July 13, 2020 Montrose, CO Yankee Boy 4WD (Day 3)

What a fantastic day we had! It was a warm morning and the weather forecasters were predicting rain showers moving through the high country. We’d have to play it by ear once we got up into the mountains. We packed snacks and dressed for some walking (if necessary) because we wanted to be prepared. We left at 9:20 and I was doing the driving to give Bob a break. We headed out on Highway 50 on the same road we took to the town of Ridgway yesterday. We had passed this field of hops growing behind these tall fences before, but I missed the picture opportunity. So here it is now. I had never seen it grown before.

In Montrose, Bob was able to snap a picture of 2 more fabulous statues on the street corners.

Once we got out of Montrose, we were in the country heading towards the mountains. I never get tired of seeing them.

We entered Ridgway at the foot of the San Juan Mountains as the city sign says.

Once we left Ridgway, we were in the lush green valley driving toward the mountain peaks and red rock canyons.

The sign warned us to be on the lookout for sheep. We still haven’t seen any.

The highway follows the Uncompahgre River for a long ways. The Uncompahgre River is named for the local Native American tribe. The drive to Ouray (pronounced You-ray) was only 35 miles, but very scenic.

Mt. Sneffels could easily be seen.

We finally arrived at Ouray. Ouray was a busy place and Jeeping is a very popular activity.

In Ouray, Bob and I switched places and he continued driving from there.

We were driving on the highway leading out of town toward Box Canon.

We would stop and check that out on our way back. We found the road that we were looking for that take us to Camp Bird and Mine and Yankee Boy Basin in Canyon Creek.

Yankee Boy Basin is considered a Class 2, Moderate 4-WD Trail. Near Box Canon, we got a fabulous view of the town of Ouray below.

We followed the Camp Bird Road and had awesome views of the valley.

The beginning part of the road was wide and scenic.

We crossed the Uncompahgre River a couple of times.

There was a lot of traffic on this road whether it was side-by-side OHV’s ( off highway vehicles), dirt bikes, 4-WD vehicles, and even regular cars.

The road climbed above the river as it carved its way through the canyon down below.

We got to a point on the road where it became tenuous and very narrow on rocky ledges.

We stopped here because Bob felt uncomfortable going any further.

Ran, Jane, and I got out to look around the bend to see what the road looked like from there. The view was spectacular in this part of the canyon.

After walking farther down the road, we could see that the road past this cliff was better.

Ran and Jane stepped near the edge for this picture, but not too close.

I had to look over the edge as well.

The river raged down below us.

On the rock wall, we noticed this memorial cross and placard of people who had died there. That was a little unnerving.

Back at the Jeep, we agreed that we would try and go farther, but Randy would drive.

Bob would sit in the back.

So on we went. At times, the road was wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass with the edges lined by pine trees.

At other times, it was narrow and if you met someone going in the other direction, someone would have to find a place to pull over and let them go by.

Those yellow poles marked the edge of the cliff.

We came upon the site of the Lower Camp Bird Mining and Milling Complex.

In 1896, Thomas Walsh discovered gold 2 miles south of here. In 1898, he built this mill and an aerial tramway to transport the gold between the mine above and the mill here.

We ran into 3 guys that were putting air back into their tires and we talked with them about what to expect on the rest of the drive up.

We made a decision to go on because the gentleman said it would be a drive to remember, so we had to “air down” our tires in order to soften the ride and get better traction. We all tried to help.

Randy found a stick to help him with his job and take some strain off of his back.

This was a touring vehicle that takes people up to the top. Their slogan is “You look. We drive.”

We continued on up even though the skies looked a little threatening.

This rock overhang made us a little nervous because we didn’t want to be forced to the outside of the road and nearer the cliff’s edge.

Randy did a great job of avoiding the edge and the rocks. Bob’s good eyes spotted this deer in the upper meadows.

We came upon a new restroom facility being built.

Mining has been important in this area for over a hundred years and there are many mines in the area. Here are the remains of one.

We had driven 10 miles on Camp Bird Road to find our ultimate destination of Yankee Boy Basin.

At this point, we were at an elevation of 10,787 ft.

The road changed a lot and we dropped to 4 low. It also started to drizzle and encountering multiple vehicles that were on the way down didn’t make it any easier.

The rain helped to keep down the dirt and dust, but made the rocks somewhat slippery.

The drive also became more technical as far as what “line” to follow over and around bigger rocks and ruts in the road.

Nearer the top, we reached Twin Falls–2 sets of double falls.

Also at the top, the wildflowers were in bloom with a rainbow of colors. This is the state flower of Colorado–the Columbine.

At the point where we stopped to get out and stretch our legs, there were amazing views in every direction.

The road continued up farther in this direction.

The elevation was now 11,216 ft.

We could see that the road went on and became steeper, narrower, and more technical, starting with this puddle crossing, so we decided to stop. We had contemplated that for awhile, but made the right decision.

It was cold up there with a brisk wind blowing and more threatening weather seemed to be moving in. I could zoom in with my camera and see hikers and vehicles up there.

There was even an outhouse up there.

We had a few snacks, looked around, and checked out the area.

On our way down, I wanted to check out another waterfall, so I put on my rain poncho since it was starting to rain, and walked down to it.

On my short walk back to the Jeep, I heard thunder and everyone else saw the lightning, so I scurried back and we headed down the canyon. People were still coming up and at times, it took some maneuvering to get around each other.

This car went ahead of us under that rock I previously showed you. That’s how we must have looked when we did it, except when you’re doing it, it feels a lot different.

We passed this grader on the way up in a wide section of road. Going down we met in a narrow section and he had to back down, so we could get past him.

The scenery going down somehow looks a little different.

We met this group of vehicles as we neared the bottom.

We stopped near Box Canon like we said we would and checked it out. It is actually a very narrow, 3-sided box canyon where they do mountaineering. We stood on the bridge and watched the climbers.

Randy didn’t want to get too close to the edge.

We got a chance to talk to the climbers after they finished, while we filled our tires with air.

Back in Ouray, we stopped for a late lunch at the Ouray Brewery.

They had these cool swings for chairs at the bar.

We wanted to sit upstairs, but the wait was too long, so we ate inside.

Things were busy in town and masks were required on the street and in the businesses. We checked out one t-shirt shop before heading back to the campground.

Leaving town, we got a good look at the Hot Springs Hotel and Pool.

We got back to the campground around 4:30 and didn’t have to worry about dinner. Around 6:00, Randy came by to let us know that 6 cop cars showed up at the storage unit buildings across the street. They put 2 guys in handcuffs and hauled them away. Jane was in the office getting copies made when the manager explained what was happening. The story is that one guy was going through the campground late at night stealing whatever they could get their hands on. He was living in one of the storage units and showering at the campground. The other guy was dealing drugs. Weird stuff!

Ran and Jane came over for a little while before sunset to hang out. We were planning to do a campfire, but it started to rain after Auggie and I got back from our walk and darkness fell. Ran and Jane came over after viewing the sunset to discuss plans for tomorrow and then everyone called it a night. A light rain continued into the evening.

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