We finally took a break from the house stuff and local activities and headed out for some exploring. We drove over to the Elk Mountains and made a nice round trip thru the scenic byways and small towns This area is popular for hunting and fishing and outfitters are eager to take you out.
We had no trouble finding deer. In this shot, we had to wait while 4 bucks ambled across the road. I wonder if it's unusual to have bucks hanging out together……..we saw other deer as well but none of the feminine gender. Maybe they were home tending the children. This buck had only one antler.
We also drove over to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. The south rim is closer to us but we had heard that the other side was more dramatic. We found this short trail with a small pamphlet guide in a box at the beginning with markers along the way.
Few wildflowers along here except for the cactus flowers.
The trail was relatively flat and led us to the rim where the views were breathtaking. I'm never sure if I should trust the engineers who decided to make observation outcroppings that seem to balance in mid-air. I don't like heights as well.
It's hard to capture the dimensionality of the views but this is the Painted Wall, a massive structure rising from the gorge floor where you can see the ribbon of the Gunnison River.
The Gunnison was running wild and full. You could hear it as you started on the trail and I'm sure it was deafening if you were down on a raft. They do have rafting tours of the gorge but this year, the runoff is very high and dangerous so it will be awhile before the tourists can sign up .
As we continued our drive, the wildflowers became more abundant. Still no columbines…probably mid July or so.
There are 3 dams/reservoirs in this area. That is the actual color of the lake and the surrounding mountains. In the distance are the San Juans.
The next day, we joined the Cobble Creek Hiking Club. The hike of the day was to Spirit Gulch. It is south of Ouray and the trail head starts at 10,000 ft. It is listed as Easy/Moderate with a distance of 4-6 miles roundtrip. There were about 11 of us , plus 3 dogs. We've found that there are various hiking levels in the group and altho we started out together, the more ambitious and eager souls, quickly moved out ahead. The rest of us enjoyed the views.
The trail starts out level for a brief distance and then starts to climb up an old mine road. ( it is currently closed to vehicles.)
We expected stream crossings but not of the depth and strength of the current. Altho the pictures don't do these justice, the water was very cold, quite deep, full of oddly shaped rocks and very forceful. No one fell in but we all had very wet feet. There were 4 wide streams to cross. At first we gingerly picked our way but by the time we hit the 3rd one, we just waded in. And then we had to ford the streams on the way back.
We had lovely views of Red Mountain the entire trek.
There is an old mine up there and a few dwellings scattered about.
Spirit Gulch. Some of the group continued up on the trail to the upper right. But the rest were happy to enjoy a respite from the climb and enjoyed the view. At over 11,000 ft the air gets pretty thin unless you are just lounging in your cabin.
Above tree line, the flowers are smaller. No columbine on this trip either….still too early.
Heading back, there was a small alpine lake. Red Mountain again above us. We climbed to about 11,500 in all.
Coming down was slow as the road had loose rocks and was slippery.
It was a great day and about 4 miles. We ended it with a well-earned lunch at Kate's in Ridgeway. We'll take you there for a good meal when you come out.! We'll also take you to Spirit Gulch if you want……..