Monday, July 6, 2015

Ouray, Colorado - Hiking

After leaving Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on Thursday morning, we made the drive south through the towns of Montrose and Ridgway on the way to Ouray.  I've enjoyed blog postings on about the town of Ouray and the beautiful surroundings, and it seemed liked the perfect destination to end our Colorado trip and enjoy an epic 4th of July celebration.

Ouray, Colorado

We arrived before our room was ready at the Hot Springs Inn, so we decided to check out two waterfalls in close proximity to the town.  The short hike into Box Canyon Waterfall was incredible - the thunderous roar of the partially hidden waterfall shook the entire canyon.  A trail leading across the "high bridge" over Box Canyon provides spectacular views and a case of vertigo for anyone uneasy with heights.  The hike to Cascade Falls, visible from Main Street, was also quick and provided access to the base of the falls.

Box Canyon Waterfall

View from the bridge over Box Canyon

Cascade Falls

We planned Friday to be our hiking day and we were overwhelmed with the choices available in the Ouray area.  Mt. Sneffels, a famous 14er near Ouray, seemed particularly awesome, but we figured it was too early in the season and we weren't equipped with good snow climbing gear.  Roger picked the hike to Ice Lake and we headed south on Friday morning to the trailhead near South Mineral Campground between Ouray and Silverton.  We were greeted with low clouds and rain as we began the hike, but no lightning to turn us back.  The trail emerged from the pine forest into a grassy meadow filled with flowers, waterfalls, and patches of snow.

Rainy hike to Ice Lake

Waterfalls in every direction on the way to Ice Lake

Columbines on the way to Ice Lake

As we reached Ice Lake, just under 4 miles from the trailhead, the skies began to clear.  The scenery was quintessential Colorado - absolutely spectacular.  We spent quite a bit of time at the lake enjoying the sunshine and the spectacular views before heading back down the trail.  Along the way, we were passed by a parade a backpackers heading up to the lake.  I imagine it was quite a crowd up at Ice Lake for the 4th of July weekend, and the campgrounds around the trailhead were overflowing when we returned.

Approaching Ice Lake

Approaching Ice Lake

We made it to Ice Lake

Ice Lake - full of ice

Views around Ice Lake

River crossing on the Ice Lake Trail

We had a good dinner at one of the livelier places on Main Street, the Ouray Brewery, and I was particularly excited about the quart sized beer cans available for purchase - the perfect size for post-adventure refreshment.  Wholesome Roger is not interested in beer, but he could not resist the sweet temptations of Mouse's Chocolates across the street!

Hiking reward

The 4th of July is a big deal in Ouray, like Christmas Day in Whoville.  The day started with a fundraising pancake breakfast and the Ourayce 10K, followed by a parade and water fights in the street, music in the park, and a great fireworks display to finish off the evening.  It was a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July and a fantastic finish to our trip through Colorado.

Finishing the Ourayce 10K

Happy Birthday America and Roger!

Ouray 4th of July parade

Ouray 4th of July parade

Ouray water fights

Ouray water fights

Ouray water fights