So far in my Colorado Series blog posts we have toured the active, artsy town of Vail and hiked under the quiet expanse of Piney Lake‘s mountains. My family and I had done these little daytrips only to return home to the comforts of a hotel or house. Finally, though, we got to experience the forest a little more deeply, just a taste of wilderness, when we visited the little lost town of Fulford.
My uncle and aunt have a quaint cabin in Fulford, tucked into the hillside among the aspens. This cabin was built by hand, log by log, with hard work and love, as a hideaway from the bustle of human life, and founded in a place filled with more life than you could imagine – high in the Rocky Mountains.
The drive to the cabin began our trip on an adventurous note – the road seemed to go on forever, bumping and bouncing us along. My cousin kindly pulled off the side for me to take some photos, the tires of his Subaru just inches from steep dropoffs. The altitude rose, the mountains invited us in. As we journeyed further away from town, the less cars we passed – though I’ll admit, the drivers on these back roads are very friendly, waving hello every time.
Once we arrived at the cabin we got settled in and explored the surrounding woods. The entire cabin is smaller than most rooms in houses, only 10×12 feet and can sleep three in the loft. Most of our socializing happened on the porch and patio, where my cousin’s dog, Whiskey, loved watching for chipmunks hiding in the large evergreen tree. She is such a sweet an energetic girl!
We relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company as we ate a cookout dinner on the small stone patio with a beautiful mountain view between the trees. A few other cabins located in a clearing just downhill were doing the same.
Wildlife welcomed human company. My aunt hung four hummingbird feeders filled with food on the cabin – and fifteen or twenty hummingbirds would come at at time to eat! It was exciting to watch them, and you got to know their personalities and patterns. Some birds were daring enough to buzz right over your head, while others waited quietly in the trees until birds or people left to feed. There are three kinds of hummingbirds in Colorado, the Ruby-Throated, the Broad-Tailed (pictured here), and the Roufus.
Suddenly as we were sitting together on the porch talking after dinner, a beautiful red fox appeared at our feet. Mr. Fox, as he is lovingly called, visits the cabin frequently. He scurried along the patio, cautious but curious. He stayed to eat some breadcrumbs and then soundlessly disappeared. Mr. Fox returned later in the night, seemingly charmed by the Grateful Dead songs my cousin was singing.
At dusk, my aunt and uncle took us on a tour of Fulford, just down the hill from their cabin. Fulford’s history is not unlike other mining towns. A hundred years ago, the Industrial Revolution brought workers and families to live in this same patch of cleared forest, a common scene in the Rocky Mountains, to seek out gold and step into a new era of life. Yet as quickly as people arrived, they left for new opportunity, after the mine collapsed, rendering Fulford an unusable, disposable cog in the modern machine.
Today, aside from the twelve families living there part-time, Fulford is a ghost town, humbly whispering the past – when horse-drawn wagons, not all-terrain cars, drove the rugged roads, and mining culture fueled the bustling complex.
This former hotel has not seen visitors in a very long time and is one of the few original buildings standing. I wondered about the people living in this isolated place so long ago. Who stayed in the rooms and walked on those floors, now rotten and fallen though? Who gazed out the windows, now broken and coated in dust? Who else explored the forest at dusk as I did?
As the air cooled a brisk wind rustled the aspen leaves quaking all around us. We enjoyed s’mores melted in a campfire and acoustic songs. In the blue darkness we watched lightning flash dimly behind a nearby mountain. That night, my mom, sister, and I shared a little camper in the meadow next to the cabin. A gentle rain patted against the tin roof, making dreamy weather music.
I woke up to a shivery morning, curled up in the camper to hug whatever warmth was left. I lay there for a few moments, taking note of something unique I heard. Silence. Blissful silence like I had never experienced before. It was primal, otherworldly, real.
But soon enough, the cold was getting to me, so my sister and I hurried through the wet grass over to the cabin, from which happy sounds began to emerge – the high-pitched twittering of hungry hummingbirds, the soft laughter of my family in the cabin, a crackling fire. My family relaxed on lawn chairs set up inside and kept warm by the woodburner. We made hot chocolate, coffee, and blueberry pancakes, leafing through guidebooks on the flora and fauna of Colorado and talking about how this ecosystem is so different from Pennsylvania’s.
We settled into the day, packed our daybags and loaded into the cars, for it was off to New York Mountain for a hike!