Time Traveling: Alpine Loop (Corkscrew Gulch and Hurricane Pass)

Oh my goodness, what a fabulous day of riding this was. Each day brought us jaw-dropping scenery. On this day we rode up higher and higher until we were at the highest point we'd ever ridden. But only for a day...the next day we rode even higher. It made me think of that old song, "Take Me Higher." So, let's just see what happened on our second ride, shall we?

This was the day we got stuck at the road closure on our return trip. We passed through early in the morning, but then turned around to walk the streets of Silverton in the afternoon. Along the way, we passed through two tunnels. The bright sun wrecked my morning picture of this one, and so I caught it on the return trip.

The second one was unusual. It's known as a "snow shed," and functions as avalanche control. You can read more about how this works right here.

As I mentioned in yesterday's "Silverton" post, we were up early to get through the road closure before 8:30 a.m. We were traveling US Hwy 550, also known as the "Million Dollar Highway." Driving along, we came to beautiful fields of aspens, changing to their fall colors.

Across from the staging area, we could see them covering the hillside, and yes...these are all aspen trees.

Here's a closer look at them.

Running alongside the highway, was a rushing stream. I want you to check out the color of the water. Remember what you see here because I'm going to explain this in a future post.

Okay, so we girded our loins and started out.

As for the rules of the road, this is all you need to know:

There aren't enough superlatives to describe the incredible scenery on this day. There are three mountains like this, known unimaginatively as Red Mountain #1, Red Mountain #2, and Red Mountain #3.

It was impossible to capture the splendor of it in photographs. Here's a pano that I hope can give you some idea of this vast and incredible scenery. Click on the image to make it larger.

We just rode and rode and rode. "Wow!" was the word of the day. Around every corner was an even bigger wow!

This maze of trails is known as the Alpine Loop, and it can take a rider all the way to the town of Lakeview and beyond. However, ATV's cannot ride into Lakeview, and so a ferrying arrangement has to be set up ahead of time. We rode to the top of Hurricane Ridge and then turned around and returned to the staging area.

Climbing higher, we came to this reflective alpine lake.

And again...just beautiful mountains in every direction. Some people use ropes and pitons to get this high. We were riding our mechanical horses...so much more civilized.

Reaching the top, we were at our highest ever elevation. Yay us! You can read a little more about the history of the area at this link, although we were traveling in the opposite direction of what this article describes.

Along the way, we passed this abandoned mining operation.

Looking over the side at Hurricane Pass, we could see another alpine lake. From what we understand, the green color of the lake comes from glacial silt. Also known as rock flour or glacial flour, glacial silt is the sediment from ground up rock and gravel particles produced during glacial erosion. To our left and outside the frame, there was a small patch of ice, which would qualify as a small glacier.

From there, we turned around and returned to the staging area.

It was a wonderful ride with eye-popping scenery. It was after this ride that we encountered our experience with the road closure. We spent the rest of the day in Silverton. I told about our street-walking in a previous post

The sun is rising, and it's a new day. When the rain started yesterday afternoon, we decided to wait until later this afternoon to do our first riding. I'll catch you up on the riding we've done in my next post, and then we should be up-to-date ATVing-wise. Don't worry...the quilt shop is on my list too. 

By the way...Sadie is completely stressed out with all this traveling. Poor little thing:


Barbara said...

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. ~ John Muir

MissPat said...

Wow. Just Wow.

Darlene of Creative Latitude said...

Wowser, absolutely wowser. I'm stunned with the beauty you shared and I didn't even see it in person. Speechless I am.

piecefulwendy said...

Hmm, I've missed posts again, so will have to go back and catch up. Amazing views! Silverton is an interesting town. Sadie had me cracking up - she's clearly chilling on the trip!

Unknown said...

Thanks Barbara for posting stunning photos of our state. I never get tired of that blue sky and NO smoke. Enjoy your time here. Sharon in Northern Colorado

Margaret said...

Oh, your photos are so beautiful, and they bring back such memories for me. Many years ago, while visiting Ouray, my family attended mass at a very small Catholic Church. Our afternoon’s excitement was a drive to Silverton, and as we were merrily driving along, we saw the priest who said our mass, whooping it up in an open air Jeep. He was living the life and he knew it. Thanks for sharing all these marvelous photos!

Janarama said...

Wowza! Breathtaking views for sure. I'm always learning more and more about our beautiful country through your eyes and stories. Sadie looks like she took a chill pill to deal with all of the stress. LOL

Magpie's Mumblings said...

When we drove through the Rockies in BC we saw a lot of those snow sheds and were very relieved that we weren't driving through in the winter when there would be a need for them. It would be terrifying to see them in action I think. Once more, your photos are absolutely spectacular!

Susan said...

I will have to go back and look at the previous posts since this is the first post I have received since you said you wouldn't be posting due to no internet where you were going.

I wish I was there. It is so beautiful.

Kate said...

The scenery is amazing. We did some hiking when we there, but you can definitely see more via ATV. What an amazing trip.