Corkscrew, Hurricane, California Passes + Mineral Creek

Earlier this summer, my friend Molly asked if I would pilot her Jeep up Yankee Boy basin while her mom was visiting. Molly drives a JK with a pretty good size lift but wasn’t really comfortable driving it off-road herself. A girl needs to know how to drive her own Jeep so we decided to take a little adventure so she could get that experience.

Cruising around the San Juans is always such a delight:

Homecoming Runs

School is almost out and I’m busily wrapping up my life in De Beque. I had a lovely year there but I miss home in Ridgway. I’ve been going down quite frequently this spring, working on some projects and I’ve also taken on a side job in a restaurant. In between everything, I’ve squeezed in a few runs that just make me smile SO MUCH.

A couple of weeks ago, we got to the property just as town was going into shadow but the Cimarrons were starting to get that gorgeous low angle light.

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Sprocket even mostly forgave me for running past the river since I promised him he could climb Mt. Sneffles this summer (pictured just over his shoulder).

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I mean, really:

 

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And then the moon rose over the Cimarrons. The photo does not do any sort of justice to how gorgeous the full moon was coming over some of my favorite peaks.

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Just as it started to get dark, we finished our run at Colorado Boy where no one seemed to think it was the least bit odd that I’d get to town on a Thursday, run, have a beer, and then go back to my little shed home.

I cannot wait for this summer. I’ve missed you so much, Ridgway.

 

Brown Mountain Jeep Road

I’ve been just dying to get up into the high country. Just after I left for my trip with Amanda, I found out that the Brown Mountain road was open. I remembered Brown Mountain having a pretty good rock base to the road so once I was back in Ridgway, I decided it would be a great first outing in the San Juans for the spring and a great first San Juan outting for Francis.

Brown Mountain Jeep Road

Just as I’d hoped, the road wasn’t really muddy at all until just below the small lake near the top of the road. With such a short distance to walk, it wasn’t worth tearing up the road so I parked the jeep and started walking.

Brown Mountain

The hike up Brown Mountain from the end of the road is steep but it’s short and always worth it. As it was, there were still some pretty big snow cornices at the top of the ridge and the snow definitely did some settling as I walked on it so we called it quits up there pretty quickly (having already gotten our 1,000′ of elevation gain already!) and headed back down to the jeep.

Jeep FSJ

I kind of always get a kick out of driving the FSJ. As we were coming down the mountain, Rage Against The Machine’s “Renegades” came on shuffle and I just couldn’t help but smile. What a life?, right?!

Beth Driving FSJ

Even Sprocket had to agree although he wasn’t happy with his seat choice in the passenger footwell (he chose it, I swear!):

Sprocket in FSJ

Spring Break to Mexico, Part 4: Picacho del Diablo

After consuming way too much pollo in San Telmo (we accidentally got two plates of chicken instead of one… probably should learn Spanish to prevent incidents like that…), we turned east towards Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Martir. I was really excited about making this drive all the way from the ocean to our trailhead at about 8,000′.

San Telmo turnoff to Parque San Pedro de Martir

At the lowest elevations, the vegetation was decidedly desert like. I oggled some new cactus species along the way although I didn’t grab a lot of photos for some new cactus of the week photos. (I’ll try harder next trip!) As we climbed, my excitement for the hike kept building!

Road to MX National Park

Road to National Park

Eventually we reached pine trees! Big, beautiful pine trees surrounded by gorgeous exposed rocks! It was an astounding change to be in this environment and is definitely not anything I’d have expected to see in Mexico before researching this trip.

Road to National Park

The signage for the park made me so happy. It was totally reminiscent of US national park signs but it was still … different.

Entering National Park

National Park Entrance

National Park map

Watch for deer

After passing through this meadow that totally reminded me of Yellowstone, we turned south on a dirt road to our trailhead.

Parque Sierra de San Pedro Martir

Although a day ahead of schedule, we loaded up our packs to head for our first camp. After a few miles we realized that something wasn’t quite right. I powered up my phone to check the GPS and we realized we’d walked down an old road instead of following the trail. We decided to return to the car (especially since my hiking partner realize that the drivers side door might not have gotten locked!), spend the night, and begin all over according to plan.

The morning was cool and made for great hiking weather. We set out towards Blue Bottle Pass. We didn’t make great time but we really enjoyed taking in everything:

hiking

hiking

hiking

As we reached the Pass, we finally got a look at Picacho del Diablo. Holy cow: that mountain is intimidating looking!

Picacho Del Diablo

Crossing over onto the northeast face of Cerro Botella Azul, we also found some snow!

Snow in Mexico!

Then it was time for the descent into the canyon towards Campo Noche. Unfortunately, following the trail here was really difficult. Most trip reports emphasized the need to traverse as far as possible towards the saddle between Picaho and Cerro Botella Azul and … we didn’t. Quite a ways down the canyon, we realized we’d been cliffed out since we were in the wrong chute. We tried to traverse to the east but were faced with more cliffs that we didn’t feel comfortable negotiating with full packs. Sadly, we realized that going down the wrong way was pretty much the end of our adventure. We’d have to climb back to the saddle, then down the tough terrain, then up the mountain, then up to the saddle again. I took next to no photos of that descent or of our reascent–it was a real butt kicker! (I’ll be back. Who’s with me?) This is the one photo I have of the canyon:

Scrambling near Picacho Del Diablo

Camp at the pass was beautiful though. The wind was blowing pretty hard but we had a nice windbreak. Since we were shortening our hike we at all the food, drank some hot chocolate, and enjoyed the light on the rocks around us.

