Posts Tagged ‘Silverton’

After catching the steam engine one more time, we got propane, gassed up and took off for Silverton. It was a rather dismal, gray day, enhanced by the sight of a coyote. We headed up the US-550, the San Juan Skyway and within 15 miles we were seeing amazing swathes of color. The aspens were going big-time! We reached Silverton (9300’ altitude), dropped the Lazy Daze at the Visitor Center and drove over to take a look at Kendall Campground, a Forest Service campground with no facilities except a pit toilet. About a mile off the highway and 3 miles from Silverton, it looked good. We went back, retrieved the LD and splashed through the mud puddles to camp right next to Mineral Creek. Sweet!

We crammed down some lunch and headed downhill on US-550, back the way we had come. The sun came out for a few minutes here and there, mostly focusing on the snowy mountaintops. That didn’t help us with exposure. But we hopped in and out of the Rav, getting what we could. We have driven this road many times, but not with the aspens in full swing. And it really wasn’t all that cold.

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We got back to the rig and started up the heater, the first time during an evening. We piled on both halves of our queen-size sleeping bag and went to bed with the sound of the creek rushing past us. Dave woke me up in the morning, saying “We had a little surprise during the night”. It was about an inch of snow. We got some pictures before it melted; it wasn’t that cold out. We got introduced to the campground Blue Jay. And then, the requisite rainbow showed up. We are blessed!

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The weather lightened up around 10 a.m. so we packed up the Rav and took off on US-550 towards Ouray to see what we would find. What we found was sun, rain, snow, sugar snow and fog. Red Mountain Pass was snow-raining and was unremarkable. Past that, the clouds lifted a little and the aspens came out in a saturated glow. We stopped at one point and I tried holding my camera and photographing with one hand while holding an umbrella with the other. It actually worked pretty well.

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We continued on to the point at which CR-20 took off into the mountains. That wasn’t happening, but some sun came out and lit the joint up. Aim almost anywhere and you would get a great shot. The variety of shades the aspen displayed included green, spring green, rust, russet, toffee, caramel, apricot, yellow orange, gold, lemon yellow and other un-namable colors. (Boy, I love the names of colors) At each spot, it was sprinkling or not, snowing a little or not, fog was forming or dispersing. What an environment!

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When we began to descend the road switchbacks that lead to Ouray, the fog got thicker and thicker. Since there had not been a single bathroom anywhere on the road, I was planning to use a bathroom in Ouray. Rather than maneuver deeper into the murk, I opted for a hidden spot near the entrance to the Alpine Highway. This is a rocky, unpaved road heading steeply up into the mountains. Who would be on a road like that in this weather? Plus the heavy mist would hide my business, I would have all the privacy I required. As I started trudging up the wet, stony road, a car headed down past me with the driver waving. We probably both thought “What the heck are they doing here?” For me, there seems to be no privacy anywhere when I need it.


We chowed down on our sandwiches, Dave reprised a photograph of a stream he photographed several years ago and we headed back towards Silverton. We returned to the same spot we stopped at earlier, this time much foggier. Finally, we headed home through a thunderstorm. We could see faint flashes of lightning through the fog and snow. Unusual to us. What a great morning. Unsettled weather can be so wonderful for making images.

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On Thursday, we woke up to a pure blue sky; no clouds. It was a bit of a shock. We waited for the sun to rise high enough to light up the valleys and took off on US-550 back towards Durango. The light and the aspens weren’t all that great. No big surprise. One disconcerting item: Dave pointed out the car wrecks thousands of feet below the road. Hope that’s not us!

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So we headed back to Silverton and hit up their grocery store. Flash to the past. Small store, high prices, no red or white potatoes. We bought what we had to have and went back to camp, showered and I started dinner using the frozen beef that was beefing up the space in my small freezer. Leaving the browned beef marinating in tomato sauce, we took off again, this time towards Ouray. We were very shocked that the aspens looked so anemic and past prime. What a difference the light makes.

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We took some comparison shots, progressed to the exact same spot we turned around at yesterday, and wended our way home. I was disappointed and felt a little tired of aspens (Mortal sin!) Hopefully, I’ll regain my enthusiasm tomorrow when we head to Ridgway. Our camp valley has been very nice and the $0 camp fee is especially appreciated. We’re hoping we can find somewhere to watch the Giants-Nationals playoff. We don’t always get network channels. We may have to hit a bar.

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