Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dallas Creek (9/24/2016)

Picking up where I left off on Saturday, I decided the best weather that day would be over the Dallas Creek Road.  This road leads into the Uncompahgre National forest and ends after nine miles at the trailhead for the Blue Lakes Hiking trail.  Although I'm told it is beautiful, I've never made that hike, which is 3.5 miles and 1600 feet of elevation gain to reach the first lake.  Other lakes are farther and higher, up to 2400 feet higher than the start, and the summit of Mount Sneffles is even higher...over 14,000 feet ASL.  I should have done it when I was much younger.  Anyway, Dallas Creek flows down from Mount Sneffles and through a series of valleys and canyons, finally joining the Uncompahgre River near Ridgway.

This road, also known as County Road 7, is a favorite of mine and other photographers interested in fall color.  Between hikers, photographers and the few residents, the road gets lots of traffic and becomes very rough by this time of year.  Washboard and potholes don't require 4WD, but they make it uncomfortable in any vehicle.  This is mitigated by the beautiful scenery along the way, and the spectacular view of the Sneffles Range near the end.  It's unfortunate that I chose to visit on a day with so much cloud cover, especially over the mountains, so the photos fail to capture the true color and beauty of this place.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Montrose & Ridgway (9/22 & 9/24/2016)

On my last trip to Silverton, it was apparent that fall colors were starting to emerge.  I figured peak color was about a week or so away.  Having appointments Monday through Wednesday, I looked forward to going out on Thursday to check on the fall color.  Unfortunately, the weather didn't go along with the plan.  Thursday morning was completely overcast, but there was some clearing after noon.  Always optimistic, I started toward the San Juans as soon as I finished lunch.  About fifteen miles from home, I could see the clearing just wasn't happening around the mountains.  I knew it would be a waste of time to continue on, so I quickly changed plans and turned into the Billy Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, an area I had never explored.

The sanctuary is a large (about 5400 acres) tract of wilderness area, primarily used for hunting, camping and fishing.  It is surrounded by even larger parcels of public land, so the total area available is vast.  Some cottonwood trees near the entry showed fall color, but most of the other vegetation is small...sagebrush, goldenrod and gambel oak.  In other words, not the kind of color I was looking for.  Still, it made for an interesting afternoon of exploring, with a little photography thrown in.

Friday was a complete loss due to solid cloud cover, and Saturday started the same.  However, some clearing around noon encouraged me to try again, so I headed south once more.  By the time I got to Ridgway, I could see there was no point in continuing south, the clouds were just too thick.  To the west, there were some breaks in the clouds.  Most of the clouds were concentrated over the mountains, as you might expect.  Hoping for the best, I headed west, but took a few photos around Ridgway.

Highway 62 skirts along the northern edge of the San Juan range, offering some spectacular views of the mountains and several spur roads that lead into the national forest.

In my next posting, I'll pick up with one of my favorite roads into the Uncompahgre National Forest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Adobe Hills, Black Canyon & Telluride (9/12 & 9/13/2016)

Visiting Black Canyon for the umpteenth time this summer, I made only two photos on this visit.  The first was another shot of the famous "Painted Wall", with the Gunnison River visible below.  The second is a view of the West Elk mountain range near the town of Crested Butte.

It was such a stormy day, I had been reluctant to drive the back roads to Black Canyon, but we gave it a shot.  Although I made no photos while driving through the "badlands", I did make a video that shows about three minutes out of a 20 minute drive.  It can be viewed at Adobe Hills.  The video camera was still running when we drove down to East Portal at the bottom of Black Canyon.  This road includes about two miles of 16% grade and ends at the Gunnison River.  This is where a tunnel was dug to supply water to the Montrose area, and it's still operating today.  This video can be seen at East Portal Descent.

Later that evening, the storm clouds were very thick, but I went out hoping for a sunset.  While it wasn't what I was hoping for, I did take a few photos.

The weather was much improved the next day, so we headed to Telluride.  Again, I took very few photos since I have been there several times this year.  Here are just a couple I want to share with you.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Silverton & Red Mountain Pass, CO (9/11/2016)

Brother Tom and SIL Windy arrived late Friday night for a short visit.  Since their flight was into Grand Junction, it was very late by the time we got to Montrose.  That, along with a few good football games on TV, meant we didn't want to go far afield that Saturday.  This was accomplished by visiting some of my favorite stores, including consignment and antique shops, right here in town.

On Sunday, we made the trek to Ouray, then Silverton where we had a nice lunch to go along with some serious window shopping.  I've reached the conclusion that Silverton is the best town in the area for shopping, as they have a good variety of products that appeal to me. They also have some great art galleries, as well.

On the way home, we made a short detour into the South Mineral Creek area to take advantage of the good light occurring at that time.  I wanted to cross the creek and get a photo up the valley, but there was a "No Trespassing" sign just short of where I wanted to be.  So, I settled for this photo showing the "Private Property" by the stream.  It also shows how much color change has already occurred.  I'll be out to get photos of fall color pretty soon.
Next we took a longer detour, driving some old mining trails that pass a number of abandoned mine sites, not to mention some gorgeous scenery.
 Along the way, we spotted a red-tail hawk and several gray jays, aka "camp robbers".

The Brooklyn Mine was started in 1900 and continued sporadically for many years.  Located at 11,500 feet, it produced mainly gold, but also about twenty other minerals.
As we climbed up over 12,000 feet, there were many views of mountains sporting some of their fall colors. 

 The house shown in the next photo is for sale, so you might want to move quickly and make an offer.