Tuesday, October 09, 2007

High Country Adventure

Oh boy, I am way behind in posting pictures, so let's just get right to it, shall we?

We spent Labor day weekend in beautiful western Colorado. On Labor day, we took a Jeep trip up into the mountains, following part of the Alpine Loop. This trip took us from Ouray to Lake City over Cinnamon Pass. Here are some pictures of the breathtaking views along the way.

First stop was for lunch at a wide spot in the trail. In the next two pictures you can see up we are heading up towards timberline with thunderstorms rolling over the mountains. It was just a little too early in the year to see the aspen turn gold. A very few trees were just starting but mostly it was still green. Above timberline, though, you can see that the tundra has started to lose it's green, taking on a golden orangey-brown color that is really beautiful.

The next two pictures are from another stop a little higher up. We're getting closer to timberline here and you can see more of the tundra and it's fantastic colors. In this first picture you can see part of a trail, which I think went over by the old mine in the next picture. It's not the trail we were on, at any rate.

This whole area is dotted with old mines and mining equipment. A lot of what's left is blink-and-miss-it type remnants, maybe just a hole where a shaft goes into the mountain, or some rusting equipment. Some of the remains are pretty substantial, though, like the mine (or mill?) pictured here. Either way, you have to admit those were some seriously hardy folks that mined this area. Even today this is only accessible with 4-wheel drive and only for about six months of the year. The mine equipment and building materials must have been brought in by mule or possibly oxen, but that would have been about the limits of your "shipping" options. Keep in mind that the air is very thin at this altitude; if you're not acclimated to the elevation, any exertion leaves you gasping for breath. Oh, and it can get real cold up here, even in the summer. It just leaves you pretty amazed at what it must have been like to try and dig a living out of the mountains 100 or so years ago.

The Jeep at the top of Cinnamon Pass. This trip really made me miss our old Jeep, they just go anywhere and boy are they a lot of fun.

The obligatory shot of the sign at the top of Cinnamon Pass. C'mon though, elevation 12,640 feet? That's pretty darn high and worthy of a picture, don't you think?

This picture looks back towards the trail we just drove up, towards Ouray. We are above timberline and the tundra is just beautiful. I've been fascinated by the idea of timberline ever since I first saw it as a kid. There's trees, then suddenly not-trees. It's not like it's gradual.

Also from the top of Cinnamon Pass, this time looking down the trail towards Lake City. You can see timberline here, and also the thunderstorm that would catch us later on down the trail. In the meantime, though, the sun was shining and it was quite beautiful looking down over most of the world.

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