Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Red Mountain Mining

We woke again to overcast skies and cool temperatures.  We haven't felt as gung-ho for difficult trails as we were expecting.  Mike chose an easy, but tall mountain climb, literally across the street.  First, our 30 degree downslope mentioned yesterday.

We made our ascent up to an old mining facility and explored for a while before rain chased us back into the Jeep.


On our way around the mountain, we discovered that through a long lens, we could actually see our campsite across the way. 

We briefly hit pavement before continuing on through the Red Mountain Mining District.  This entire route was littered with old mine sites.  Yankee Girl was my favorite.


We hit pavement again less than 10 miles from Ouray and decided that lunch would be consumed there.  We got some pretty good homemade pizza at the Gold Belt Bar and Grill and then hit the tourist shops.  Mike researched why we were seeing so many FJ Cruisers; the FJ Summit had just started.  Tired of the tourist trap, we made our way back to Silverton and camp. 

Mike and Pete stopped to wash the FJ off at the waterfall, while Mandy and I went to camp to wash up.  I left Mike with the camera.  He got some pretty good waterfall shots too.

Finally having sunshine over camp this afternoon, I was able to snap some late afternoon colors on the mountains behind us and of our camp. 


After playing, Elly put herself to bed.  We open the tent flap enough to fit a dog and they go in at out at will.  Once the temps dropped, she put herself to bed for the night. 

We have a killer view from camp.  I love it.  Rommel and I spent quite some time watching the evolution of the sunset.

We were on this road earlier this morning:

Its sad to think that our time here is coming to a close.  I think camping at 11,300 ft was probably a poor idea considering the headaches and weariness we've all been suffering, but I have such a fondness for Silverton and its beauty, that I never want to leave.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Silverton's Rich Mining History

We woke to overcast skies and low temperatures.  It has been refreshing to require a light jacket and hat. 

Mike continued with his daily routine and went exploring with the dogs. Elly is in love with tall grass and would run and run and run through it.  She's a pip when she's not grumpy and tired.

During any down time at camp, Mike would wander out and watch the vehicles climb up to Black Bear Pass.

We drove out to pavement a different way, hoping the road would be easier to drag the trailers out later on.  Not so much.  One spot sported a 30 degree downslope, and the switchbacks were too tight.

Two years ago, when we were last in Silverton, we did not make it to Animas Forks.  Today we wanted a bit of a lazy day, so we did the "short" drive out to poke around the old mining community.

Colorado just leaves water sitting around everywhere.

The old mining town was neat to explore.  They have been repairing the remaining structures.  We were chased away by rain, but had enough time to feel sufficiently like tourists.

On our way out we saw a small Jeep use a water crossing to wash off.  Since our Jeep got muddy on the drive in, we decided to partake in nature's car wash too.  (Thanks Mandy for the pics!)

The drive back to Silverton was uneventful but pretty.

We stopped in Silverton for lunch at the Pickle Barrel and to browse the shops.

On our way back to camp, Mike and I stopped to our waterfall to finish washing the mud off the Jeep. It rained sporadically throughout dinner. I didn't mind the rain.  The cool weather, and wet conditions are a welcome change.  11,300 feet is rough on the lungs, but as usual, I'm loving my time in Colorado.

Monday, July 14, 2014

From Lands End to Silverton

It was a lazy morning.  At sunrise I got up to visit nature and noticed how colorful the sky was.  I kinda woke Mike up to get the camera and snap a few shots before heading back to bed. 

Mike woke later on and put Elly to bed with me.  He let Rommel out of the Jeep but left a door open.  Rommel climbed back in the Jeep and slept in until 9:30AM.  Everyone, dogs included, were starting to feel road weary.

It was overcast during our drive out of Grand Mesa NF. Apparently the opposing side of the mountain from our climb is littered with lakes.  We made a mental note to revisit this mountain for more play time.

We detoured towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  It was much hotter than we were expecting at that altitude.  The entire visit was hot, hazy, humid. 

As national parks go, it was small and expected.  Pull offs with short walks to overlooks.  It would probably be more enjoyable in cooler weather and better lighting.  Midday just wasn't fun.  All three dogs were pushed to their maximum heat limits and we cut our visit short.  But not before seeing another DGF deer.  This one I could've reached out to touch. 

Onward to Silverton.  Highway 550 (Million Dollar Highway) is a super scenic paved road that is always a pleasure to drive down.

We hit San Juan County and turned off towards Black Bear Pass.  The road was narrow and sketchy pulling trailers.  We made a left towards Porphyry Gulch.  We stopped off at a meeting place of two waterfalls that crossed the road. The guys pulled out the pumps and topped off our water supply.  The waterfalls both pushed through large snow embankments, making it icy cold.  Rommel didn't care and proceeded to get soaking wet.  The sun was setting behind the falls, so most of the shots I took ended up with sun spots.

We cruised a short way up towards Porphyry Gulch and found ourselves a small knoll to camp on (11,300 feet).  It provided amazing views of the adjacent mountains, the waterfalls behind us and the road up to Black Bear.  By the time camp was erected (we set up the dog tent today) and dinner was ingested, the sun had long set and rain clouds were moving in.  It rained and hailed sporadically overnight and we appreciated the lower temperatures. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moab to Lands End

After breakfast, we packed up and cruised into Moab for errands. 

Mandy and I did laundry during lunch at the Moab Brewery.  The food did not disappoint again.  Mike even bought himself a cask of a local brew to take home.  Some grocery shopping happened, then we headed east bound parallel with the Colorado River. 

Our love for Moab has not waned, and during this picturesque cruise, we decided that for our five year anniversary, we'd return on the bike to enjoy it more.

The gorgeous red cliffs gave way to smaller white formations until finally dissolving into nothingness.

We could see storms far off into the horizon, but did not encounter any during our cruise towards Grand Junction, Colorado. We turned south from there in hopes of climbing into higher elevations for a good camp spot.

In Whitewater, CO, we turned east and drove straight up a mountain on Lands End Road in Grand Mesa National Forest.  The lesser hills to this mountain were a bizzare moonscape type in color and shape.  I was waiting to see the Mars Rover practicing on these hills.

Tight switchbacks ensued. 

 At the top of the range, we found a turn off and camped at 10,000 feet.  I wandered off towards the edge with the dogs.  We enjoyed a small hike and amazing views.  Also, the wildflowers were so vibrant in all of the Colorado ranges.

I went back to camp to prep dinner.  I gave Mike the camera when the sun began to set.  I could tell instantly that tonight would yield an amazing sunset.

Not knowing where he went, I ran off with my iPhone to snap some shots. We connected at the ridge again and were able to watch the color show together.  The breeze was beginning to chill, but it was worth the time alone together.

After dinner, I looked over and saw that the moon was rising behind some light clouds.  I had to snap its progress.

We lit the campfire and played dominoes before the wind cooled enough to chase us to bed.

Another day well spent on the road.