August 2014 vacation iPhone photos and video

Tomahawk wall of treasure
A variety of treasures found on and around the Tomahawk Guest Ranch adorns the wall of the laundry cabin. Many came from the original homestead and mining claim the cabins are built on.

August 3-6, 2014, Kate and I took a short vacation to the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado to get away from civilization a bit. We roughed it in a tiny cabin and rumbled over the Continental Divide a few times in the Jeep.

We stayed at the Tomahawk Guest Ranch, which was a little rougher than we expected but perfectly wonderful. Our host was friendly and knowledgeable about the area, and did everything he could to make our stay a great vacation.

The cabin was small — about 10’x20′ — and included a tiny kitchen and a tiny bathroom with a tiny shower. Definitely not a place you want to hang out inside all day behind the tiny windows (the cabins were built in the 1930s), which was exactly what we needed. The main lodge has a pool table and a TV with several soft chairs and couches for viewing.

The cabin effectively encouraged us to spend our time out enjoying the mountains. We planned on that anyway, of course.

We spent a day rumbling over Slumgullion Pass, Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Passes as we explored the Alpine Loop and passed a dozen or so ghost towns and even more mine and mill sites.

We spent a day bouncing through remote BLM lands around the Powderhorn Valley south of Gunnison and through some barely-visible ghost towns in what is now mostly ranchland.

And we came home by way of a ghost town with a somewhat restored schoolhouse and then over the highest through-pass in Colorado, Mosquito Pass, the site of many more mines and ghost towns.

Through it all, I made a number of pictures with film that won’t be processed for a bit yet. But I also carried my iPhone some of the time and I even made a short video with it in the light of a small campfire our last night out.

All the photos below were taken with my shattered iPhone 5 with the ProCamera app, and edited on it using Snapseed. You’ll recognize some of them if you watched the video above, but not all of them were in there. I’ll let the captions tell the story from here, and give you plenty more when I get my film developed and publish those photos.

Tomahawk homestead cabin
The original homestead cabin at the Tomahawk Guest Ranch in Colorado’s Powderhorn Valley. Once available for rent, it is currently in need of repair to be ready for guests again. You can see it’s had two additions over the years, extending the back further each time. The ceiling is … well … low.
Cabin near Slumgullion Pass
A cabin that appears, if not recently abandoned, long neglected, sits on Hinsdale County Road 50 near Slumgullion Pass in Colorado. The windows are all intact, but the drapes are not, and the structure of the cabin appears to be in bad shape, particularly at the back.
Henson Creek Dam No. 2
The broken remains of, I believe, Henson Creek Dam No. 2. The dam created a reservoir with water used for milling gold ore at the Ute-Ulay Mine between Lake City and Engineer Pass in Colorado.
Capitol City ghost town
Two cabins are about all that’s left of Capitol City, Colorado (also known as Galena City). The town’s ambitious founders hoped the town would one day become the capitol of Colorado, but the hamlet was short-lived and reportedly never reached a population much over 400.
Whitmore Falls, Colorado
Whitemore Falls is barely hidden just off the road from Capitol City to Engineer Pass. A short and steep hike takes you down to a viewing platform that is largely blocked by aspens that have probably grown up since the platform was built, or a steeper trail leads down to the waterfall itself.
Henson Creek near Whitmore Falls
Looking downstream along Henson Creek from Whitmore Falls. Kate is picking her way among the scree at the side of falls in search of the perfect shot.
Kate finds a beach
Leave it to Kate to find a tiny, sandy beach along Henson Creek just below the roaring Whitmore Falls.
Chimney on Yellowstone Gulch
A side trip up County Road 24 from the Engineer Pass road revealed this lovely meadow with a standing stone, concrete and brick chimney on Yellowstone Gulch.
Cinnamon Pass summit
The summit of Cinnamon Pass on the Alpine Loop as sunset approaches. This view is looking to the east-northeast across the San Juan Mountains toward Sunshine Mountain and Uncompahgre Peak.
Cinnamon Pass, Colorado
The Jeep at the top of Cinnamon Pass, looking southeast toward Hanson Peak and Storm Peak.
Tomahawk Guest Ranch laundry cabin
The laundry cabin at the Tomahawk Guest Ranch is really more of a maintenance shop and storage shed at the moment, but I like the way the grey morning light lit the valley that way on our second morning there, when it rained for several hours after sunrise.
Cebolla Creek near the Tomahawk Guest Ranch
Looking upstream along Cebolla Creek from the bank just behind our cabin at the Tomahawk Guest Ranch. The gurgling creek was a fantastic lullaby each night we were there.
Hunstman Mesa aspens
A stand of lonely, twisted aspen trees fights the wind on the edge of Hunstman Mesa, overlooking the northern end of the Powderhorn Valley in southwestern Colorado.
Inside the Spencer township school
Looking through a convenient gap in the front doors of the Spencer township school, some of the original blue wallpaper is still visible. The school was restored some in 1997-98 and stands with its accompanying shed and bunkhouse today, just off Colorado Highway 149.
Mosquito Pass summit
The Jeep atop Mosquito Pass with the Rocky Mountains in the background. This difficult road (marked “4WD required beyond this point” on both sides) was initially the mail and telegraph route to Leadville from Fairplay and Alma, on the other side of the Mosquito Range.
North London Mine remains
A steam engine and generator, I think, outside an adit on the North London Mine and just above the uphill terminus of Colorado’s first aerial tramway, which carried ore over a thousand feet down to the London Mill.
Ingersoll-Rand Imperial Type 10
Closeup shot of the Ingersoll-Rand Imperial Type 10 Compressor at the entrance to the North London Mine near the summit of Mosquito Pass in Colorado’s Mosquito Range.
London Mill
On the east side of Mosquito Pass, the London Mill processed ore from the North London Mine high above. If you look closely, you can still see some of the tram towers near the top of the hill above the Mill, with their cables still attached.
London Mill bunkhouse
A bunkhouse near the London Mill on the east side of Mosquito Pass. The hills are dotted with the remains of cabins and bunkhouses for miners and support personnel for the massive London Mountain mining operations.
American Mill cabin
A cabin near the site of the American Mill in Mosquito Gulch, a few miles east of the London Mill.