With due respect for a forecast that called for afternoon thunderstorms, and considering our "Jello" plan for a lengthy hike above timberline traversing the Dragon's Back's long, exposed ridge line—we were half asleep at the wheel well before old Sol shed light on Lovely Ouray.
Hell will freeze over and Heaven will go up in flames before my vocabulary pays proper justice to our many and sundry Red Mountain summits. I'm talking an unlikely airy range of oxidized iron-ore that defies description and, more often than not, a camera's capacity to capture its unique un-reality.
The above photos (minus the red mountain) are representative of a typical summer hike in our "backyard" San Juan Mountain Range...all green and woodsy, interspersed with waning remnants of the previous winter's snow.
The photo below is the exception, the untypical, the mold-breaking other-worldly Red Mountains. This gift usually comes with a price-tag...that of slogging switchbacks through boring stands of dark timber. But hey, you be the judge on whether Heaven is worth just a little bit of Hell...
This, to us, is worth all the enduring of shade, bugs, and tricky high stream crossings that leaves one spending the rest of the day slogging along in squishy boots and soggy socks.
"The Ponds;" always good for a "reflection" shot or two. It marks the beginning, of sorts, where switchbacking is replaced by a wandering route of one's own design...depending on just how steep-tolerant mood and legs are.
Again and again, we see evidence of last winter's record-setting avalanche season...trees, be they uprooted, bent over, or snapped like toothpicks, litter the base of mega "runs."
Above timberline...crisp clean air, with nothing to block 360 degrees of heavenly views. This is where the ridge-route to Red Mountain #1 steepens...a test for lungs and resolve.
Sometimes it's easier to slog snow than stumble up through loose angular rock.
Above, Bobbie chips away at our goal...one baby step at a time. The Ponds, way down in the basin, mark our progress. In the distance is the Jeep Trail that Leon ran down in the Alpine Marathon.
|The Top! 12,600 feet, give or take, and just shy of 4 miles.|
|The Dragon's Back (the ridge, not Bobbie)|
To the untrained eye, most of the remaining photos might appear to be redundant. But it was an exciting day to be on top due to well spaced, fast moving clouds. Note the "spotlight" effect...as sun highlights various portions of our surround in the midst of shade... a different scene minute to minute.
Thunder rolls in the distance. Time to head down...
|A look back up to where we were...|
|Shot from the top of Red Mountain 1|
Another adventure near Lovely Ouray!
Mark and Bobbie