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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Oh Danny Boy


It's that time of year. High up groves of aspen—now all but bare of leaves—assume a austere stick-figure mood. Old Man Winter lurks just around the corner. Time is of the essence, now, as we try to squeeze as many outings as possible before the snow and blow and the death pall of insipid grayness creeps down mountain. Thus we are motivated, to soak in the last vestiges and muted remnants of color that lingers in and around Lovely Ouray.

As Bobbie and Ruthie pondered round and round regarding the day's trail options over coffee via text, I tried to stop the madness and blurted out, Sutton Trail! I must confess that Sutton does not make my top ten list of favorite hikes from Lovely Ouray, especially during summer when I find it too exposed, too hot, and, having done it a bazillion times, a tad boring out-and-back. I don't know, it always leaves me underwhelmed. What can I say? I'm nothing but a spoiled rotten trail-snob. 

On the plus side, Sutton has does have convenience going for it in that we can leave the car parked and hike-from-home. It's a good workout, too, as the initial segment is quite rigorous, to say the least, a long series of switchbacks that climbs above town to several landscape overlooks of Lovely Ouray.   

We decided on a "sunup" start (9:30 am, here in the bowels of our mountainous surround). It was a nippy walking to Sutton's trailhead as breath escaped in choo-choo puffs of steam. It didn't take long for old Sol to peek over Mount Sunblock, fulfilling the lucky-guess forecast of Ouija Board weather wizards who seemingly work from windowless rooms in deep dark caves.  

Scattered clouds anointed the morning's deep blue dome of Colorado sky. Switchback by switchback we ascended above town, taking in Ouray's vivid and panoramic surround. 

A leaning sign marked the first overlook. From there Sutton transitions from climbing to more of a kinder, gentler trail that rolls with the punches as it follows a pleasant bench that parallels the Million Dollar Highway, cross canyon and southbound. Evidence of the "white plague" from the last storm garnished the shoulders of our path.

Yet another town "overlook" from Sutton

 Mount Abram, Ouray's familiar snowcapped sentinel.

Videographers at work for their "Two Old Broads" Vlog

Our destination was an olden mine site, some 4 miles distant from home. The deeper into the canyon we hiked, the deeper the snow...and ice. We found some nice groupings of aspen still holding their leaves of gold.

Bear Creek Falls and Highway 550

Flagged by a clothesline loaded with donated articles of clothing (as if left out to dry) one of Neosho Mine's outbuildings is easily noticed from Highway 550. The impossibly steep and deep canyon that stands between the highway and the mine shack baffles tourists, as in, How in the Hell does the "residents" get over there? 

After a beautiful morning, about the time we reached our Neosho Mine destination, dark clouds moved in and snuffed out the sun. Temperatures dropped. The wind picked up. And, of course, I'm underdressed in shorts and a lightweight flannel shirt. Just another reminder to not dress according to forecasts from quacks in caves with no windows.

Now here's an interesting and little known tidbit regarding a well known Irish song that has connective roots to the Neosho Mine above Lovely Ouray...

Now get outside and take a hike. And if you can't, be sure to check out Bobbie's weekly Youtube Vlog, Getting High With Two Old Broads. It's a sweet, slightly quirky piece of work that takes viewers up, up and away on selected mountain hikes. 

Peace Out,

Mark and Bobbie


  1. A lovely fall hike! Love the photos.

    1. Gracious, son! Sutton is better in late fall with a little color and snow...and cooler temps :)

  2. Nice photos. I agree that trail is not a favorite, but your photos make it very alluring.

  3. Mark the Margaret Weatherly story was amazing, we have been aware of that cabin across the gorge every time we pass thru it but never got around to learning all about it, too many other stories to absorb about the San Juans and Ouray and the Western Front . But the history of the mine and the story of Margaret & her husband and the connection to the song "O Danny Boy" is amazing, I went right to Goggle and found several videos on it, Who Knew? We were impressed, but I bet there are more stories out there about the people and events that took place in those awesome San Juan Mountains.
    So again Thank You for bringing the story to new light!
    Loved the little hike a lot, just a rambling in the mountains and forrest.......nothing could be finer !

    Getting ready for The Pineapple Express tomorrow and the end to FIRE SEASON IN N. CALIF :)
    Stay Warm & Thirsty My Friends.
    D & A

    1. Glad you enjoyed the link, Doug and Al. I was surprised by this story...


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