Friday, October 3
Friday dawned clear and crisp and it was time to move again. Because of the steep narrow curvedness of the Million Dollar Highway, we decided to drive separately over Red Mountain Pass and down into Ouray. Once there, we hooked up again and drove north to Ridgway State Park. Driving this route down from Silverton once again reinforced how far past peak most of the trees were, so while I would have loved to linger around this whole area another several days, it was best to move on. We drove passed Ridgway SP 2 years ago on our last aspen tour and thought it looked like a nice central spot to camp while we explored the surrounding mountain roads. The sites are widely spaced and include electricity, nearby water and a dump for $20 per night. There are several loops in this campground – all were hardly populated. We talked with a ranger at the visitor center who gave us an update on road conditions and made some recommendations for drives. We cross-referenced those with what Mary has collected and decided on CR 7 for an afternoon look. We had to drive up almost 7 miles through a rural landscape before the color started getting nice and the views nicer. Eventually we came round a bend and saw one of the iconic views in the area. Mt. Sneffels looming over a beautiful aspen encrusted valley and pasture. A few horses completed the scene in the foreground. Unfortunately, this time of day makes the light too harsh for great images, so we continued on. There were quite a few nice groves along the way, and as we often do, we stopped whenever the muse struck. We headed back earlier than we might have. We both wanted to watch Game 1 of the National League Wildcard playoff game. The Giants just barely made it into the playoffs and have to play the best team in the National League – The Washington Nationals. They won resoundingly!
Saturday, October 4
I was pretty sure the backroads would be crammed with leaf peepers today, it being Saturday, but much to our relief, there was relatively little traffic on our chosen route of Owl Creek Pass. Today was going to be quite long because the route we want to take makes a long 80 mile loop through the mountains, then back down highway 50 through Montrose and back to camp in Ridgway. We decided to wait until about the halfway point before deciding to turn around or continue on and do the loop. We got an early start and headed up the mountain. Bright sunlight meant we had to be a little more resourceful for make interesting photos. Backlighting was the best option, but I would also tend to walk into a grove to photograph so that the harsh light would be diffused in the tree canopy. The road was in pretty good shape despite recent bouts of rain and snow up here. There were a few wet patches and mud/pot holes, but it was easy to drive all the way. And the scenery just kept getting better. We made thea decision to drive the loop back to camp, and we continued on all the way around back US 50.By now it was mid afternoon and the light was beginning to get nice again. We stopped often of course, but also looked at other things beside trees. We found interesting ice formations along the road, and played with camera motion to blur trees and light. It is pretty easy to use up the day like this. But all good things end, so soon we were descending back down to highway level and zooming home. We will be pretty much out of touch for a few days. Here in the Kebler area, there is no phone/internet connections. To post our blogs and check email, we came into Crested Butte for the day.