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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Oak Creek Trail Hike 10/2/2015

The Oak Creek Trail begins within the town of Ouray.  I'd never been up the trail, but had seen multiple times where it joins the Silvershield/Twin Peaks trail.  I'd heard that this trail was a real strain due to its steepness.  But, often those ideas come from those who don't hike much.  Steep is in the eyes of the beholder.  So, I decided to see for myself.


The beginning of the trail follows a road that goes to several homes in the area.  This was a beautiful fall morning.


The trail does a few switchbacks and then skirts along a cliff for a ways.  Now the views are starting to appear.


The trail gains altitude fairly quickly and soon beautiful views to the south open up.  Ouray is in the valley below and Mt. Abrams is up the valley in the center.  None of this section is particularly steep in my opinion.



The trail winds around the mountain and soon this sign is encountered.  Still it doesn't look that steep to me....but, we'll see.  The trail goes nearly straight up the mountain just above the sign.



Just ahead though....forget about switchbacks...it's straight up the mountain.  This is one of the very few sections where the Ouray Trail Group has graciously made some steps.  Without them, some of these sections would be very difficult.  The rock is very loose and you just can't get good footing.  Yep, the sign was right....this sucker is steep.



Just to the side of the steep cut where the trail goes....vertical.


One of the few spots level enough to stop and get a photo.  Wow, what breath the climb doesn't take away, the views do!


Highway 550 below.  The trail comes straight up the mountain just beneath the rocks in the foreground.  Even the switchbacks are very steep....I bit the dust several times.  Fortunately, there are lots of trees, so you wouldn't go far if you started sliding.



After the steep stuff, it's sure good there are rewarding views.  This is looking up toward Yankee Boy Basin.  Time to park it for a bit and let the legs get rid of that "rubbery" feeling.  They haven't felt that way for years.  


Up, Up and away!



Soon I was back on top of things and had joined up with the Silvershield/Twin Peaks trail.  It was decision time.  That trail was so dry and loose that going down would be far worse than coming up.  I had planned to hike on up to Twin Peaks.  However, if I continued on and made a loop around the Silvershield trail, I wouldn't have time for the run up Twin Peaks.  I opted to make the loop.  This is the view back toward Bridge of Heaven to the east.


I believe in the timber industry they call these "widow-makers".  The wind was howling and trees were popping all over the place.  It was kind of unnerving looking up at these guys waving in the wind.  The pine beetles have really made havoc of our forests due to the drought.  There are "widow-makers" all over up here.


Nice spot where I was able to hunker down in the trees out of the wind for awhile.


View across the valley to Gold Hill with a mine shaft and building hugging the cliff.  Those miners were some tough dudes.  Hope they weren't sleep-walkers.  I met another older gentleman on the Silvershield Trail and mentioned that I had come up the Oak Creek way and was making a loop.  He called the Oak Creek Trail a "puffer".  That's an apt description to say the least.  Thank you Lord that I made it safely up the "puffer" and had another fantastic day in your creation!