Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ridgway State Park, CO



We drove less than 20 miles yesterday just up the road to Ridgway State Park. The last time we were in Colorado we avoided the state parks since they charge a daily entrance fee, but we desperately needed to dump our tanks, so we decided to spend a night. $22 for the site with electric, plus $7 park entrance fee.

This is a very nice park, though, and huge. We are in the Dutch Charlie section at the Elk Ridge Campground, with barely a view of the lake through the trees.


There are 14 miles of trails so we walked a few miles to one of the other campgrounds, a couple overlooks, and the marina/beach. Saw one deer and some interesting cloud formations.





Today we’re moving on towards Gunnison without a definite plan as to where we’ll be staying. Guess we’ll figure it out along the way.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One Last Ouray Hike



It was a small group of three plus one dog this morning who ventured out under overcast skies onto the Portland Mine trail. Jim’s dog bitten knee was looking and feeling much better, and Boonie and Coffee Girl and I were anxious to take another hike.  Mark and Bobbie had to work, Debbie stayed home to cook (a poor excuse to miss a hike!), and Eric and Maureen said they were leaving Ouray today, although they passed us in their SUV without the camper, so they may have just said that to get out of another grueling hike.

This turned out to be a good one, though, not too steep but a substantial enough climb on a forest service road to get the heart rate up, then a nice gentle descent on a switchback trail.

Remnants of Portland Mine.


This is rugged country.


Boonie and Jim giving Coffee Girl a little attention. Jim has no hard feelings about dogs in spite of the incident a few days ago. You can see the old railroad ties still in the foreground.


It was another great hike in Lovely Ouray, as Mark calls it.


And as much as we hate to go, we are departing tomorrow. The owners of the property we’re staying on are out of town, but we don’t want the neighbors to think we’ve become squatters!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bad Dog


But first, the good dogs. Cute little Elliot (Debbie’s dog).


And Joey, a neighbor’s sweet dog that visits us daily. Jim has really taken a liking to her.


And now for the not so sweet dog story. Yesterday we wanted to give our legs and knees a little break from any serious hiking, so we took a walk to the post office, through downtown Ouray, and on to the Uncompahgre River Walk, a completely flat 2 mile loop trail north of town. It was a pleasant stroll along the river with the benefit of fantastic scenery and not having to be careful of falling off a mountain with every step.

About a half mile from the end there were some small houses with backyards adjacent to the trail. We stopped to watch a couple of cats on a carport, then as we continued on in front of the same house a medium size white and brown dog came down the steps onto the trail. I think I said something like “cute dog”, and we both thought it was coming to get petted. As it approached Jim he leaned over a bit to do just that. It was at this point he realized that although the dog had not barked or growled, it was baring it’s teeth in a snarl and he knew he was in trouble.

My attention was elsewhere at that point, but I heard an expletive from Jim, then a whack sound (which was Jim hitting the dog on the head) as it bit him on the knee. The dog then ran off and the owner came out. She was concerned and apologetic but said tourists walking the trail come up the steps into their yard frequently (hard to believe) and the dog is very protective. Of course we weren’t in her yard but on a public trail. She denied that the dog had ever bitten anyone before, said it had recently gotten it’s rabies vaccine, gave us her contact information and a wet paper towel for Jim to clean off the blood which was now running down his leg.


We came home and I researched dog bite treatment on the internet. Jim washed it well with antibacterial soap and rinsed for 5 minutes, applied antibiotic ointment and bandages. He then called the police department to find out where to report the incident and they told him he had to come down in person, which he did. The officer then went to the woman’s house and verified that the dog’s rabies vaccination was current. He told her she had to keep the dog restrained and if another incident was reported “you know what that means”.

Let’s hope all is well and this won’t happen to someone else. And also hope that Jim doesn’t develop an infection, since he would not go to the doctor to get it checked. You know how men are!

The day ended better, though, with no thunderstorms for a change. so we soaked up the view and relaxed. Perhaps we would have been better off going on another death defying hike…


Thursday, July 26, 2012

It’s All Uphill From Ouray



Our main activity while visiting Ouray has been hiking, and there is plenty to go around. On our own we hiked a good portion of the Perimeter Trail, went to Box Canyon Falls,  Henn's Overlook and the Uncompahgre River Walk. With our great guides Mark and Bobbie, along with the newly formed, temporary, and ever changing Ouray Rving and Hiking Team we also got to take a couple hikes we may have turned around on before we arrived at our destination had we not had their encouragement. By hike #3 we learned a couple things about Bobbie, (who is also a good artist, by the way). If she says a trail is short and a little steep in spots, that equates to at least a 2 or 3 mile one way hike to the destination, climbing the entire way. When she says the top is just around the next bend, count on at least another 30 minutes of uphill. And when Mark says a trail is wide, he has a little different idea of wide than I do. Out of sheer laziness, and fatigue from this morning's hike, take a look at Box Canyon Blog to check out our hike on the Bear Creek Trail. Although I lost one of my hiking poles over the edge, and the hike was a bit challenging, it was still quite enjoyable.

This was actually the trail. You can barely see Jim coming down.


Ripples from an ancient ocean look like stair steps across the canyon wall.


