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The Great Hughes Family Summer Colorado Vacation

1970 - 2d Year at Fort Carson

This was the FIRST time, Colorado Native as I am, to take my family - wife Patsy, teen son David, young teen daughter Rebecca, younger yet son Edward - with David's friend Steve Davis, to see the natural Glory that is Colorado!!

I did not own a camper, but one of my Master Sergeants was happy to loan us his cab-over camper and truck for the 3 week trip, camping, hiking, sightseeing and picture taking of my beloved Colorado.


The Camper and Truck at our quarters #15 at Carson On the road to start

Now we were going to go all across the state, cross the Continental Divide twice.

The older boys and me at the 10,000 foot Pass Young Edward and Rebecca

We gawked down at the deep Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Then, since my plan was to take the two older boys with me on a long hard hike, while Patsy, Rebecca, and young Edward would take a side, driving trip, we started at Vallecito Reservoir where my hike would end, and Patsy would rejoin us with the camper.

Repacking our gear before starting on the Train The camper was too small for all of us, so we boys slept outside


First, the great Durango to Silverton Narrow-Gauge Steam Train ride Rebecca watching the scenery go by from the open platform cars.

Then, as planned, we three older males would get off the train at a bridge across the Animas River into what was called the "Chicago Basin", to start our long hike, while the train would go onto Silverton, where Patsy and the younger kids would sightsee the historic old Mining Town, and by the end of the day return to Durango, where they could rejoin our Camper, and take their side trip.

Seventeen year old David noted while I was assembling this trip diary, that I really did this to give him some badly needed teenager 'attitude adjustment.' By forcing him to take a 35 mile hard mountain hike with me. Good therapy for fractious teens.

Ticket taker


The Halfway stop and bridge Beginning of the Hike


Marker near the 14,000 foot and climbing-dangerous 'El Diente' Mountain. Crossing the Vallicito river. Break on the other side of the Chicago Basin Pass. I was, at 42 as a soldier, in tip top condition. The boys learned what it takes.


Rebecca and Edward at the D&RG Steam Engine Sighseeing Silverton, 46 miles from Durango A small 'Boot Hill' graveyard in Silverton

The 'side trip' for Patsy and the two kids, was to drive on from Durango to the famed Mesa Verde and its Cliff Dwellings.

Patsy in the foreground The kids climbing into the Cliff Dwellings

Then we all joined up for the long trip, with many stops, back home. No trip in Colorado would be complete without a visit to the famous Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley. The Valley is an ancient lake bed, 100 miles long and 50 miles wide. Flat as a pancake. Flanked by the 14,000 ridge of peaks on the Eastern side - the Sange de Cristo mountain range, and by the somewhat lower Rio Grande range on the west. Winds blowing west to east across that flat, dry, valley carried sand that was too heavy to go over the high mountain range on the west. So it built up, over millenia, the great Sand Dunes.

The Dunes looking from west to east. The improbable river that runs past the dunes.


The Boys gawking and shooting Patsy, Ed, and Rebecca taking a last look for this stop was the end of our vacation.


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