Monday, July 30, 2012

Yes, life is good

 Well, after driving over 1300 miles in 4 days, I am finally back home and reunited with my girls. The drive home was so much better than the one going over, yet is wasn't much fun. It is so hard to leave the area around Ouray...... it holds you like a bear trap. The beauty of the mountains is unlike anywhere else. Sure Utah has some awesome vistas, and Idaho too, but no where else I know comes close to Ouray! The sad thing is, fotos do not do it justice. You have to see it to believe it. Above I tried to frame the Jeeps with Red mountain as a background. Its an OK foto, but in real life..... it kicked ass!
 This foto of Bridal veil falls also is a good one..... but real life is better. You can get within 50 yards of them at the bottom and as you stand there, you can feel the drops almost like rain. It cools you off and feels so good. It attracts the attention of many tourists. Black Bear pass ends on this road. From the service road that goes to the power plant and down is 2 way traffic. There were cars and trucks parked all over the road as people hiked over to see it from the top. Thank heavens its one way above that road or they would be parking up there too. Some day I will take the hike over to the top and see what cool sites there are. I saw a road as we went up Imogene that goes up the valley from the power plant. It would be fun to take it and see how far it goes up that valley.
 With the altitudes of the mountains around Ouray, spring flowers don't bloom till late July and they were out in full force. I would have loved to had the time to go out among them and take more fotos, but this was a limited time trip so that wasn't part of the plan. I took a few shots from the road and this one was the best. It's such a great sight to see mountain sides and valley's covered in spring time blooms. Sea's of purple, blue, red and yellow flowers, like a carpet covering a square foot to an acre or more for any ones pleasure to gaze upon. The wildlife you can see is also incredible. We saw lots of deer and chipmunks, but my favorite were the Rock chucks. They wander about and sun themselves on rocks like they are tourists too. Years ago on our first trip to Ouray,we were walking among some old mining buildings with some older ladies from Indiana. I was filming everything when all of the sudden there was a horrible scream. We raced out of the building and a rock chuck was observing one of them. It freaked her out! We laughed so hard, we almost peed are pants! Back then, Ouray was a quiet, peaceful town. Now its as crowded as Telluride and almost foreign feeling. The first few years we visited, we hardly saw anything but Jeeps on the trails and a few motorcycles. This weekends trip was like a freeway in Los Angeles. We dodged every type of ATV out there along with motorcycles and even mountain bikers who believed they owned the trail. The well kept secret of Ouray is out. So sad! The trip did end on a funny note. An older couple in their 70's were gawking at my Jeep as we came out out of a store. I told them I charged a fee for looking..... they laughed and the lady asked " did you drive that here like that''? (meaning no doors or top) I said I sure did. The old man asks " what do you do if it rains?" I looked at him seriously and said " I get wet"!
Jeep on my friends!

A proud day for a father, or, Samantha kicks ass!

Welcome to day 2 of our adventures.Today was the day to run Black Bear pass from Red mtn to Telluride. We got a very late start today due to the fact we all slept in. So, instead of an 7am departure, we left around 8:30. Not a big deal, but it did keep us from reaching our 14000' goal...... this has to do with my nephew so ya...... Anyway, we blew thru Ouray and headed up to Red mountain pass  where the trail began. We took a brief detour and went up the left hand fork of the trail so I could check something out I had seen 12 years ago. This sign greeted us and of course we ignored it. The trail wasn't as bad as the sign said it was, but I'm sure a beginner wouldn't have enjoyed the challenge as we did. 
My goal for this side trip was to check out a foto I took years ago of a waterfall. I had to see where it came from. By the way, I have a thing for water falls. Anyway, I didn't find the source because the trail ended and quite frankly, I'm in no shape to hike further up the mountain. The incredible thing about these mountains is the water falls. They are everywhere and range in size from tiny garden hose types to huge, wow, this is awesome! This little guy was one I liked so I decided to share it with you. The foto doesn't do it credit, but you can kinda see what I mean. We left the side trip and headed back down the trail to the main road and began our ascent to Black Bear pass. An interesting side note is that up there, at well over 11000 feet, there were herds of sheep. Never saw that before..... go figure.

