Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The San Juan Mountains

We made it. It has been four years since we have been here. We have our fav states, Oregon and Utah, a fav road, US395, but the San Juan's are a special place to us. Nothing like them in the US. Barely 30 miles long north to south and a coupla dozen miles wide. Lots of 14's [peaks over 14,000 feet], deep narrow canyons, vista's and Jeep trails galore. Not much of a reason to come here unless you like to go up on trails to 12 or even 13,000 feet. Mining brought people here. You can see the remains of the old mines everywhere. From nothing  more than a dog hole, to mine shafts that go through mountains. Some mines are being reopened. Ever see a concrete truck on a one lane road? Well, we saw them and we gave them right-of-way. Holy Moly.

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Tuesday, July 30 - We drove to Silverton, CO this morning. We heard that the Forest Service is strictly enforcing the 14 day limit.  Things change in four years.  The dispersed camping areas now have names, it's still dirt and rock, but it is fantastic.  We got a spot where we were before right on South Mineral Creek.  We drove to a couple of areas looking for places to stay before our friends arrive Sunday.  We don't want to get kicked out before they do.  We looked around town and it looks busy but everyone tell us that it is no busier than previous years.  Back at CG, we sat outside with our hors d'oeuvres and listened to the babbling creek and looked at the mountains in several directions.  It just doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, July 31 - Since the Forest Service is enforcing their 14 day limit, we headed out.  They had someone come in yesterday and take pictures of all rigs in CG, but they only do it occasionally.  So we have a witness to say that we left.  Also we have taken a picture of Koko in a different location with date and time to prove we were gone.  

It was a fun day.  We drove to Ouray to meet Mark and Bobbie Johnson, who live there.  Mark is the author of one of the blogs that we follow, "Box Canyon".  It was a pleasure to visit with them and they gave us helpful information about where we could hike and where we could take our Jeep.

When we arrived at Ironton, there were two fifth wheels.  When we returned from Ouray, a tenter had arrived.  Nice man and he told us that 30 Land Cruisers were arriving for the weekend for a mountain road rally and they would be in this area and the next large grassy area.  We said that would be fun.  I think that the "warning" was really a hint for us to move some place else, so they could have the premium spot that we were taking.

Thursday, August 1 - More and more people are arriving.  There are quite a few tents, but there are also tents that are off the ground, on trailers that carried the camping gear and on top of the Land Cruisers.  Two came in, one with a popup and one with a truck camper, to my way of thinking they are the sensible campers, after all, it's raining off and on all day.  We are having fun watching the different tent erections and the little children playing with all the dogs. 

Friday, August 2 - Arrivals were coming in as late was midnight Don told me - I was asleep, but the rain last night woke me up.  Thank goodness my "home" is nice, dry and warm.  When we awoke, the sky was clearing and a beautiful blue.  A little later a rain shower came.  We feel so sorry for these people that have driven from many different states to attend this rally.  Heck, we've driven from a long ways to get here and we feel sorry for us!

40% chance of rain today, but it was mostly partly cloudy. We delayed leaving until 10:30 to see how the day was going to develop. We took the Camp Bird road with the intention of driving to Yankee Boy Basin. We drove about 100 yards on the final turn to the Yankee Boy and encountered rocks we could not climb over. Recent rains had pushed some larger than basketball size rocks into the trail. Real Jeeps with 30 inch wheels could handle it, but it was not for the Liberty. We backed out and on a lark I took another road that I could see went UP. I did not consult the trail guide. Had I done that I would have not gone. Ignorance is bliss. Up we went finding ourselves on a narrow rock ledge with three Jeeps coming down. They hugged the inside and we did the outside with 4 to 6 inches to spare. WooHoo! Dorothy had a brief private conversation with the one of the women as we passed. She will not tell me what they exchanged. We continued up and came a fork where three more Jeeps were descending. I waited for them to clear the road. The last one asked if we were going to Sidney Basin. Dorothy asked "Could we"? He said "No, I had to use both lockers to make it. But follow us to Governor's Basin". And so we did. We we got to the end, and paused for lunch I consulted the trail book. Holy Moly, we had just done a Red rated trail, those are only for aggressive and skilled drivers. So much for trail books, we could not do the Blue rated trail to Yankee Boy, but we had no problems on the Red rated trail to Governor's Basin. Oh well, we got to drive a real rootin tootin Jeep trail today.

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Former three story dormitory for miners

27 San Juans032 resizeView From Governor's Basin - 12,000 feet

A chance of rain is in the forecast for the next 10 days.

Saturday, August 3 - It was not all that overcast so we again drove out Camp Bird Road to access the trail to Imogene Pass, a Blue rated trail that our guide book assured us that we could handle. We went about a mile before encountering stairs we bottomed out on. I reversed, got out and scouted and decided we could get down, but would not be able to get back up. And so ended out Jeeping adventure for the day. Before we got back to Ouray, the clouds covered the sky and a drizzle started. And that was the way the day remained until 7:30 until we saw the red mountains aglow with sun. Another day, we want to take the trail up the red mountains in the late afternoon.

Sunday, August 4 - We arrived back at Kendall CG along South Mineral Creek.  We love this place because you can sit outside, have Happy Hour, look at the babbling creek and the mountains - WOW! We were very surprised to find so few people here.  Last Tuesday the place was full.  We got our pick of where we wanted to be. Our neighbors greeted us. They were from Alabama (Mtn Brook). It's good to see someone from home and we think that they are the only Alabamians that we have seen on this trip.  Also fellow LDer Ken Fears came to chat with us.  We love meeting new people and renewing friendships.

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Our Place on Mineral Creek

Monday, August 5 - We sat outside and had our morning coffee and were in awe of our scenery.  Our friends, John and Mary Jane from Nevada, joined us today, along with Lucy, their well-mannered dog.  In the afternoon we took a trail to Red Mountain to observe and photograph the mountains.  We could not tarry because it was close to Happy Hour.  Once we arrived back at CG, they made margaritas for us.  I don't think we could ask for more.

Tuesday, August 6 - I have been planning this since we left home - spend my birthday at the rum distrillery!  They make the best pina coladas I have ever had and I have been wanting one for four years.  They were as good as I remembered; so good in fact, I had two, but since I wasn't driving it didn't matter.  I chatted with our daughter, my brother and as a special treat, my very very good friend, Ann, called to wish me a Happy Birthday.  For many years, Ann, Vicki (another very very good friend) and I celebrated our birthday month together - great memories!  Count me blessed that I am still kicking and have a great time.

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We really like the exposed red mountains. If the weather improves next week, we hope to get some better pictures.27 San Juans027 resize

Telluride is just over the snaggled toothed mountains. Short distance by Jeep trail, a LONG drive on macadam.27 San Juans028 resize

Topped out at 12,000, so those are 14's in the background.

MJ, John, Dorothy and Lucy

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