Friday, August 26, 2016

California Pass/Animas Forks, CO (8/15/2016)

From California Pass, there are some good views of the roads we have traveled, as well as the road ahead.  Lake Como looks much smaller from up here.


At the road's highest point, 12,960 feet according to the sign, Pam hikes up the foot path to the very top of California Mountain.  There are only six higher passes in Colorado.  By walking to the summit, Pam has "climbed" over 13,000 feet.  Only 636 mountains to go to have reached the summit of all Colorado "thirteeners" (mountains exceeding 13,000 feet).
There are more great views of the road as it winds through the mountains and down into the valley below.

Along the way, we pass some equipment used in the mines and a few structures long abandoned.  The road passes through a pile of tailings.

Soon we arrive at the "ghost town" called Animas Forks, where the tree forks of the Animas River come together.  Situated at 11,200 feet above sea level, the town dates to 1873 when the first miner's cabin was built.  Eventually there were thirty homes, plus other buildings of commerce, to support the population of 450 residents.  While many structures have totally collapsed, several of the remaining buildings have been stabilized for safety, allowing visitors to enter them.

Many of the residents retreated into nearby Silverton to spend their winters.  At "only" 9300 feet elevation, Silverton was much warmer.  In one 23 day blizzard, some 25 feet of snow was deposited in Animas Forks, forcing those few people there to tunnel between buildings.

The road then follows the river into Silverton.  Note the white color deposited on the rocks by some mineral in the water.  In the twelve miles to Silverton, there are numerous small waterfalls and streams joining the river, as well as a few more abandoned mines.  A small amount of snow can still be found.

A yellow-bellied marmot rests on a rock, hoping to get a little sunshine.
At last we can see the outskirts of Silverton in the valley, which means our tour is coming to an end.  In Silverton, we did a little shopping before heading back to Montrose, about 60 miles away.

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