Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cutler Creek, Bear Creek and More…



We’re still hanging around the Ouray, CO area, jokingly telling Mark and Bobbie we may stay until it snows. The past week has been busy with hikes on the Cutler Creek, Bear Creek, and Red Mountain #3 trails. We had a group dinner at Buen Tiempo the night before John and Joalenn left, and met up with John Shroeder (Just Finding Our Way) on Sunday at Mouse’s. He’s staying in Silverton but came to Ouray for the afternoon to meet Mark and try one of Mouse’s famous scrap cookies. Somehow I failed to take any photos. Too busy eating and talking, I suppose.

If you follow Take to the Highway you have already heard about Suzanne’s father. She decided to fly back to Texas for the funeral so we drove her to the Montrose airport after putting the Winnie and Tracker in storage. It gave us a chance to do a little shopping in the big city, since Ouray and nearby Ridgway don’t have much to offer. We’ve sure been missing Suzanne’s laughter and chit-chat on our hikes this week and hope she will be able to join us again soon.

We had several days with off and on rain and threats of thunderstorms, which kept us from hiking at higher altitudes, but we did manage to get in a 7 mile hike on the Cutler Creek trail, a little buggy and overgrown with flowers but a good workout. We were joined by Mark’s neighbor David.

Mark, David, Chris, Bobbie, Jim and Debbie all back there somewhere. The rain stayed away during our hike but the dreary skies didn’t make for good photography.


On the way back we stopped off at an old mine, where we had discovered this bullet-ridden old truck on a previous hike. We were surprised that Mark and Bobbie had never seen it before. These photos were taken on a much nicer day.






The next day Debbie found this bear track just down the road from where we’re parked. Looks like a big boy is wandering around our neighborhood while we’re not paying attention.


Monday was to simplify Glenn’s big day to embark on his first try at backpacking, starting on the Bear Creek trail just south of Ouray. So he wouldn’t have to hike the entire way in solitude, Jim and I, Mark and Bobbie, and Chris accompanied him 4.5 miles up the trail to Yellow Jacket Mine. Chris, Jim and I had only planned to hike to the first mine, Grizzly Bear, but we were all feeling good after 2.6 miles so we continued on with Mark’s encouragement. It was a tough climb, as we gained 2,600’ of elevation.



The Bear Creek National Recreation Trail is quite impressive, cut into the ledge of a rock wall. Some of the trail requires walking on piles of slate, which crunch under your boots like breaking glass.



We hiked to the first mine when we were here in 2012 and I was very uncomfortable on this trail. Guess I’ve gotten in enough hiking on the edge over the years so that it didn’t really bother me this time, although I was more careful and didn’t sacrifice one of my hiking poles down the canyon like I did the first time.







A short break at Grizzly Bear Mine, then on and up through the aspens and meadows.


You know the flowers are tall when they come up to Mark’s shoulders.



A little past their peak but still so colorful.




Lunch and trip planning at Yellow Jacket Mine.







Our turn around point, where we say our goodbyes to Glenn.


It was like sending off a child on his first day of school. You’ll have to read to simplify to find out how he fared.


The sky was darkening so we kept a brisk, knee-jarring pace back down the trail.


P1020397     P1020399


We made it back to the cars with just a few drops of rain and a little bit of thunder.



The rest of our day was spent dozing, reading, and resting up from what was for us the hardest hike we’ve done here so far. It’s a good life, one that I still can’t believe we’ve been doing now for almost seven years.


  1. Between the bears and the scary looking trail, I think I'll skip even the first part of this one. Glad to hear you do rest sometimes.

  2. You've really stepped it up this time… I think you are ready for Columbine Lake, 8 miles round trip, but more blue than Island and Ice Lakes :))

  3. Wow, that Bear Creek trail looks a little "ledgy." Kudos to you for making it along there with no hesitation, and no descents to rejoin your old hiking pole. ;-) Sorry I didn't get to do that one, as it looks beautiful. (sniff, sniff)

  4. Interesting to see so much rust left at the second mine. Must have been too much effort to salvage it during the WWII scrap drives.

  5. I love that part of Colorado. Those wildflowers are gorgeous. I'm sure it's tempting to stay until the snows start to fly. Let the hiking continue :-)

  6. Is that giant flower the poisonous Giant Hogweed?!

    1. According to what I can find online it doesn't appear that that weed is in this part of the country but we don't know for sure.


  7. Nice that you all accompanied Glenn for part of the trip. You are all hard-core hikers now and I'm glad I'm not there to embarrass myself, as I know I would. So sorry to hear about Suzanne's dad :(

  8. I sure would not want to try that ledge either....Shale makes me nervous. Wonderful flowers are all around aren't they? Hard to watch the trail. We'd be stopping every 10-feet to take flower photos. Nice hike. Thanks!

  9. I just sit here in the east at 95 ft above sea level and smile as I hike along on these gorgeous trails with you. I love those ledgy trails. The waterfall is so pretty hidden in the canyon. Hiking among the wildflowers always makes me smile. That opening photo is gorgeous:) How nice of you to accompany Glenn on the beginning of his first backpacking adventure. Thanks for taking me along. We are planning to leave Monday to begin our trek west. I can hardly wait to get back. It was so sad to read Suzanne's news. I'm glad she had all her gang there for support and help:)

  10. Amazing that you found some relics that Mark and Bobbie did not know about!

    I am amazed that last hike was even more difficult than some of the others you've done! It'll be interesting to read Glenn's account...sounds like he will be dealing with some weather on his trip.

  11. Bear Creek has some rather steep drop off's but your hiking confidants has improved so you don' even notice the drop off's, good effort on your part. It's interesting that you hiked past a rusty truck near Ouray that Mark had never seen. Time flys, enjoy another seven years of exploring the West and keep us updated.

  12. Fantastic photos. I love seeing all the old equipment just thrown about. Looks like real art.

    Love the waterfalls photo. And the wildflowers are gorgeous.

    I would do this hike but not be particular thrilled with all close to the edge the trail is. But the views are breathtaking.

  13. This is Allison on Jim's PC. Did Glen get wet? It looks like he's hiking off into bad weather. That's a beautiful hike, if a little ledgy. How much longer are you all staying there? It's such a gorgeous place.

  14. I cannot believe all the beautiful hikes to be had in the Ouray area. Wish we were there to share in all the fun. Your photos are gorgeous!

  15. Thinking of settling in Ouray? ;) Hard to believe you saw something Mark and Bobbie didn't know about. Damn, that's a Huge bear track. That Bear Creek trail looks a little uncomfortable even to me but those waterfalls and views are fabulous.