Friday, July 31, 2015

High Mesa to the Top Of The World! 7.25.15

On this day I had the rare treat to have my wife Joann join me on a hike.  I promised that this one was fairly flat and the views would be worth any effort expended.  She doesn't always believe me when I say that though.  Maybe it's our varied definitions of "fairly flat".  But, this one is really fairly flat.  It begins at the very end of the High Mesa Road.  The trail follows an old logging road for about 3 miles where it crosses a motorcycle trail up over High Mesa.  It's easiest to then follow the MC trail out to the edge of the mountain and turn left (south) and then hike on up to the high point - that's the Top of the World.  That last hitch is fairly straight up, but it's not far.  The views are stunning, as you'll soon see.

Panorama from Top of the World.  Views of Silverjack Reservoir, Cimarron West Fork, Middle Fork ,and East Fork.  Heaven just has to be only a stone's throw away!

View up the Cimarron East Fork.  That's Uncompahgre Peak at the end of the valley - I've been to the foot of it on a couple sides.  I need to get up there!  It's the highest point in the San Juan Mountains.

Trees don't last long up here, there's just too much wind.  But, on this day it was unusually pleasant, only a breeze.

Some old mountain goat.

The west side of Sheep Mountain is gnarly!  I'd love to see how that was created.

Shrooms - I doubt they are edible.  Joann thought they were "cute".

Trees, trees, and more trees - some extremely tall for this country!  What fun to watch them sway in the breeze.

I wonder what a moose was doing up this high?  She probably was avoiding the "city" below in the Silverjack area and the Little Cimarron.  From above, it literally looked like a city of campers, motorhomes, etc.  I'm glad I was up here too - above that mess.

View of Sheep Mountain just after leaving the trail head.  This is why I hike.  These views are tucked away all over these San Juan mountains.

Looking down on Silverjack Reservoir and the city of campers.

View up the Cimarron East fork.  The middle fork is in the far right of the picture.  The brown area in the lower left is the East Fork fire site from a couple years ago.

Gopro camera setup taking a timelapse.  

Lady on a Rock (Joann) - upper right.  The Sneffels Range is in the far background, above and beyond Owl Creek Pass.

Cottontail rabbits were all over the road on the way out.  I don't know what attracted them to the road, but we'd come around a corner and see 8 or 10 of them out on the road.  What a wonderful day in God's great outdoors with the love of my life!

Richmond Pass 7.11.15

The grandkids spent the night so the hiking crew could get up early and try to beat the thunderstorms.  I shook them out of bed about 5am and we were hiking at about 6:30.  We're missing one of the "brothers" as he had a birthday party to attend to.  So, it was just me, Garrett and Ryan headed up the Richmond Pass trail.  This trail takes off very close to the highway over Red Mountain Pass.  If you don't know where it is, then you'll likely miss it as the trail sign is back in the trees.  After heading south through Ironton Park, be ready for a 45 mph speed limit sign - the road turnoff is just before it.  There's a very small parking area up in the trees about 75 yards.  This trail is elk heaven.  I have another post of this trail earlier on the blog.  Both times I've encountered elk in abundance.  I wanted the grandsons to share in that so away we went!

Posing at the trailhead - Garrett & Ryan

The day started out beautiful.  Lupine in abundance and sunshine.....that was soon to change!

Looking back over the valley to the Red Mountains.

A fantastic morning - great to be alive and able to get into the mountains and let the mountains get into us.

More of the Red Mountains - appropriately named I might add!

Uh Oh - a view to the southwest shows thunderheads building.  Our storms up here generally come from the southwest.  We'd better get moving.  Being above timberline when these things roll in is not pleasant nor smart!

Wow, it just doesn't get any better than this.  Why the Lord would bless me this much is beyond me!

First elk spotting - a cow off by herself.  She gave us the eye and then roamed over to join the rest of the crowd.

We were high above the herd.  They didn't even know we were around.  They were not disturbed at all, which is just how I like it.  There were probably 50-60 elk in this group.

Mr. Bumblebee enjoying an alpine sunflower...oblivious to the impending storm.

Three mule deer bucks were lounging way above timberline.  They too did not seem to care that a storm was coming.

We'd just barely taken the buck photos above when the rumble began.  We could see the storm approaching up the valley in a hurry.  We hustled as fast as we could, often nearing a run to get back to tree line.  Just as we got there it opened up and did some rumbling.  We got a bit wet, but not bad.  It rained most of the way to the car.  But, when we got there and began eating lunch, the sun came out.  However, it was short-lived as the storms just kept rolling in.  We still had a great hike, even though it was short.  Just a few minutes in God's outdoors is better than hours anywhere else!

Baldy Peak 5.29.15

I'm so far behind on this blog that it's downright pitiful!  It's been an attempt to chronicle my hikes and outdoor stuff.  But, who has time for blogging when you're outdoors.  Anyway, this hike has been on here before but on a different date.  I happen to like it alot.  I usually have the whole trail to myself!  However, every trip into the wilderness, whether in new territory or old, is always a treat and always new and always something to be thankful for.  This trail is near Ouray, CO, up the Cutler/Dexter Creek Road.  The road officially ends in Thistle Park, but during low runoff times you can travel on across Cutler Creek and go up the road a bit further.  It's always a good choice for wildlife.  I've never been in the area without seeing wildlife.  So, here we go!

The trailhead

Heavy rain the night before left the trail very soggy.  Shortly my feet were wet, so it didn't bother me where I stepped after that.

Higher up things began to dry a bit due to the slope.

I wish I could have seen this bear - it appears to be a hefty one.  It had walked up the trail for several hundred yards.

View back to the southeast.

Zoom shot of Wetterhorn Peak to the east.

Higher up on the trail looking back to the Sneffels Range

Western Tanager - what a creative artist the Lord God is!  Getting out in nature just makes Him seem nearer as His handiwork is visible everywhere you turn.

Going higher - looking to the southwest.

Couldn't pass up including this old snag in a shot.  It's stood through so many storms.  Who knows how long it can last as it's right on a very windswept slope.  That's perseverance!

New fern shoots were just emerging.

Pasque Flowers were popping up everywhere.  Nature was really beginning to put on a show!

Zoom shot of Mt. Sneffles - about 8-10 miles away.  This has been one of the snowiest Mays on record for the San Juan Mountains.  Before May, we were looking at a shortage of irrigation water.  By the end, there was an abundance and all reservoirs were full.  Thank you Lord!

View down into the Uncompahgre River valley where Ouray is situated at the end of the valley.

I don't think much of the "selfie" craze now days.  This is as close as I'll likely get.  Posing on top of Baldy Peak.

Headed down and showing more of that abundant snow off to the east.

More of the trail.

Though it's the end of May, everything is behind up here.  The aspens are just beginning to get leaves big enough to "quake".

As I got back to my pickup, there was a greeting committee.  Kind of a scragly looking bunch right now - but they'll be looking better soon!

Lastly, a Gopro timelapse from my lunch spot.