Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
Ouray Colorado trip

by Christy Howe

9/11 - Friday
As the rest of the group was not arriving until later in the day, Gordy and I had the first day to ourselves, so we took it as our 'hike and soak' day. We went for a beautiful hike on Brown Mountain in Ironton Park south of Ouray, then for a soak in the hot springs pool before dinner. Bill Boitano, Polly Rader, and Larry and Paulette McGimsey arrived in time to join us for a nice dinner and, without "mom" to tell us where and when we were meeting the next morning, we actually had to do some planning! (We missed you, Kathy and Judy.)

9/12 - Saturday
We took off from Ouray over the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton, then up from Howardsville towards Stony Pass. There were lots of mining remnants, including an aerial tramway for carrying ore up and down the mountain. The views were great and although the aspens were not yet in full splendor, the fall colors on the tundra were spectacular. Then we went back down the other side of Stony Pass and across Pole Creek, up to beautiful and secluded Kite Lake, our lunch spot.

At Kite Lake, the excitement began. Just as we got our lunches and lawn chairs out, a squall moved in and we were forced into our vehicles for the duration. Then we started back down for the return trip out, and it turned out that the most danger we were in of incurring body damage was from the incredible hailstorm that came through. This went on until it looked like it had snowed in places. The side trip up to the Buffalo Boy Tram House was made in driving hail and sleet, including the entire time that the brave ones (Larry and Gordy) got out and wandered around the tram house while the wimps took pictures of them from inside their vehicles. No other fools were either at Kite Lake or the tram house. Then we rolled back through Silverton and Ouray, dropping huge clods of mud the whole way, and enjoyed an early dinner, followed by a soak in the hot springs pool.

9/13 - Sunday
As we started up the Black Bear Pass road, the weather was already looking ominous. It was obvious that it had stormed the night before, and clouds were hovering and threatening to let loose at any minute. We were wondering about getting any of the views that this area is so famous for as we continued to climb higher through clouds and fog. We stopped at a viewpoint and Bill and Gordy were able to find the mound of rocks where Bud Kilgour's ashes are located. Bud was a member of TRR whose endowment has helped us through many a project. At the top of Black Bear Pass, we sloshed through an inch or so of snow and managed a group photo with a solid wall of grey clouds behind us. But lo and behold, the clouds burned off and the views opened up like crazy on the way down the other side. It was one photo op after another as we made our way down towards Telluride through sections that Charles Wells spends an entire paragraph warning us about, then goes on to say "if you don't understand this paragraph, stay off this trail" (in bold). He meant what he said, as the trail is one-way (so no going back), steep, narrow, rocky, and has huge drop-offs, but the views are breathtaking. It was at this point that we became grateful that the weather had decided to cooperate. At Bridal Veil Falls we descended down the famous switchbacks into Telluride for lunch among the living.

After lunch, more excitement as we headed up Tomboy Road to Imogene Pass, the second highest drive-able pass in Colorado. More breathtaking views, huge drop-offs, and lots of mining stuff entertained us the whole way as we made our way up through Savage Basin and the remnants of the Tomboy Mine. This was once one of the most active mines in Colorado and was basically a self-contained town with its own store, school, church, etc. 3,000 feet above Telluride. We practically had to drag Gordy away from all the mining 'stuff'. Continuing on, we reached Imogene Pass at 13,114 feet with 360 degree views and another windy group photo op. The trip back down towards Ouray went past Imogene Basin, the Upper Camp Bird mine, two more overlooks (pets and small children should stay in cars, says the book), the Camp Bird mine, the "overhang" and down Camp Bird Road back into Ouray, followed by dinner, packing up, and that's all she wrote!

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