Our 2008 Fall Vacation, Colorado, September 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008: We arrive in Colorado. The tarmack at Montrose Airport was wet when we deplaned. It had rained here last night and this morning, but, up in the higher elevations, snow blanketed the slopes creating spectacular scenery for the drive to Ouray. Kathy was relieved to be on the ground. While she waited for our luggage, I collected our Ford Explorer from the Hertz counter. The first order of business after leaving the airport was to buy groceries and a cooler, both of which we found in the local Walmart. The snow-capped San Juans beckoned us as we traveled to Ouray. We made a brief stop in Ridgway to check on hotel rates for later in the week. The Ouray Victorian Inn would serve as our home for the first several nights. We had stayed here in the past and had liked it--nothing fancy, but clean. We noticed it was a little more rundown than in the past, but soon learned it was in the process of being purchased by a new owner. That explained the lack of attention to repairs or improvements. Our first dinner in town would be at Buen Tiempo (of course) with dessert at Mouse's Chocolates. We were so tired walking back to the hotel we almost walked into a young deer grazing by the side of the road.
Overlook of Ouray from the Sutton Mine Trail
Thursday, September 11, 2008: Sutten Mine Trail. Our original plan was to hike the Sutton Mine Trail in the morning, return for lunch, then perhaps pick up a short trail in the afternoon, but plans got changed. First, we headed down the road into the Ice Park rather than heading up the trail right next to it, a minor navigational error that was particularly embarrassing seeing as how we have hiked this trail in the past. After about a mile, we decided this was not the correct route and doubled back. Conveniently located at the trailhead (and completely overlooked by us) was a little sign warning that the road was not the correct way to go! We rerouted ourselves up the currect trail. The hike was as beautiful as we remembered it. Rain struck just as we got to the old mine buildings, just like the last time we were here, so we ducked into the cabin and had a snack. Then we explored further up the mountain to trace the cables uphill from Sutton Mine. Once we realized how far up the mountain they went, we doubled back, but not before another rain shower forced us to seek shelter under some trees. We logged a total of about 7.5 miles for the day.
An old table inside the Sutton Mine building
Friday, September 12, 2008: Silver Cloud Mine, 2.7 miles. It rained all night and snowed some more in the mountains, so we decided to drive south to see the scenery--we weren't disappointed. The weather had cleared nicely, so we chose to take a hike and, since we were in the Red Mountain Pass area, settled on a trip up to see Silver Crown and Silver Cloud mines. I tried to take the small trail to Beckie Basin above Silver Cloud Mine, but it quickly became too muddy and treacherous.
Snow covered mountains near Red Mountain Pass
The view up the valley toward Silver Cloud and Silver Shield Mines
Saturday, September 13, 2008: Corbett Creek - Dallas Trail loop with a side trip to Moonshine Park for a total of 9 miles. Beautiful clear skies dominated the weather today. We saw a deer and heard an Elk. According to the Ouray Hiking Guide by Kelvin Kent, the section up to Moonshine Park is good for bear sightings. Once Kathy heard this, the volume of her conversation became significantly louder! Needless to say, we didn't see anything there. We sat in Moonshine Park and had some snacks before making our way home again.
Kathy celebrates getting to Moonshine Park