July 24, 2014
|Heading south on Hwy 550...a view of the San Juans|
|Looking back on Ouray as we ascended into the mountains.|
We headed south on Hwy 550, first thru Ridgeway and then Lovely Ouray.
Our mouths dropped at the beauty all around us and we hadn't even hit the trail yet...once past Ouray this stretch of highway is called the Million Dollar Highway.
I do the navigating...the guide is very simple to follow using waypoints and mileage.
There is room at the summit to park and explore the rocks. I learned the hard way (last year in Moab) to always wear my hiking boots on these excursions...
Standing at the summit looking west was one of the most spectacular sights I think I have seen. The valley is formed by the Howard Fork of the San Miguel River. Past the valley, the distinctive volcanic peak of Lizard Head and three fourteeners can be seen on a clear day.
The trail down the west has one switchback just past the summit followed by a continuous run down the side of a slope. It is narrow...
|looking down on Ophir...|
At the foot of Ophir Pass is the town of Old Ophir. Gold was discovered in Ophir in 1875. Population grew quickly to about 500. But word of a silver strike in a nearby town caused miners to vacate. As it turned out, the silver deposits were short lived so miners returned to Ophir. The closest smelters were in Silverton...thus the Ophir Pass.
We did ride thru a crop of aspens and a thick ground cover of Queen Anne's Lace...standing tall among those beautiful trees.
From here the trail leads to Hwy 145. We had planned to also take the short 4.4 mile trail to Alta Lakes. But about the time we got to the highway, the sky let loose and it rained...a torrential down pour. We headed home instead.
Ophir Pass was without a doubt one of the most spectacular rides we have been on. As with most hikes or trails, you just have to be there to get the real picture as photographs just don't seem to show the grandeur....scanning the miles and miles of endless views, the smells of the damp forest, the waves of colors , even the sound of rocks crunching under our feet at the pass...all combined to make for a day full of true happiness to be alive.
Thanks for stopping by...until next time,
Up next...Yankee Boy Basin