We arrived at the summit and looked down to Telluride sitting about a mile below us. This is Sam and Bob posing for the camera. Up to now the trail was fairly easy, but the best was about to come... or should I say the worst? I dunno, its a fun trail that makes you keep your attention on the trail and nothing else
 I kept our pace slow, not to delay the crazy ride ahead, but to keep snapping fotos of water falls. I shot this one using the telephoto lens and again, the foto doesn't do it justice. We arrived at the section of the trail called the stairs. I was driving one handed and using the other one to take video with my Iphone.  Not a good idea but what the hell. Maybe when I figure out how to add video to posts I will share them with you. Sam did and awesome job  crawling down the stairs
 There isn't a spot to stop in this section so all I got was her making the 90 degree turn at the end of them. Next up was the 26 or so switch backs. A lot of the switch backs are hard to hike, let alone drive a vehicle thru, but Sam again, took charge and kicked some ass. She ended up on 2 wheels on one of them and I actually had my camcorder  out for it. But I really think I messed up and had it on pause. I wont know for sure till I get home and finalize the disc. For me, that was the only moment of the whole trip I was actually nervous. But, being the great little Jeeper she is, she took it all in stride and made it down the mountain. YOU ROCK BABY GIRL!
The most famous water fall over here is Bridal Veil falls. I don't remember how high it is, but its spectacular to see. I shot this one from high above it just to give you an idea how big it is. The building there by it was/is a hydro electric power plant. Don't quote me, but I have read somewhere that it was the 1st generating plant of this type west of the Mississippi river. I also have heard that its still in use today. The road to drive to the plant it self is gated so you  have to walk to see it up close, but due to time issues we passed it by and went into town. We ate lunch at an expensive pizza place, and to be quite honest.... it sucked! After lunch, we headed up Oak street to the trail head of Imogene pass. This trail would take us back to Ouray, so I could finish the trip right. With the friends I have Jeeped with, once we finish Black Bear pass , we have the right to buy the coveted "I survived Black Bear pass" t-shirt. Today was my day to buy Samantha her 1st one. WOW, such a great moment. The girl took on a wild ride and showed it who's boss. Handing her the shirt was a very proud moment in my life. By now it was late and the sun was headed down , so we began the trip back to Grand Junction and called it a day. So, our adventures in Ouray are over, but we take home the satisfaction and memories of one hell of a trip. Jeep on my friends!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ambushed at Poughkeepsie Gulch

Good evening and welcome to day 2. Due to the incredible slowness of of the wifi here, I am going to tell the story as it happened, not how the fotos are positioned on the blog. To get to Poughkeepsie Gulch, you begin about 5 miles up the million dollar highway on the Engineer pass road. From my fading memory, this road was a mild easy trail you could coast up. Not anymore. Everyone I talked to agreed the trails are getting more difficult. Unlike Utah, where mini-vans are the new Jeep. We stopped at an old mine a few miles and took the bottom foto. It's so strange to see buildings and such from so long ago still surviving after so much time has passed.
 We continued the climb up the mountain to the turn off for the gulch. There are signs everywhere saying the trail is for modified 4x4's and lockers and winches are recommended. As usual, I didn't pay attention to it and plowed into the first mud pit I could find. Bob happened to tell me that there was mud coming in his side of the Jeep......I like to play like that. We climbed all the way up to the final obstacle and arrived at the hills. There are 3 ways up and the governing body of this area has kindly installed winch points to be used to help yourself if you don't make it. Well with all the rain and mud, the rock was slippery and I knew there was no way in hell I was going up those hills. I do take pride in that I was up there in a mostly stock Jeep. Everyone else, at the minimum, had Rubicon Jeeps and highly modified expensive built Jeeps. So ya, I was happy to be that far up yet sad because I couldn't do it. So, after taking a few minutes of video, we headed down the trail the way we had come and headed back up the mountain. The trail got better the closer to the top we got. We rounded a corner and what did we see????? 
 We saw a Subaru station wagon that had come up from the Animas Forks area. The trail out of Silverton to Animas Forks is a very easy trail. He was headed down and asked us if he was on the road to Ouray. I said yes and informed him there was no way in hell he was going to make it down in the Subaru. We continued up and Bob watched him go about 10 yards down the trail then get out and see for himself he wasn't gonna make it. Sure enough, as we sat and checked out an old mine area, here he comes flying up the road heading back to Silverton. We stopped in Animas Forks, took fotos and headed up California Gulch. Easy trail and it got us to 13000 feet. What a view. As we went down the trail, we took a road that led us to Corkscrew Gulch. From there, Red Mountain stood out like a sore thumb. All around you is a treeless, gray and green mountain range and then like that, you run into Red mountain, which!
 We headed into the Red Mountain area and stopped to visit a few old mining structures. The head frame in the foto is Yankee Girl mine. I went inside and got some great shots of the building and all the surrounding areas. Yankee Girl is one of the most foto-graphed buildings around. But, most people do it from across the valley on the main road. They even built a nice new pull out for that sole purpose. Ya know, I would much rather see it up close and personal then shoot a foto from half a mile away. There is so much history in Ouray, you could spend weeks taking every trail to every site and not get bored.
Last but not least, I took a foto of Mr happy-face I'm certain most of you out there think it's stupid, but I don't.I kinda like him. Besides, he is yellow and matches the Jeep! Now I get to voice my opinion on stuff I saw today. Yes  its been 12 years since I was there, but the amount of ATV's was incredible. They were everywhere. I kinda miss the old days when all you saw on the trails were Jeeps and such. Another thing I noticed was Ouray has turned into Telluride. I have never seen that many people in the town except on the 4th of July party they have. I really don't like it. We didn't stop or anything, but there was hardly any parking on the road and wall to wall people walking the sidewalks. It used to be a quiet town and I liked it for that. OK, it's time to call it a night.... we have Black Bear pass to run tomorrow. Until tomorrow......Jeep on my friends.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good evening and welcome to part 1 of the crazy things I do. This weekend was a spur of the moment, lets go to Ouray and Jeep the dark side idea so here I am. Before I go further, I must admit the foto above has no direct bearing on this trip. I had no opportunity to take any fotos on the way here due to really shitty weather. We left and it was sunny and hot. Got into Spanish Fork canyon and the tell tale clouds of doom decided to rain on our parade. By the time we got to Soldiers Summit, it was 62 and raining. Not fun. We made it into Price and and things mellowed out..... sort of. Between Price and Green River is nothing more than sand and a few odd varieties of plant life. The storm went from rain to wind and it was awful. It almost blew the glasses off my face. Finally after 20 or so miles beyond Green River it stopped and we ran in to another Utah favorite...... road construction. I-70 pretty much from that point on into Colorado was single lane. Colorado even has the disease, because it continued almost to Grand Junction. Crazy I tell ya. So I sit here in a Super 8 motel and write about day one of this adventure. Had to stop and buy super size garbage bags to cover the seats in the Jeep tonight so they stay dry. I don't mind getting wet during a trip, but starting out with a wet ass just sucks! So, tomorrow night will have new fotos of the adventure and who knows what else. Its bed time........ Jeep on my friends!

