness. So few decisions, so much time! :)

9/19 Lake San Cristobal 7 am

Well, there's no snow on Red Mountain this morning. It glows like a coal in the morning sun. There is a flock of ducks - make that a cacophony of ducks - on the lake below, practicing their takeoffs and landings, and congratulating themselves.

Ooops. Make that a cacophony of geese. One cacophony looks so much like another.

I have a suggestion for anyone living in a trailer. Listen up. Get 24 inches of flexible half inch tubing - the clear kind used for water works fine - and carefully cut it lengthwise, on one side, making a U. Try not to cut yourself, okay? Then force this U up against the sharp aluminum blade that forms the lintel of your front door.

That way you won't stagger around with a gash on top of your head like I did this morning, going "Oh...Oh...OW...OW!!", embarrassing the human race in front of the squirrels and chipmunks.

Just a suggestion.

I tried to leave the trailer and yet take the trailer with me, going out the door. A difficult maneuver at the best of times, and downright impossible with a cup of coffee in your hand. Now I know why that woman sued McDonald's. If my sainted mother were here now, I'd sue her. Or better yet, Fleetwood, for making a trailer suitable only for midgets. Everybody must get sued.

Other than that it's a beautiful morning. It's 32 degrees, frost everywhere. No built up ice on the door, though.

Is that blood up there?

I think I'll take it easy today. I'm still getting used to the altitude. Not to mention the stupidity.


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