Monthly Archives: July 2012
Olaf came in at the crack of dawn with plans for an early hike. There is a monsoon airflow over us right now and it’s leading to convective rain in the afternoons starting at about 1:30pm. That limits the hiking time to mornings only – and needing early starts.
I quickly packed – filling the water bottles and making sure everything else I might need was still in my pack. I’d left the Platypus full of water and it seems to have leached some of the plastic flavor out. I’ll have to keep trying.
I then had a quick breakfast and we were out the door a little after 7am. The next discussion was about where to go. First suggestion was up Black Bear Creek and then down Engineer Pass – but that seemed like a bit more than could be done in a morning. We thought about just going up and down Black Bear Creek, but Olaf had been there the day before.
So we came up with the trails near Dexter Creek … which we didn’t quite know since we’d forgotten a map. I remembered there were several starting from the same trail head that went up radiating up valleys with a trail connecting them along the ridgeline. But this wasn’t the most popular of locations, so the trails might have been only on the maps and not on the ground. The Ouray Hiking Group tends to claim some trails which are not 100% actual.
We drove past the Dexter Creek turn and out to the end of the road for the Subaru. We were above the houses in the canyon just outside of Ouray. When you get up it’s always amazing how many houses are out in the bush. Everyone wants their 5 acres with a view.
We walked up the road for about 1.7 miles and came to the actual trailhead to Cutler Creek. When we went up the trail to the sign-in box where there was a map so we could see what we wanted to attempt. We could head up any of the valleys, and once at the top walk along the ridge to the north until we came to the next choice which would allow us to return. It the trails actually existed.
The Cutler Creek trail started like a real trail. Clear dirt to walk on. Our first choice was to turn onto the Okeson Trail. But it didn’t seem to exist. There was a meadow with no track across it, nor any sign of something leading into the trees on the far side. So we stuck to the Cutler Creek – which then split into the Cutler Creek proper and the Left Fork.
We took the Left Fork, since it went up, and it seemed a little more like a trail. Both were rather grassy and narrow.
The trail was rather nice, following a small stream on the cool shady side of the valley. We then discovered a gully that was about 4ft deep beside the trail which had recently been full of water – the grass on the sides was still flattened. A little father on there was another channel which had covered the trail with dirt and rocks – and then we came to the third channel which had buried about 75 ft of trail under mud and rocks.
There had been a bit of a flash flood in the area, probably on the Saturday two days earlier. The lower main river hadn’t shown any signs of the flood – but some of the higher really showed signs of the moving water.
And then we got into the hail zone. Lots of Aspen leaves down and pine branch tips covering the trail. Some of the gullies still had piles of hail in them. It made us remember our plans to be back by 1:30pm. Getting wet and cold is one thing – dealing with flash floods is another.
We were getting near to the top when we came to a steep meadow with no trail across it. there were some posts and cairns going straight up, so we followed them to the far side and then stumbled upon the trail again.
Some more up, and then we were on the ridge … but still in the trees, so there wasn’t much to see. The trail to the north was rather thin, and we didn’t have time for exploring. We decided to go south on the stronger ridgeline trail and then turn around and go back the way we’d come.
We found a view point that allowed us to look at Courthouse Mt. – the walk of two days ago. All you see from almost all angles in the cliffs that make the halls of the shape. The almost 45deg slope of the triangle on top of the cliffs reflects climb on the trail up the back – and average of 18% gradient, with the top third 28%.
After the look it was time to retract our steps. Going down the trail didn’t look anything like it did going up. As the seasons change the trails also become completely different experiences.
We got back to the car just as the rain and thunder and lightening arrived. The walk was 10 miles up and down. It started at 8,229 and rose 2,640 ft to 10,869. It took us about 5.5 hrs with no stops, since we were back by late lunchtime.
I am slowly cleaning up my ‘brand’ – i.e. my virtual life. Amazon now has my three books – The Binding Returned, The World Revealed, and The Goddess Reborn in their paperback and Kindle editions all mentioning each other and showing up on my Author Page. I just have to get my Author Page to reflect me – ‘Jeffrey Morrow Miller’, and not all the other ‘Jeffrey Miller’ people who write, or have backgrounds in ecological research very similar to mine.
And then there is the famous ‘Jeffrey Miller’ who was shot at Kent State on May 4, 1970.