Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our Last Week In Silverton

Tuesday, August 13 - We decided to drive to Lake Emma.  We were told that this was a pretty drive. It was easy but not as scenic as Ophir or Red Mountain.  I think that we are jaded by some of the scenery - we want it all to be that good.  As we drove, I started reading our trail book.  The mine collapsed and Lake Emma drained in 1975!  So much for seeing a mountain lake.  On the plus side, it was a beautiful day and we did not have any rain.

Wednesday, August 14 - We drove to Stoney Pass.  Living up to the name, the road was very stoney.   From the road, you get a glimpse of the boarding house at the top of the mountain.  The tram lines are still visible and there is a suspended ore car on it giving a glimpse of what life might have been like in the late 1800's, early 1900'swith tram lines snaking up every basin.  I can not imagine the hard life that these people endured!  Could people survive these conditions today - I doubt it.  The afternoon was beautiful, with only a few clouds.  For some reason, I have fallen in love with the town of Silverton.  It's very small and I don't want to live here, but there is a certain romance that I feel with the town when I am here.  I will very much miss the view of the mountains when we leave. 

27 San Juans087 resizeCinnamon Pass and a cobalt blue sky

Thursday, August 15 - We continued driving the mountain roads.  We were anticipating Cinammon Pass, but it did not impress us. Rocky road, full of bikers, etc. all on the way to Lake City. The scenery was not as majestic as on the previously mentioned drives, but still worthwhile. [Some day we will go to Lake City, but not from this side on the mountains. It's a long drive and then you have to come back. Right Mike and Liz?]  After we returned I decided, on a whim, to do Picayune and Placer Gulch trails, which turned to be just more roads up a basin to a saddle and then back down. Another day without rain!

Friday, August 16 - My next wife will drink beer and be able to read a map. We had been saving the northern part of the Red Mountain trail for a day like this one. All my navigator need to do was tell me the mile marker for CR31. She could not do it. She put us at the northern end of the trail and there were numerous spur roads to mines off it and every damn sign had been removed by tourists. Glenda was on no help, she only knew of one road and she did not have a name for it. Short on gas, I returned to 550 and back to town for gas and then to camp for lunch. Meanwhile the afternoon clouds filled in.

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Yankee Girl Mine - One of the few vertical mines in the area.

In the afternoon we went to Montanya's [rum distillery] for "farewell" drinks.  Dorothy says they have the best pina colada's. I enjoyed two Snake Oil Bob's and was snockered. We enjoyed a campfire with neighbors

Saturday, August 17 - The last day in Silverton was one of the best!  We drove to Clear Lake.  We remembered it as a short drive, but it was four miles.  That doesn't seem like much unless you are on a rocky trail and having to use granny low in places.  It took 45 minutes to get to the lake.  The scenery was worth the trip, but we could not stay long because we wanted to be back in town for the noon "Brass Band Festival."  This weekend is their 32nd festival.  Members of the band come for all over the United States and foreign countries.  They do not play together except for one weekend a year.  It's a really big deal.  They start off with the National Anthem.  I love seeing people with their caps off, hands over their hearts singing.  Call me old fashioned, but it always brings tears to my eyes.  The band plays a varied selection from Sousa to Tschaikowsky.  One of the highlights for me was an older gentlemen (even older than me), playing the xylophone.  The selection was "By the Light of the Silvery Moon".  As if that wasn't good enough, he then tapped danced to the turn - utterly amazing.  They ended the program with men and women from each of the armed services holding the service flag while the band play the service song and people in the audience stood up when their "song" was played.  It was inspirational.  The finale was Stars and Strips Forever.  This is a fantastic event and it was one of the main things that I wanted to see when we returned here. It is well worth the trip just to see the band and I will do this again.

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27 San Juans118 resizeAfterwards, we drove to the Hillside Cemetery.  The name indicates how the cemetery is laid out - on a hillside.  I don't think there is a flat spot in the whole cemetery.  The markers on the old graves are so ornate.  Very few people lived to an old or middle age that worked in the mines.  Children died at a young age from disease that would easily be taken care of today with a trip to see their doctor. Another thing that is interest about old cemeteries is that the graves are fenced in.  Was it just a fad to keep families together or was their another reason.  If you know, let me know.

It's time to move on, but I really had to leave the town that I have fallen in love with and this lovely area.

Headed south and east.

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Miscellaneous Notes:

Great views of the red mountains here.

We have driven every Jeep trail we care to, so it's time to move along.

Camping here was different this time. We did not see one tricked out Jeep the whole time we were here. A few stock Wranglers and plenty of stock Liberty's. Quite a few came with no vehicle or one incapable to off-roading. Why did they come?

The weather prevented campfires most nights, but on the nice nights most folks came with friends, so they were not much into meeting strangers. 

Silverton is the only town in San Juan County. Not a store or gas station anywhere else. Radio and TV waves do not make it over the mountains. They have a public service radio station that broadcasts with a mighty 100 watts. The play list is diverse. They play a little of everything. While the song might be popular, the artist they pick to cover is no one anyone has ever heard of. 

People who dry camp may have friends who do not. It's always the dry campers who have to move to hookups so their friends are not inconvenienced. We have seen that here a few times. And there was the guy who bragged to me about how well his solar system worked. The next day he was running his main engine. Happened the next day too. Someone told me he had replaced the refer with an all electric one. His four batteries and limited solar could not keep the refer running so into town they went. Along with his SIL and his two generators. Yippee!

Also learned that they now make 5's and TT's that are all electric. That will keep the CG's with hookups filled.

Memo to us on Jeep Trails:

Last Dollar Road - No interest, too far away.
Yankee Boy Basin - Could not get past boulder field at start of trail. Next time.
Governor Basin - Decent, nothing spectacular. Red rated, but was fine.
Imogene Pass - Missed this one again.
Porphyry Gulch - Great amphitheater basin, but Dorothy nixed the narrow shelf road.
Ophir Pass - Easy road, decent views.
Clear Lake - We did it in 2009, and it was better the year.
Mineral Creek - Red rated
Poughkeepsie Gulch - Red rated
Corkscrew Gulch - One of our fav's
Red Mountain - The best
California Gulch - One of our fav's, connects to Corkscrew.
Engineer Pass - Missed it this time.
Cinnamon Pass - Not worth the time, unless you want to hike.
Picayune and Placer - If you have nothing else to do. Road was in terrible shape.
Eureka Gulch - Not worth the time.
Kendall Mountain - We did it in 2009, but passed this year. Great view of Silverton.
Arrasta Gulch - Missed this one.
Stony Pass - Decent, nothing spectacular.