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Saturday, September 18, 2021

New Dots!



Studies show that human beings crave/need novelty, lest we wither on the vine of life. While Bobbie and I love the excess and convenience of nearby trails, there's nothing like "New Dots" to recharge legs and soul. It fends off boredom (stagnation?) to climb out of comfy grooves every so often and break some new ground...be it a trail, changing jobs, new relationship or uprooting to someplace different. 

Coming off a busy week of mountain hiking and mountain biking, our legs were pleading for a break. We decided to take a drive south, over Red Mountain Pass to the Silverton area (AKA, ATV/Motorhead capitol of the world), maybe check out Ms Autumn's progress and try to locate a couple of obscure new-to-us trailheads we'd heard about. 

The first trail we tried to find was in the Bear Creek drainage (the one near Silverton, not Ouray). While it showed on our map, it proved to be quite difficult to find. We drove up and down a couple mile section of Highway 550 several times, stopping here and there to scout along the Animas River. Finally we parked, Bobbie went south and I went north. After 20 minutes or so I got a text from Bobbie. "I think I found it."

Sure enough, an unmarked gap in a thick patch of willows soon turned into a faint trail. We followed it about a hundred yards to the river, but could see where it started up again on the other side. The water was low, but still over our boots in places. We decided to return with Crocks, to better ford the creek and keep our boots dry.

We drove to Silverton and continued out of town toward Howardsville on a dusty gravel road that streamed ATVs going full tilt balls-to-the-walls, as if in a race to get where they were going. 

The map showed the general area for a trail to Hematite Lake. But again, there was no official Trailhead and thus no signage. We drove past a couple unmarked paths, then turned around to try the first one.

Both of us had a case of flat legs, so we only wanted to hike far enough to assure that this path was indeed the trail to Hematite Lake. We had heard it was an extremely steep climb. After about a quarter mile of gradual uphill, the trail shot skyward, up the side of a rocky drainage where steep switchbacks ensued...hard-packed and sprinkled with "marbles." Having only come a short distance, we decide to go a little farther. Yeah, right...    

Funny thing, how weary legs seem to revive after walking around a bit. But, of course, it proved to be a false revival. In addition to flat legs, the slope was south facing and it felt as hot as Phoenix in July. Sweat began to pour, stinging eyes and streaking sunglasses with rivulets of salt water. 

At this point I'm guessing the trail will take us up and over the above mountain. We push on...

Getting closer....but oh so slowly. Did I mention how hot it was???

Steep!!!! and Loose!!!

Looking down and cross-valley. Our car is at the bottom (sigh).

Our trail abruptly changed course, veering left and away from the mountain I thought (feared) we were headed for. Just as I breathed a sigh of relief, another mountain grew out of the horizon. God. WTF?



You can grasp how steep it is by the angle of the trees against the slope


Climbing higher, and higher, and higher. Unrelenting verticality...

2,000 vertical feet higher, Bobbie and I meet a young couple and their dog coming down. We must of looked like we just spent two hours in a sauna. They took pity and mustered words of encouragement: "Almost there." Needing a breather, I asked them where they were from. Turns out they drove all night from Evergreen to hike this trail. Of course you did. Youth. No limits, no boundaries.

Finally, over the next rise, sopping wet and dreading the descent, we laid eyes on the prize...



Heading down, down, down...


Panorama: Scroll Right...🔜

 Peace out,

mark and bobbie

3 comments:

  1. Never to old to break new ground, rather discover new hikes, that one seemed mostly an uphill trek all the way though, bet you sleep good that night.

    D & A

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful hike! had to chuckle when the young couple appeared like hopscotching kids "La de da . . . " and you guys are soaking wet and exhausted :)

    ReplyDelete

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