Friday, July 31, 2015

More Hikes, More Friends


I attempt to keep the blog current but since we’ve been in Ouray it’s been a whirlwind of hiking and socializing so I’m getting behind. Last weekend we were joined by Kim (The Travels of Kimbo Polo), who’s been a real trooper joining us on a couple of high altitude hikes so soon after leaving Alabama.

Monday afternoon we got a text from Casey, the nephew of good friends from Florida, who was in town at the RV park for a couple nights. We had a nice dinner out with them (thanks again for the pizza and beer!), and the next day hiked the 5 mile Perimeter trail with Casey, Erin and their two sweet dogs Stella and Bailey.


Stella with her backpack got a lot of attention from strangers on the trail. Unfortunately she is a rescue dog and takes a while to warm up to people. She finally let me pet her after we’d hiked about 4 miles.


Backing up to Sunday, it rained off and on most of the morning but was looking better for the afternoon so Suzanne, Jim and I decided to try hiking the Portland trail near the Amphitheater campground just south of Ouray. We had trouble finding the trail and after climbing quite a bit the rain started again. Some young guys told us to just hike through the creek. Okay, then!

Ouray, Colorado6

Jim and I just weren’t up for a slog in the rain so we left Suzanne once we found the trail and went for a drive up Camp Bird Mine Road to Yankee Boy Basin to check out the flowers. We were fine driving the Subaru until about a mile from the basin, where we parked and walked up the 4 wheel drive signed road. The sun even came out for a little while before the rain started again.





Watch out for this part of the road.


Somebody had a very bad day.


The following day the gang went back to Yankee Boy Basin for a hike up to Blue Lakes Pass. Having driven up the same road the previous day we knew we were not able to drive our car to the trail head, so we parked as far up as we could go and Mark let us jump in his truck for the next 1.7 miles to the trail. I had to get out in a couple places before nearly having a panic attack, and at one point Mark made everyone else get out, too, just so he could lighten his load to get over some giant rocks. I truly hate riding on roads like this, but I sucked it up and got back in.



 As we were all putting on our packs, I realized my cell phone was not there. I thought I had put it in my pack before hopping in the back of the truck, but it wasn’t in the pack nor in the truck. Jim figured it fell out at our car, and I figured I probably just left it in the car, but he decided to walk back to look. The rest of us made our way up the trail, past Wright’s Lake and on up to Blue Lakes Pass. Part way up the trail Mark realized his phone was missing, too.




Chris and Mark in the lead.


When I rounded a turn and saw Mark on the ground at first I was afraid he had collapsed.


Chris and Suzanne admiring the scenery.


Mark tried to talk some of us into going up to 14,000’ Mt. Sneffels ahead on the right, but he didn’t have any takers.


It was hard enough getting to the 13,000’ pass. The sign has seen better days.


The requisite selfie. We made it! Chris, me, Suzanne and Mark.


As did Kim and Debbie, but somehow I missed getting a picture of Debbie. Kim did good for her first high altitude hike.


It was a beautiful view of Blue Lakes from the very cold and windy pass. We stopped for a snack, but my hands were so cold I could barely grab a handful of trail mix so I walked part way down the trail to the lakes. Coming back up sure helped warm me up.


As did the sun which finally came out.




It was quite exciting coming back down the steep rocky trail. I think this may have been the part that Kim took a little tumble on, with only a few bruises to show for it.


We met this cute dog wearing a backpack, and although it was in the way it didn’t stop him from a little roll in the grass.


When we got back to the road we met up with Jim, who actually hiked a good part of the trail after hitching a ride with Chris and Mindy, Jeeper friends of Mark and Bobbie’s who he ran into at our car. No luck finding my phone, though.

When we got back to Mark’s truck John and Joalenn were there, after turning around before the pass, and had searched the back of the truck. Luckily they found my phone wedged in the back. And Mark’s was under his seat, so it was a happy ending to a really great hike.

We decided we could do another 1.7 miles to the car instead of riding in Mark’s truck, and along the way we came to a traffic jam, caused by this truck who pulled over a little too far to let another vehicle pass.


Luckily for them a guy who has a tow truck business happened to be there and they successfully pulled him out with no apparent damage to the truck.



After a thorough inspection they just drove away.


We got a kick out of all the gawkers taking photos, even though we were right there with them. What we didn’t know at the time was that Mark’s truck bottomed out on a big rock farther up the road and he also had to get pulled out by a rental Jeep.


I think I’ll just stick to hiking! For any that want to take the time here is the video of the rescue.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

If The Spirit Moves You



And it did early Saturday morning as some of the gang piled into our Subaru for a drive towards Red Mountain Pass and a hike to Spirit Basin. Mark dropped off his truck about three miles before we came to the trail so we could make a loop and not have to walk along the road another three miles back to our car. It was a great idea as about the last four miles of our nearly seven mile hike were all down hill.

The trail actually started off fairly level, and included a creek crossing.



Then it climbed to remnants of an old mine.







Then we made a steep climb into Spirit Basin, a beautiful area full of wildflowers.





Ouray, Colorado4

We stopped for a break and a snack.


Then Joalenn decided she wanted her picture taken in the flowers, which led to everybody doing the same.

John and Joalenn.


Suzanne trying to get into position as Mark stands by with the camera.


Us (Gayle and Jim).


Bobbie and Mark


Everyone had to get in the act.


The trail made one more good climb, with great views of Red Mountain ahead.


Looking down on the snaking Million Dollar Highway.


Another mine.


We also saw parts of a skeleton, a bear track, and evidence of elk beds. For a good portion of the trail back down it smelled like we were in a barnyard. We spoke with a couple who had seen the herd of around a hundred elk but they had moved on by the time we got there.

Ouray, Colorado5





It was another great day on the trail. We’re lucky to have Mark and Bobbie as our guides, as this was a place we would not have found without them. And although it was a Saturday we  only saw four other people and they were locals.