13 July 2006

SW Colorado family trip - part 3/3; best camp and water fight western style

We couldn't find a good camp down low so we headed high. Picayune Gulch to be exact. The 4x4 guide said easier than Engineer Pass, with an exposed shelf road start, so we headed up. MIa & I were not happy. Luckily Julia said - Papa can do it. Mia & I kept quiet and continued. It was steep and gravelly with a steep drop off, let's say a cliff, to the left. I would have rather been in 1st gear 4x4 Hi but I didn't want to let off the go pedal to shift so I stayed in 2nd. Man, was it steep .. and gravelly. Tires didn't spin though. Bump did fine, with my nervous guidance.

We found a great site at 12,075' according to my GPS. The picture above is from the next morning. Here's another picture from the morning .. and here's one showing the evening before with clouds moving in.

The next morning we headed up the road to a saddle and Julia climbed her second 13K peak. Again, we were amazed. We drove down Placer Gulch and stopped at the Silver Queen Stamp Mill.

Mia had enough of waterfalls, mines and bumpy driving. We headed for Silverton to be real tourists. A good meal and we headed to Ouray, as the streets flooded in Silverton. I mean the streets were streams.

We were to meet Christy at the mountain store at 6pm. We found her and a camp site .. at a secret location. It was 4th of July weekend and the pickings were slim. We climbed some nice but odd climbs the next day, at Pool Wall. I, and later Christy, got spanked on a 5.10d. No way 10d, sez I. The rain kicked in and we waited it out under an overhang. While we were waiting, we hear a roar. A flash flood comes out of a gully off to the side. Spectacular. Wish I had the camera for that one.

Then to a real western waterfight. Two firefighters against 2 other firefighters. There were even referees. It was packed in downtown Ouray and the crowd was rowdy. These guys must have been exhausted .. and hypothermic after an hour of this stuff.

We found some better climbs, at Pool Wall, the next day. I'd definitely recommend Empire of Dirt, 5.10d. Overhangs, slabs, pockets ... If you're short bring a stiff draw for this and others at Pool Wall. It started raining again. We checked the forecast. The rest of the week's forecast was worse. We drove home. A stop in Paonia for fresh cherries finished the trip nicely!

Check here for the trip picture album.

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