After our amazing trip on Cimarron Road, we headed to an expensive, but nice, Montrose RV park. The laundry and most other amenities seemed to be closed, but they had a resident owl (see Dave’s blog) and an itinerant small flock of sheep that wandered in from a neighboring farm. The weather was gray and rainy, so we did the mundane chores.
On Thursday, we drove US-550 from Montrose to Silverton, about 60 miles. Silverton is one of our favorite towns, 9000-feet high, nestled in the Red Mountains. Ouray, to the north, has a nice main street, but its real appeal is the fact that the road drops like a rock into town. Too add to the interest, Mineral Creek runs alongside a lot of the road, with colors ranging from golden yellow to a murky turquoise. Old mines are sprinkled about the hills here and there. US-550 is called the million-dollar highway between Silverton and Ouray because it cost so darn much to etch it out of canyons and rock.
Over the course of the day the weather was changeable, veering from sunlight to clouds to sprinkles to sleet to a heavy shower to a well-placed rainbow. We encountered an overlook we hadn’t seen before, permitting us to get some neat shots of a steep waterfall. We found a spot we had photographed years before: three old buildings, one of which is now totally flattened. As the canyon narrowed, our aspen shots became more numerous.
When we finally got to Silverton at 1:30, we were hungry and had burgers and beer in the town brewery. I liked their Oktoberfest beer, even though it was still September. We walked around town a little, heard the Durango-Silverton train whistle a farewell, visited the 1906 unchanged Carnegie Library, and started on the trip back to Montrose. I was sleepy, but Dave had enough energy to try a drive up County Road 5 out of Ridgway. It’s another road with aspens and views. The view was very expansive, but the 4 or 5 openings in the roadside brush already had photographers in them. So we called it a day and went home.
We were on the move again on Friday. We wanted to camp near Kebler Pass, supposedly one of the best aspen photography sites in Colorado. We reserved judgment, finding it hard to believe anything could best what we’d already seen. We bumped along 6 miles of unpaved CR 12 (Kebler Pass Road) to Erickson Springs Forest Service Campground. Being late in the season, everything in the campground is closed except the gate. Since it’s free, that’s fine with us. We squeezed into a narrow but nice site and decided to drive further up Kebler Road. I think we left around 3:30 p.m. and returned around 7:15, have driven about 24 miles. After rising a few hundred feet with boring scenery, we came around a bend and our jaws dropped. It was a 180-degree view of striking mountains and miles of aspen in varying colors. We started to play road tag with a couple of cars full of Asian photographers (speaking Cantonese, I believe), an unusual sight in the mountains. I took a picture of a couple celebrating their tenth anniversary by trying to find the aspen grove where they got engaged. This dirt road was busy! As the light began to disappear behind the trees, we finally decided to head back. What a day!
We lazed around Saturday morning, had bacon and eggs for breakfast (I’m hearing that bacon may become hard to come by. Does bacon freeze well?) We then went on a hike up Dark Canyon. It’s a nice trail, following a stream, surrounded by scrub oak and lots of colorful brush and amazing rock walls. Unfortunately, some horses had trod before us, leaving a lot of muddy hoof prints as well as few piles of other stuff.
Sunday was an early-rising day, up at 6:30 a.m. and out by 7:15 to beat the traffic on Kebler Pass. It worked. We mostly had the road to ourselves until about 10:30. The light was coming from the opposite direction from our last trip, so we found different areas interesting. By 11 a.m. there were scads of vehicles including what looked liked convoys. But there was always room to pull over so it was no big deal. We were back to camp by 1:30, ready for our showers and a quiet afternoon.
Read Full Post »