Today's shorter (4 mile round trip) and a bit less difficult, although steep in spots, hike was at Ironton about 8 miles south of Ouray off 550 on the Gray Copper Trail. The trail climbed through an Aspen forest, crossing a few streams to another interesting old mine, and offering views of waterfalls and Red Mountain along the way.

We do pretty good for a bunch of senior citizens.


At the old mining site.




Shortly after we arrived at the mine, these guys showed up. I think they were surprised we had hiked up.


We had an even bigger group today. Besides Mark and Bobbie, Jim and I, and Debbie, Boonie, and Lenard, we were also joined by Eric and Maureen, former full time RVers who recently returned from world travels. A good group to hike with, and all the banter made the slog uphill seem a lot more fun. That and the fact that Jim and Debbie and I decided to stop for lunch on the way home at the Ouray Brewery.

Check back for more and better pictures one of these days on Box Canyon Blog.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It Pays to Have Friends in High Places


Our sweet little boondocking spot in Ouray, Colorado.


Our view, a huge improvement over the RV park in town.



The other night we had the pleasure of being invited to a small gathering at the home of Mark and Bobbie, from Box Canyon Blog. Also there was Boonie (Occupation of Independence), a full time RVer whom we met this spring in New Mexico, and John Q, who is camping up at Amphitheater and is a reader of Marks’ blog. Oh, can’t forget their friend and tenant Lenard, an interesting marathon runner, hiker and cyclist. It was a very pleasant evening and we really appreciate Mark and Bobbie’s hospitality.

By the way, they actually own two beautiful houses on a hill with wonderful views and within walking distance of the hot springs pool and downtown Ouray. Both properties are for sale, so if anyone is interested check out this link. We forgot the camera when we went to their house, so don’t have any pictures.

Yesterday Mark was kind enough to load us all up in his truck and take a drive on the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain Pass, then up an old mining road where we parked and hiked above tree line to a hidden lake tucked in the mountains. I really can’t describe the beauty of the area, but we took a zillion pictures. They don’t compare to the ones Mark has on his blog, though, so be sure to check it out. He is a great promoter of Ouray.

At the start, with Mark, Jim, Boonie, John, and Debbie. Somehow Jim managed to be up and ready at 7:30 so we could beat the afternoon thunderstorms.


The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, the company was great, and the scenery even better. This hike had it all.





Steam crossings. Once we got off the jeep road, there really wasn’t a trail.


Mark assured us there was a lake over there somewhere.


Numerous waterfalls.



Evidence of the mining days.



Even some snow to navigate. On the way back this is where Mark discovered he left his camera on a rock where we stopped for a snack. He, Jim, and John went back and yes, he found it. I’ve yet to see the video, but Mark caught Jim in a turtle position sliding down this slope.


We finally came to Bullion Lake. A hike doesn’t get much better than this.



Debbie testing the waters, and yes, it was cold.


Mark and Jim getting a bit close to the edge.


Thanks, Mark, for a day we’ll always remember.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ouray, CO



Ouray is another former Colorado mining town surrounded by mountains, very similar to Telluride. Unfortunately there are not many options for camping nearby. We had our sights set on Amphitheater Campground, a forest service campground just a mile south of town, but without reservations and only a handful of sites suitable for RVs, we weren’t too hopeful.

We decided not to tow the car based on the altitude and climbs along our 60 mile route, so when we got to Amphitheater I went first in the car and radioed Jim and Debbie not to follow me. It was too late at that point with nowhere to turn around, so they had no choice but to try and get through the curvy narrow road lined with shrubs and trees with low hanging branches. We made it out with just a few scratches but there was only one empty site that might have been long enough. This is an old campground really best suited for tents, pop-ups, vans or small trailers, in our opinion. The website shows a maximum length of 35’ but that is really stretching it.

So on to plan B, which was 4J+1+1 RV Park, right downtown on the Uncompahgre River. Again with no reservations we could only get electric only sites for a couple days for $32/night, so we decided to bite the bullet and stay for 2 nights. Not our kind of place, but the location is great, just a block off Main Street within walking distance to town, the hot springs, and hiking trails.


Some sites actually back up to the river, but they are very close together.


After setting up, we drove a few miles to the other 2 forest service campgrounds nearby, but although the dirt road leading to them was good, one of the campgrounds is tent only, and required a high clearance 4WD vehicle, and the other had a couple sites long enough but not at all level.

Frustrated with trying to come up with a last minute plan, we decided to take a hike on the Perimeter Trail, which circles Ouray for about 4 miles. The trail begins across from the visitor center in town, and climbs up to lovely vistas and waterfalls.

Cascade Falls


A warning to anyone who hikes this trail. It is not well marked, (or we are not good at following trail maps) and on our second leg of the hike yesterday we apparently took a wrong turn somewhere and got lost. When we finally came out on Hwy 550 we were a mile away from the trail we thought we were on, and ended up calling Debbie to come get us. Luckily she didn’t come on the hike with us, or we would have all gotten caught in an afternoon thunderstorm.

In spite of getting off on the wrong trail, we were in awe of the scenery along the entire hike.






And thanks to the power of the internet and the kindness of strangers, we are moving today to a fantastic boondocking spot. We’re really looking forward to exploring more of this area.