Sunset

Sunset

Camp

The next morning, we made quick work of our hike back out to the car and decided to run up and check out the observatory before heading to San Felipe.

Pine forest

View of Picacho from the observatory:

Picahco from the observatory

Ridgway Life

Lately, life has been a little rough at times. I’ve been adjusting to life on my own and taking on a new career all while tackling my #damselNOTindistress projects.

However, looking back at the last week, I can’t help but smile. I attended an awesome Halloween party at The Sherbino:

Minion

Halloween 2014

 

Monday, I went out for burgers and beer with friends. Then Wednesday, we gathered again to eat cheese, drink wine, and play Cards Against Humanity.

Cards Against Humanity

Yesterday morning, our whole school gathered to send off our volleyball team to state. It didn’t hurt that the volunteer fire department escorted the bus out to the highway with lights and sirens.

Volleyball Sendoff

Then last night, I was driving home from yet another Home Depot trip and was absolutely astounded by the quiet beauty of the mountains in the moonlight.

Sometimes it’s just the little things, you know?

 

What little things are making you happy this week?

Little Trip to Durango, 3Up Style

Sometimes, although not often, we have to use our gas money not for driving to a trailhead or for Jeeping at 13,000 feet but to go to a city and take care of those “big city” shopping needs. For what was on our list yesterday, Durango (population 17,000) fit the bill.

We’ve teased Sprocket about stopping at Andrews Lake several times but we had some extra time and we know how much our puppy loves swimming. Turns out it is a beautiful spot. Just far enough off the highway to be quiet but close enough (less than a mile) that it’s an easy stop along US 550 (“The Million Dollar Highway”).

Mountains from Andrews Lake

Engineer Mountain

Andrews Lake

Andrews Lake

While Sprocket was swimming, an older gentleman and his dog came down from the Crater Lake trail. Sprocket and the pup had a blast running and swimming together. Finally, though, it was time to hit the road and keep heading south. Sprocket promptly gave us the sad, “But why am I not swimming anymore?” eyes.

Sprocket in the Jeep

After running errands in Durango (and an early birthday lunch at the Indian buffet), we headed north. It was a bit late in the day to plan for a hike since thunderstorms could threaten anytime so we chose to take the Old Lime Creek Road as an alternative to US 550.

As soon as we turned on to the road, we saw this sign and had a good laugh:

Forest Service Sign

The road wound up past Scout Lake where we all looked for moose and Sprocket contemplated how great it would be to splash around in the shallow water:

Sprocket with swamp

San Juan Mountains

After Scout Lake, the road climbs a bit more and the views open up to Lime Creek’s valley. The road is on a shelf high above the creek giving some amazing views of the surrounding mountains.

Valley

When the road came down to meet the creek, we noticed an abundance of beaver chewed trees. As we poked around, it became apparent this was one busy beaver! Poking along down the creek we found his two dams and the beaver lodge. Sprocket was really thankful for that pond!

Beaver tree

Beaver Tree

Sprocket

F and Sprocket, beaver tree

Old Lime Creek Road reentered US 550 just north of Coal Bank Pass…and just in time for us to stop off at Molas Lake for Sprocket to do some more swimming. Standing next to the lake looking around at the mountains everywhere was perfect.

Molas Lake

Views from Molas Lake

On our way to Silverton, we tried out a new dirt road. For awhile, we thought it might actually reenter the highway. Instead, we hit a cliff looking down onto the pavement… We got a cool view of Silverton though!

Silverton

It’s nice we have such pretty Alpine Tour Co. Jeeps to adventure in, no?

Alpine Tour Co.

Once we hit the road out of Silverton, Sprocket’s content sleeping said it all: there’s no such thing as a bad day in the mountains.

Sleeping in the Jeep

Sunlight on Red Mountain

I forgot my camera so all photos from my iPhone.

Sunday Sermon

“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.”

younghusband

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Sir Francis Younghusband

Alpine Mine Hike

Wednesday Sprocket and I set off looking for some adventure. We started off hiking up the Weehawken Trail just outside of Ouray. The trail switchbacks pretty much straight up a hill and just doesn’t stop. Our goal was to get to the Alpine Mine remains.

Weehawken Trail

It was such an absolutely beautiful day. We weren’t in much of a hurry and it was pretty great to be up in the mountains with this guy:

Sprocket

Weehawken Trail

Mountain views

San Juan Mountains

The mine itself was a bit of a letdown but we decided to not stop there and work our way up to the ridge above the mine. I’ll admit to thinking “Just one more highpoint” more than once as we worked our way along. I had to finally give up when I reached a slope that I wasn’t comfortable leading Sprocket down alone.

Alpine Mine

San Juan Mountains

Ouray, Colorado

Beth

Here’s the view from the furthest point we made up the ridge line, not too shabby:

Ridges

San Juan Mountains

Sprocket