Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Black Canyon, Ouray and Silverton

Sunday, August 9

Today we drove to the north rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison. We had not gone but a few miles when three Lazy Daze passed us. I suppose they had spent the weekend at the state park and were on their way home. Two brown and one gray rig.

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The Black Canyon at Noon

The CG at the north rim is small and quiet. Evidently the attraction here technical climbing on the sheer canyon walls. We drove the rim road and peered into the awesome gorge. Some canyons are longer, some are deeper, some are narrower and a few have walls that are as steep. But, no other canyon combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness and somber countenance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. That said, we think the canyon is worth only a few hours visit. That is what we gave the south rim in 1994. Overall, we think the Curecanti area is more scenic than the area inside the park.



Finally, correctly fashioned mountains. The San Juans. They have jagged peaks. None of that rounded off mess.

We left the north rim at 9 and did not park the rig for the day until almost 4. We thought we would spend a day or two at an RV park in Montrose and shop, enjoy the library, etc. All spaces were taken by A’s. Plus the traffic in Montrose is horrendous. We tried the FS Amphitheater CG in Ouray – full. We continued south toward Silverton and spotted parking on FS/BLM property right off the highway. We have a great view of the mountains, but no amenities, which Dorothy wanted. But, we are situated to do the four-wheel roads in the area.

Dorothy only drove KoKo for 20 miles and Pelli for 10 miles today, but her foot is very painful. The 10 miles she drove on winding US550 gave her a very bad attitude that took a stiff drink to remedy. She said she would never poop again. I suppose that is something akin to having the poop scared out of you.


Why would Dorothy complain about this road?


They paved it in the 60’s

We saw a green LD northbound in Ouray.



After a yummy breakfast of cinnamon toast, we drove into Ouray to do a few tourist things. We got on the Internet at the library and found a FS CG in Silverton with water. We don’t really want to move, but we will need water before the weekend. And the thought of driving there to get water then coming back on the mountain road is more than we care to deal with.

US 550 from Ouray south-bound is, first, a spectacular drive, second, scary since the curb side white line is missing in a few places. Straight down. Guard rails? They are for sissies. They were winching a vehicle out when we passed at 8:30. They were still winching at 1. Two wreckers. The speed limit varies from 10 to 25 and most vehicles comply with the law. It’s called Million Dollar Highway. I recall it from out 1994 trip here. I also recall smoking the brakes going down into Ouray. You should see the original road bed, it was just wide enough for a wagon. [Photo above]

At four, with Radio Margaritaville playing A1A, we took Pelli for a drive up the Corkscrew Gorge. The afternoon sun was perfect to illuminate the three iron faced mountains. We did not have time to get to the top and make it back in time for dinner, but the views from 11,700 were spectacular. The San Juan’s are the most scenic area we have been in since we left Escalante country. We will spend a few more days here four-wheeling. The trail we took today is rated 4 out of 8. However on the authors scale, more than a 4 requires more Jeep than we have. Pelli did fine and it was an enjoyable and memorable drive.

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Scenes of Red Mountain on the Corkscrew Gulch Trail



Colorado is geared to the tourist. Every town has shops to appeal to the tourist. This is unlike Utah. In many Utah towns there is barely a hint of commercialism, much less business for the tourist trade.

We drove south to a CG just north of Silverton. The FS website said it had water, which we needed. The CG has no water, but the VC in town does, so we parked. We later found out that the CG we were seeking is further down the road the dirt road and the park host is a Nazi. We lucked out again. Great views, friendly neighbors, no traffic and it is free.

It’s very interesting about campgrounds – some are very friendly and there are some where you never see the neighbors. People here are out walking and talking to each other – got to love it.



We took Pelli out on the trails again. We first went to the “ghost town” of Animas Forks and then continued on over California Gulch and finally down Corkscrew Gulch. The last trail was the one we partially did Tuesday afternoon.

The terrain was rugged and breathtaking. The only rub - the skies were overcast all day.

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Lake Como

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More of Red Mountain(s)

This small area of Colorado had hundreds of mines in the late 1800’s. Some of the mines were little more than a hole in the ground. Others had miles of tunnels and produced more than a million dollars of ore a month. Most of the mines closed after the US went off the bi-metal standard and the price of silver plummeted. Remember WJ Byran and his Cross of Gold speech? The hillsides are covered in the remains of the mine structures. We saw one gold mine that is still in operation.



It started raining last night and has continued off and on most of the day. The radar shows more rain coming in from Utah. No jeeping today.

We had a double rainbow. The lower one was barely above the tree tops.

Rain, however, does not dampen a hummingbirds interest in feeding. We have a stick clamped to the ladder and the feeder hung from the stick. The “little darlings" are less than six inches from the rear window. We have Black Throated, Broad Tailed and Rufus varieties. [Our bird guide says the Rufus does not live in these parts] We get a lot of enjoyment from a cup of sugar.

We had an enjoyable lunch with our neighbors Jerome and Ann of Andalusia, AL. This is first place we have been with a wide assortment of license plates. Next to us we have Arizona, Arkansas and Alabama. The area has a LOT of Texas plates.


Saturday, August 15

The sun is back! We got a late start on another 4WD road to Clear Lake. There was a knock on the door as we were getting ready to leave and it was an Alabamaian. He asked where we lived and we said Hoover. They live in Hoover also. They invited us to call them when we get back and join them for Square Dancing. We have one of the requirements for joining their group – an RV. They are a RV Square Dance group. It’s great exercise, right Nancy, so we may just give it a try.

The views were dramatic at Clear Lake. The lake was most camera-friendly.

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This is the way I like my mountains to look

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At 12,000 feet, Clear Lake. And yes, the wind was  blowing.

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