First thing we did was to visit the sites of yesterday's slides. They look much different now, partly because of the bright sunlight, and partly because the road crews have cleaned up a lot of the mess. Below is a photo of one site that still looks a mess, just upstream on the Animas River from the bridge we use to get to the cabin. The road through the mess is actually passable, though some spots look a little risky as there's a significant amount of water still flowing over (or down) the road, eroding constantly. The Animas River got “pinched” right here by the delta of mud and rock that got dumped into the river; the entire river now flows through a narrow gap there.
Next we ventured up the beginning of the Stony Gulch road, to just south of the Old Hundred mine site. We were looking for Rocky Mountain goats on the sides of the gulch, where we've seen them before. No luck today. But we did find a gorgeous display of fireweed, which of course I had to photograph.
Then we traveled a few miles further upstream on the Animas River, and turned into Maggie Gulch. We'd been there on previous trips, but not yet on this one. It was interesting and pretty, but not in the same league as some other places we've been here. I did find a few flowers to photograph, and there was some interesting old mining gear to poke around in. The highlight, though, was a romp through a flowered meadow by Miki and Race, chasing a ball. There are a bunch of photos below from that event, some of which we really like. Other dog lovers may like them as well.
Up to this point, it was a lovely day. Then we had to go and screw it all up by deciding to check out Lake Emma (at the head of the North Fork of Eureka Gulch). We'd never been there, and on the map it looked enticing: a lake roughly 750 feet in diameter at 12,200' altitude. It had to be great, right?
Which brings us to our warning: if you ever think of traveling to Lake Emma, just don't. Do something else instead. Something more fun, like getting a root canal.
Lake Emma is somebody's bad idea of a joke. First of all, there's no water in it – it's as dry as talcum powder. Secondly, not only is there nothing beautiful there, but it looks like someone went out of their way to make it ugly. Bare piles of talus and crushed rock are interspersed with singularly unattractive solid rock. Mosquitoes of unusual ferocity abound. Then to top all that off, someone decided to build the ugliest concrete and rusted iron mining infrastructure we've ever seen – and it's everywhere up there, not just the usual occasional blight upon the landscape. We're pretty sure that the toxic visual environment all by itself has permanently warped the wildlife there, and perhaps even the plants. For example, the familiar red paintbrush looks distinctly inferior in Eureka Gulch. We couldn't wait to get out of there!
On the way up to Lake Emma, we did see a beautiful waterfall, which I stopped to take a few photos of. Then we had a nice view of the lush looking South Fork of Eureka Gulch, but we didn't venture up there, as our experience at Lake Emma
|On the road to the cabin - bright sunlight makes wet stumps "steam"...|
|Animas River, showing slide across the road after highway crews cleared it. Note the large delta of mud and rocks in the river itself , and the "pinched" flow...|
|Seen along the road in Stony Gulch, while we looked for (and failed to find) Rocky Mountain Goats...|
|In the road cut of Maggie Gulch...|
|Two outrageously happy dogs chasing a ball through the flowered meadow in Maggie Gulch...|
|I win! I win! I got the ball!!!|
|The winner heads back to get another throw...|
|Two dogs come back to the mom dog when called. Sometimes...|
|Miki found it first, but Race is ready to take it away from him...|
|Race on an intercept course - the ball didn't even hit the ground...|
|Violet asters (I think) on a knoll over the Maggie Gulch road...|
|Old mining equipment at the end of the Maggie Gulch road. This is the top of a rock crusher, where the ore was poured in; much of the wood structure is long gone...|
|Side view of the cams that lifted and dropped the working "mallets" of the crusher. They're all on the same shaft, turned by belts driving those big wooden wheels...|
|Front view of those monster rock crushers, made by Allis-Chalmers in Milwaulkee. Can you imagine the difficulty of getting those huge castings to this location back in the 1800s?|
|The "mallets" that actually crushed the rock against an anvil. Look how deformed those anvils are from the work they've done!|
|On the Maggie Gulch road, alongside one of several waterfalls visible on the route...|
|A view up the South Fork of Eureka Gulch, from the North Fork...|
|Waterfall along the road in the North Fork of Eureka Gulch. This is a 1.7 second time exposure, which makes the water look soft...|
|At another point along that same waterfall, in a 2.1 second time exposure...|
|Along the road on the North Fork of the Eureka Gulch, with an old mining building visible on the slope over the FJ's steering wheel...|