Monday, July 16, 2012

3 Jeeps and a quest for mud

 Welcome to another adventure of the fun kind. These past few days have brought some much needed rain to the state of Utah. Of course, we all know that with rain you get lots of mud. So, being the type of person to take advantage of the situation, we decided a Jeep trip was most definitely needed. Sam, Bob, and her mom joined up with me, myself and I and headed to the hills. The trip started up Blacksmith canyon and then onto the left hand fork trail. I must admit, things were not looking promising as we began the the trip up the trail. After all the rain, we couldn't find anything other than a few meaningless, tiny puddles that brought no joy to the drivers. Things were not looking good at all. 
 We took the trail to the crossroads and followed it to the east and Old Ephriam's grave. Still, the lack of mud was appalling. We pulled out of that site, heading north to the Temple peak trail, and kept up the search for the elusive mud hold. As we headed east, the trees in this area do not allow a lot of sun to reach the ground and this in turn, helped in our our quest immensely. Winding our way through the trees, we began to find more and more puddles that were actually decent sized and fun to play in. They seemed to get better and better as we climbed in altitude in search of our holy grail. Coming up to the summit of the trail, we struck it rich and found a great place to
 play and proceeded to have a great time. We spent a good half hour in the mud hole trying to see who could cover their vehicle the best. Sam was the winner of this game, turning her white Unlimited into a brown muddy mess. I honestly think she would be a great race car driver. She hit the hole the fastest and covered her Jeep the best. I took it slow trying to see if I could actually get stuck in it. Not a chance. The little old Jeep pulled itself through in 2 wheel drive with out missing a beat. We took some video of the Jeeps going through the mud hole, but for some dumb ass reason, they ended up being sideways and I know not why.
After our fun in the mud, the trip kept getting better. We headed north to the Peter's sink trail and again found a plethora of mud. For those of you who don't know what Peters sink is, well,....... its claim to fame is that it is the coldest spot in the lower 48 states. They have recorded temperatures in this area in the winter at -69 degrees. That's pretty freaking cold. Funny thing about the trip is that on that trail, the temp dropped almost 15 degrees. As I watched the Jeeps thermometer during the day, it stayed in the high 70's and low 80's. During our time in the sink area the gauge read in the low 60's. Weird huh? We were gonna drop down to Bear lake, but from our view on top of the mountain it appeared that they were getting one hell of a rain storm so, we headed to Logan for dinner and then home. All in all, it was a great trip. Found some more trails I wanna follow and who knows what I will find when I do. Until next time, Jeep on my friends!