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…