Floating the Lower Gunnison

So I was a little nervous about making friends in Ridgway. It’s been a long time since I lived somewhere long enough to really make good friends. I made a few phone calls to acquaintances and I’ve found that some of them are well an their way to becoming good friends. Over beers at Colorado Boy, I found that I was happily welcomed into a slew of Labor Day weekend fun.

The four day weekend started Thursday when I left work and headed up to Paonia and met with the crew at Revolution Brewing (I was impressed with their brews). Afterwards we headed to Paonia’s Pickin’ in the Park.

The next day, most of us set out on the Gunnison River for a nice relaxing float. Sprocket spent the whole time being the puppy in charge and had a much less relaxing time…

Gunnison River SUP

Gunnison River

Gunnison River

Gunnison River

Sprocket

Sprocket

Gunnison River

Gunnison River

Avery Trip

A couple Sundays ago, it was predicted to be in the mid-90s in the Silver Valley so we decided that we needed to go find somewhere to be on the water. We set off in the jeep for Avery. Instead of going the usual way via Wallace and Moon Pass, we headed south directly out of Mullan.

Stevens Peak

After attaining the ridge on the south side of town, we dropped down to Moon Pass briefly and then took Slate Creek Road to Avery. The road was mostly in good shape but there were a couple of washouts to keep the drive interesting.

Slate Creek Meadows

Once we got to Avery, we had lunch at Avery Fly Fishing Company right on the St. Joe River. After we’d finished our lunch (and our ice cream cone), we headed up the North Fork of the St. Joe to try and find a place for Sprocket to swim. Along the way, we found a nice deep hole where he could get some swimming in. I even got in the icy cold water for a bit. (Forrest described it as “snow three hours ago” and watched from his rock.)

We made our way back to Mullan via Bullion Pass and Taft, Montana. It had been a long day but it was really nice to spend it together.

Moon Pass Adventure

Sunday afternoon, we decided to go exploring. I did some quick checking on road conditions and found that Moon Pass (leading from Wallace over to Avery) was open. Optimistic that the snowmelt would let us do some exploring we headed out in the jeep.

Waiting to go for a ride

Moon Pass Road was really dusty so we decided to try and take the scenic bypass route up higher into the mountains. Unfortunately, there was still enough snow on the road to make the going tricky in places and, eventually, too deep to go further at all. It made for a kind of long detour but it was certainly pretty up in the trees.

Returning to the main road, we headed up to the pass. Someone had plowed the road leaving some decent sized snow berms along the road. I’m not sure if it was the elevation or the snow but the air temperature definitely dropped! At the top of the pass, we stopped to talk to a couple of people on quads. We asked them about melt status of some of the roads in the area and reflect on how good it felt to be out after the long winter.

We headed down into the St. Joe drainage and looking for somewhere to explore. We found a small road and decided to head up it to explore. It quickly turned into a narrow quad trail but not before Forrest decided to navigate across a stream. Although it had gotten a bit narrow for the jeep, we decided to take a walk anyway. Just a little ways up the road we heard a crashing in the brush. It was a moose!

We watched her until she ran up the creek and out of view. As we continued up the road we saw some of her tracks in the mud and then heading up the hill. It was amazing to see how big her leap up the hill was—in one step, she went four feet up the hillside! Just another quarter mile down the road, it crossed the creek again. Not being exactly willing to wade into the freshly melted snow, we turned around. (Sprocket, on the other hand headed right out into the stream.)

A bit further down the road we saw a hiking trail head up into the mountains so we parked the jeep and headed up the hill. And when I say up, I mean up. It’s steep around here and this was no exception, we gained just under a thousand feet of elevation in about a mile.

As we got up to the powerline road, it was getting to be time to think about getting back home. (We’re hoping to find someone to give us a ride back to that trailhead soon so we can continue down the trail to Wonderful Peak and hike down over the ridge back into town.)

Back down at the jeep, we decided to try to get home via Bullion Pass but were foiled by snow just below the summit (and, as the crow flies about six miles from home) only to have to turn around and go the long way home through Wallace via Moon Pass.