A muddy good time
Meeting Lummis family for a well-deserved hike above Rifle Falls was sloppy, but worth the trek
The Lummis family is a gas to hike with. Through rain and hail, sunshine and mud, we slogged along a delightful wildflower-filled trail leading to the top of the Flattops above Rifle Falls last week.
We’d never met before but will certainly meet again. This cast of characters included Max, Emma and Vera Lummis from Hong Kong, Ian, Asher, Kristen and Jamie Lummis from Grand Junction, and Chawie the wonder dog, a rescue and rehabilitation dog from our state’s penal system.
Our meeting was a result of the Lummis’ generosity in bidding on a guided hike as part of last year’s silent auction at the annual Child Migrant Services Benefit Concert. We couldn’t get together for a hike last year since Max, Emma and Vera live in Hong Kong.
Max has been there for the past 28 years on what he called an extended college semester abroad. They return each year, however, to visit their home in Grand Junction and play with
Max’s little brother, Jamie, and his family.
What better way to spend family time than harassing each other up the trail in the middle of the lush, cool Rocky Mountains.
Max was outfitted with all the gear needed to make this trek into Colorado’s higher country. We didn’t want to travel too high in elevation. After all, Hong Kong is at sea level. This trail ascends in elevation from 7,500 feet at the trail head to about 9,200 feet at the Bar HL Road (Garfield County Road 211), 5.2 miles up the trail.
The lower stretch of trail wanders through beautiful flower-filled mountain meadows and stands of aspen along Three Forks Creek. At about 8,500 feet in elevation, the aspen give way to sweet-scented dark timber.
We began our trek in sunny weather and by the time we made it to Tangle Gulch, about three miles up the trail, we were ready for lunch. That’s when it began to rain and hail, and that’s when Max covered himself with the ever-
dependable space blanket, earning the nickname Uncle Lunar Landing. He had all the cool gear in the world, but left the rain jacket in the car.
Not a problem with the lightweight, emergency space blanket, first developed by NASA in 1964.
“Hey, you can see through this thing,” Max noted. “Hold up your hand, and I’ll tell you how many fingers you’re holding up.”
Brother Jamie grinned.
One,” replied Max, muttering something else under his breath.
The Lummis’ generosity directly benefited a great program here in the valley. Child & Migrant Services (CMS) was founded in 1954 by Vera Foss, Margaret Talbott and Dorothy Power, local women dedicated to providing community services for migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families in Mesa County, “so that they may live and work with dignity in our community.”
“At a time when treatment of migrant farm workers in the U.S. was often dismal, and when the voices of women were often not heard, these women and others like them made tremendous contributions.
Agricultural labor practices in Mesa County are better than in many other places largely because of their dedication and compassion,” reads the CMS Web site, http://www.migrantservicesgv.org.
CMS hosts several special events each year. Some are for the general public, some are for the workers and their families, but you are always welcome to any of the special events.
The Lummis family hit the benefit concert last year where there was a silent auction with lots of really nice things in it, not just muddy hikes with me.
To find this trail head, travel east on Interstate 70 to Rifle. Take either Rifle exit. We took the West Rifle exit, then the bypass to Meeker, and traveled around the south side of town. You can also take the main exit in Rifle and go through town to see how it’s growing.
Either way, head north on Highway 13 to the old bowling alley and Fireside Inn, then turn right, or east, on Highway 325. From there, you’ll travel 11.3 miles to the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, which is partially open to the public, and it’s really cool.
Continue past the hatchery for five miles to the trail head. The road takes you through Rifle’s city park, one of the neatest mountain parks anywhere, even though it’s 15 miles from town. It’s situated in a narrow, yet lush green riparian valley along the creek.
The trail head is well-marked, and the sign says mileage is marked by brown 4x4 posts with yellow numbers along the trail. The grasses and flowers were so high, we only saw one marker.
Nonetheless, the trail was easy to follow.
Always remember, the weather can change on a moment’s notice, so go prepared.
A reminder from Uncle Lunar Landing: Don’t forget the emergency space blanket.