Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vacation: Day 9 - High Altitude Adventures of the Unplanned Kind...

We set out today with our friends Dick and Marsha Y. to go up Corkscrew Gulch, go as far as we could up toward California Pass, and then take a bunch of side-trips on the way back down to Silverton.  Our plans went well until we traveled up the road toward California Pass.  Just two days before, we had been turned around by snow when attempting to come up from the other (California Gulch) side.  But today when we got to the top, we met someone who told us that the pass had been cleared – so we could go all the way over the California Pass and down California Gulch.  So much for our carefully made plans – an instant revision took place!  Now we went through the pass, down California Gulch, then up Placer Gulch – where we had been turned around by snow just yesterday.  On the way up that gulch, we met some people who told us that it was open now!  So all the way across we went, and met up with the road from Animus Forks down to Silverton.  What a nice day it was – great scenery, great weather, and great company!

As if that wasn't enough good luck, we also discovered the very best wildflowers we had seen up to this point in the trip.  We ran into vast fields of dense wildflower carpets, including several species we had not yet seen in bloom, like the phlox at right.  Lots more photos down below, as usual...

The one slightly disappointing part of the day was the lack of wildlife.  We did have an enjoyable 15 minute or so viewing of a marmot colony at the top of Corkscrew Gulch.  There was an enormous male, several females, and several babies playing in the rocks.  But only saw one deer (on a distant meadowed knoll), no elk, no mountain goats, no moose, and no pika.  But the rest of the day more than made up for this...

We explored several sites with interesting mining artifacts, including another steam boiler:

Here are some scenes from our day's travel, including a few shots of us and our friends Dick and Marsha, taken by a friendly fellow we met at California Pass:

And here are the plants and flowers:

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