Day 172 of 365; A day of Jeeping in the mountains
Today we started out by again packing up the back of the Jeep with an entire cooler full of food/drinks this time, since we had the entire day (until 4/5ish) to go Jeeping, emergency gear, hats, coats, etc again. I honestly think it would be very foolish to head Jeeping in the mountains (especially for your first time when you don’t yet know the trails/area, and how long they take or where they go etc) to not take ANY emergency gear with you. Always be prepared for anything, and IF you bring your camera/phone camera along, only take pics when the Jeep is completely stopped, a photo of a cliff would be worthless if it went over the edge with you.
We headed down south of Ouray towards Silverton on the Million Dollar Highway (Highway 500)… Half way down to Silverton, the road gets REALLLY windy, with many hair-pin curves and NO guard rails ..again if you take this route, go slow, don’t look down, look straight ahead/right in front of you, and DONT answer your phone, talk, text, anything on your phone, or take photos while moving …. we later heard stories of people going over these ledges, and most likely it was because they either freaked out and over-corrected, were texting, or drinking, just be SMART and you will be fine 🙂
Once down in Silverton we stopped at a little coffee shop ..I think the only one in town..and grabbed two big to-go cups of nice warm coffee..mmm!
The first trail of the day we hit and conquered was the bottom end of Alpine Loop towards Animas Forks , this was by far my FAVORITE trail of the entire trip, mostly because it lead to a beautiful old mining community with several old abandoned homes and mining equipment/buildings. If we wouldn’t of had a time-crunch to get the rental back, I most likely would have spent a LOT more time at the Animas Forks area, had a picnic, done some hiking etc. Out of all of the Jeep trails we did, this is one that I WOULD go back to. There is one area with cliffs around a corner, but the road is a little bit wider and the ledge isn’t quite so steep, but most of the trail is beautiful and VERY easy, no obstacles or anything, it was mostly gravel/rocks the entire way.
We stopped at Animas Forks and didn’t continue on through the Alpine Loop Trail, which from there Zig-Zags up the mountain-again we couldnt because of the time crunch. So we drove the trail back down into Silverton, and headed north on The Million Dollar Highway to the Browns Gulch Trail, this trail was NOT marked, we found it by using my sisters GPS and then matching it up with the Map I bought at the Jeep rental place (the map is a MUST also). Browns Gulch had a few bigger rocks and some cliffs, and once we got up into the Pine-Trees we were even Jeeping through a little big of snow.
We found another area along some cliffs with some old mining buildings and equipment and got out of the Jeep to take some photos. Headed up the trail some more and came to a HUGE block of snow, which there was no way around, and no tracks through it, the snow was at least over the hood of the Jeep and in a weird shape/angel where there was no way we could have gone over it without tipping the Jeep .. and not a good idea with it being a rental 😉
I now kind of wonder what was beyond that snow, and who knows maybe that was Gods way of protecting us from something bad happening up ahead.
I helped my sister back up onto the rocky hill and turn around with several Y-Turns, thankfully this was in the Pine Tree area and NOT on a cliff ledge-whew!
We headed back down Browns Gulch, and then continued up Highway 550/Million Dollar Highway and turned into the other end of Alpine Loop and stopped to take some photos by the sign and there was a guy there on his 4 wheeler and I asked how the trail was and he said “Just go SLOW, there are some cliffs and I have SEEN guys go off on this one.” Hmm… lets just say in the back of my mind the whole time Jeeping I knew how risky it was, but actually HEARING someone say that right as we were heading on the trail made my heart jump back up and become a big ol’ lump in my throat…but we said a quick prayer and continued on.
This North end of Alpine Loop is a lot rockier and has some bigger rocks to get over-ones you actually have to think about, which made it kind of fun, there were some cliffs, and it was about lunch time and we found a little pull/loop out at the top of a little hill, and we were going to have a picnic just in the trees/woods where there was no view, but then I decided to walk a few more feet and I found a BEAUTIFUL perfectly flat grassy opening on the side of the mountain with a gorgeous view of the snowy mountains and even a small waterfall.
We sat up here I think for way over an hour, the sun was HOT HOT HOT as the UV Ray level in the mountains is much stronger, but in the shade it was perfect, unlike Wisconsin where even in the shade its still hot because of the humidity.
As I recall I think this was the last Jeeping trail we did, and ended it just right with a picnic with a beautiful view.
We washed the Jeep (per the rental companies instructions), returned it and then went out to dinner later on at a YUMMY Mexican restaraunt right in Ouray.