Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Last Days in Lovely Ouray



As with all good things that must come to an end, so has our time in Ouray, Colorado. Before we left we took Suzanne up Red Mountain #3, which was even better the second time around. Warmer temperatures and less wind gave us the chance to spend more time at the top taking it all in.



Breathtaking in both senses of the word.



For our last hike with the group we chose Blaine Basin, which starts from the Blue Lakes trailhead where we hiked last week to Lower Blue Lake with Kim. Kim has moved on to greener pastures so this time it was Jim and I, Chris, Suzanne, and Debbie. Bobbie had to work and Mark is still recovering, so sadly they weren’t able to join us.

The trail begins along Dallas Creek where we walked on an old road with a very gradual uphill, so much nicer than climbing steeply right from the start. Of course that was to come later.



Then it became a narrow single track and worked its way gradually up towards the basin going through forest and meadows, and crossing the creek multiple times.




There were some exciting log bridges, which seemed higher than they look in the photos. The creek was deep, rocky and fast moving.


These three tree trunks were wired together but they flexed, making walking on them a bit of a challenge.


My legs were visibly shaking and I was dreading having to go over them again on our way down. I guess having survived the first time it really didn’t seem so bad the second time around.


Waterfalls along the way.


The last mile was much steeper and rockier but we knew it was coming after the first couple of easy miles.

Chris and I telling Suzanne that we were almost there.


Getting closer to Lower Blaine Basin, heading towards Mount Sneffels.



Chris found lots of mushrooms, including these interesting coral fungi.


While Jim was more interested in trying to photograph butterflies.


We finally made it to the lower basin and dined among the flowers, which have seen better days. A couple weeks ago and they would have been amazing.


Suzanne, just happy to be here, flowers or not.


So we could have turned back at this point but Mark and Bobbie told us we should go to the upper basin, less than a half mile but steeply up of course.



It’s just a little farther, really.


That’s Jim and Chris sitting on a rock in the upper right, debating on whether to continue on towards the saddle to the right of Mt.Sneffels.


We had no phone service but Jim sent Mark a text along with our location from the DeLorme InReach. His reply “Go Higher!” It was tempting and we could see a faint trail but dark clouds, thunder and lightning were looming behind us so we thought it best to turn back.



The remaining flowers looked a bit healthier in the upper basin.


We dodged the thunderstorm and the skies cleared on our descent, a good end to our stay in Ouray. And although about 7 miles round trip with 1,700’ of elevation gain to the 11,000’ upper basin, it was one of the easiest hikes we did in this area.

That evening we went over to say our goodbyes to Mark and Bobbie, and barring any unforeseen health issues we all hope to meet up again in Utah in a couple months. But for now our Colorado travels continue…


  1. I appreciate you taking me along with the wonderful pictures at those altitudes.

  2. I just can never get over your pictures. That first one is a painting and I love the last one of Red Mountain. Really beautiful. Two fabulous hikes. I really loved seeing the beautiful water at the start of the Blaine Basin hike. Such gorgeous views and the waterfall. Looks like a perfect way to end your stay. Hope Mark is improving. Envying you getting back together with that group of great hikers. Simply stunning pictures. Mine never look that professional.

  3. Oh my gosh. That photo with the red color mountains is fabulous!

    I am with you Gayle. My legs were shaking watching you cross that water. Egads!

    The wildflowers are amazing.

  4. Well-done! Glad you had some clear skies.

  5. Why do you hike with poles? Do you find they help you? I'm thinking my wife might like them.

    1. We've been hiking with poles for years now. They give you much more stability on rocky ground, help push you along uphill a little easier, and cause less pressure on the knees on steep descents. And help keep your balance while crossing streams. Also gives you a bit of an upper body workout at the same time. Walmart sells decent inexpensive poles in a set of two.

    2. Thank you....I'll look into them.

  6. So nice that Suzanne got to hike Red Mountain #3. She looks so nice with her pink shirt and the red background:)

    Blaire Basin was a beautiful and great good bye for this year's trip to Ouray. You and Jim certainly did some amazing hiking with good friends:) I'll miss the area. I've enjoyed tagging along as we make our way west.

    This is such a gorgeous place. I never tire of looking at all your beautiful photos:) That is the most unusual fungi I've seen. Jim's butterly is so cute. The best is the smile you put on Suzanne:)

    Gayle, you never mention insects. How were they? I assume it was a little too cool for them!?

    Safe travels to your next adventure! Looking forward to see where you are headed.

    1. Mark always says Ouray has no mosquitoes but we did encounter some in the forest and meadow areas, also a lot of flies. They didn't really bother us as most of the time the breeze seemed to keep them away, and I think we only used inset spray on two different hikes. It's been an unusually wet summer, which may be why it was buggier than normal.

    2. Thanks! I thought that if they were a real problem, like the east coast, you would have mentioned it:)

  7. Saved by the thunder clouds! ;-) Nice finish to your stay in one of the prettiest places on earth.

  8. I have enjoyed following all your posts from Lovely Ouray. Thanks for all the great pictures. It's a place I'm going back to next year. Now I know all the great hikes to take :)

  9. I would have said "knocking knees" was a figure of speech, until I stood behind you on that three-log flexi-bridge. ;-) Great butterfly closeup.

  10. I've really enjoyed your time in Ouray. Beautiful area.

  11. Seems like you were just getting acclimatized.

  12. What a great wrap-up to your time in Ouray. So glad Suzanne got to do this hike with you. You two have had an amazing summer so far. Your photos have been so lovely in all your posts. It makes me want to change future plans and head out to Ouray. Where to next?

  13. Good to k ow its not too buggy out there!