Wonder Dog Aspen struck a snow-pose on a recent walkabout. Aspen's Master, Tamara (Bobbie's hiking buddy and summertime employer) was surprised she held the pose long enough to allow me to fetch my camera from its pouch. Good girl, Aspen. More on that hike later. Let's start with a "Rails to Trail" stroll along the Uncompaghre Riverway path.
It appears our two-week "January Thaw" is kaput. The last couple of days brought 20 inches of snow to Lovely Ouray, ugh, just as the mud was finally drying out. It dawned clear as crystal this morning, the kind of Eagle's eye clarity that fills the high altitude vacuum of a recently departed winter storm and plunges thermometers below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Pre-storm, we frolicked in a respite of warmth and sun like a bunch of cabin fevered kids. One pleasant day we headed off to Ridgway for a river walk. Most of the Eagles had moved on by then, but we managed to spy a few stragglers, hunting field mice from upper limbed perches of surreal Cottonwoods. It's hard to fathom that on a hot summer day one mature cottonwood can pilfer streamflow at an astonishing rate of 100 gallons per hour. Multiply that times thousands of trees per mile and it's a wonder any water escapes Colorado at all.
The paved trail passed a collection of weathered, horse drawn wagons and farm implements from yesteryear. At least poor ranchers and sod-busters didn't have to worry about flat tires...
Now to the Ice Park Loop Trail. We stopped by Tamara's house as she and Aspen wanted to join us. Their muddy Jeep is typical of all vehicles in Ouray during winter. Feeding coins into a carwash machine is a waste of money till the end of April.
Along the way, ice climbers readied ropes in preparation to rappel into the Ice Park's canyon. The metal contraption is fitted with hand/foot holds for those who want want to test their skills against negative slope.
Up canyon from town ice continues; it's created by spraying water over the edge when nighttime temps consistently drop below freezing…usually in late November. It can be a bitterly cold sport as low winter sun doesn't reach far into the canyon. It's also dangerous; hazards include falling chunks of ice (or other climbers) that can knock you off the wall. Lead climbing is particularly dangerous as one climbs above their rope, trusting that a fall will not yank out their last ice anchor. But it is "ice," after all, not rock. Here's a Youtube link that will give you a better understanding of Ice Climbing in Lovely Ouray.
Tamara, Bobbie, and Aspen…slip sliding back into town.
Oak Street in Lovely Ouray. Notice how little snow there is on south facing slopes. What a difference two days and 20 inches of snow can make; from color to black and white, overnight. It was so warm it began as rain…unusual for Ouray in January!!!
I'm determined to post my efforts...the sequential steps and finished products, no matter how good, bad, or ugly. Trust me, writing is "safer" than watercolor painting. There is no going back if you lose or ruin your "whites" as there is no such thing as a white watercolor that will cover mistakes.
Tip number one: Preserve and protect areas of white paper. You will need it to contrast the juicy dark rich blends of blues, reds, and greens.
Till next time,
mark on the mend.