Friday, 24. June 2011 22:03
Disclaimer: first off, this is the first time I’ve ever been over the Alpine Loop of Silverton Colorado.
Heather, Malcolm and I were taking the day off to adventure to Lake City for lunch and back via the 4 wheel drive mountain pass road called the Alpine Loop which includes Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass. There was way too much information to take in about the hot spots along the 4 wheel road journey. I have tried to remember most of it and validate names and locations, however I may have them out of order.
The idea is to take all of you on this trip with us so that you may enjoy it as we did. Malcolm was born in Durango and raised in Silverton his whole life. He and his parents have been on almost every inch of the alpine peaks of the San Juan mountains that surround Silverton. His family owned a jeeping excursion company for years. He was an impeccable guide. Heather has learned much as well in her ten years in Silverton and gave her own version and flavor to the trip.
This trip begins at 10:30 am today June 24th, 2011, and ended at 6:30pm. Most of the photographs were taken while the jeep was moving. In other words we were bumping and swaying and lurching along. Many photos were taken so that you may sit in the back seat with me and experience what I experienced as if you had taken the trip yourself. This means that there may be reflections in the windows, possibly some blurriness, etc. Most of the pics are just as the camera took them as there is hardly a place where the panorama isn’t just perfect as captured.
This is a photo heavy post. I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me, with Malcolm and Heather as our guides.
Leaving Silverton our first stop was Eureka where the original jail house still stands. There were once around 500 hundred residents at this thriving mining now ghost town. That’s the size of Silverton’s now year round residents.
Malcolm and Heather giving us the villain look from inside the old jail.
We passed a couple old mines along the way to Animas Forks, the ghost town that marks the spot where we start up into the passes.
Also along the way Mal and Heather pointed out two cabins that folks currently live in during the winters. They ski up to them. Check this picture out – can you find the cabins?
Okay I know not fair, try this cropped version of the same photo.
Now do you see them? Okay I’ll make a closer cropped version of the same photo.
About now? Yes one is on the far right and the other is up in the saddle on the far left. The left one looks like a rock almost with a smaller out building just to its left almost dead center in the saddle. Now go back and check out the first pic. That’s WAY up there!
After the mines, cabins, jail houses, and Animas Forks
Animas Forks – this photo was actually taken on our way back down on the way home. On the way up we drove right through the ghost town but my photos didn’t turn out. On the way back Malcolm and Heather were discussing the Walsh House. Mr. Walsh who bought the home was the last private owner of the Hope Diamond which he purchased for his daughters birthday present. Now how’s that for history? All the way out in the vast primitive mountains of Colorado. If you look to the middle/right of the photo you will see a building by the road. Here it is cropped out.
Yep that’s the Walsh House of Animas Forks Colorado. Amazing!
So then off we go up Cinnamon Pass toward Lake City. Along the way we spied…
…tundra, flowers, snow and a pool. Then as we managed to traverse to the top of Cinnamon we spied apline tundra and stopped to read the sign that tells about it.
Then more tundra…
…and the top of Cinnamon.
That’s 12, 640 ft!
As we head down we get a beautiful view of American Basin.
As we drove down into Lake City the terrain changed completely. But before that happened we came to a place called Burrows Park which was renamed White Cross for a strain of white quartz that was found in its natural state forming a cross. The town had a population of around 300 people, with a post office, blacksmith, and other town necessities. What you see is what’s left…
A beautiful waterfall running down the mountain face and under the snow. There are no buildings left in White Cross.
Next we came upon a doe who had no worries in the world as she stood there eating grass until we honked our horn to get her to look up so that I could take her smiling picture.
Before we get to Lake City we pass by the lake (San Cristobal) that the community was named for.
This is tiny section of this huge lake. If you look real close you can see two kayaks just at the left edge of the photo. One is red and the other is yellow.
Next stop Lake City and the best calazone’s ever!!
We found a building here that reminded me much of the building I live in, the Benson Hotel. It’s apparent the architecture that was appreciated in the days these building were built.
After a nice lunch, we were off toward Engineer Pass and the second part of our day long Alpine Loop. But first he drove through some beautiful rock outcroppings.
After which Malcolm and I hiked down a short steep path to take a picture of this water fall that comes out of the side of a mountain.
I cant remember if this was before after the waterfall, but we also stopped to view this rushing river.
And up we go…
Soon we were seeing sights such as this. Water running under the snow and then looking up on the other side of the jeep we see this.
Mind boggling don’t you think. But wait… we haven’t seen anything yet. Everything so far as just been a teaser.
Next we come to White Death a mine that was re-named after its demise. Destroyed by Avalanche. This actually may have been before the last pics.. But it doesn’t matter, it’s all breathtaking and awe inspiring. If Mal were here or even Heather they’d be correcting me for accuracy and chastising me for messing some minute thing up. They should be tour guides.
Ummm… we start climbing, and if you look through Mal’s jeeps sun roof, you see we are just a spec on this mountain with snow towering over us. This is late June and this is still a lot of snow for this time of year.
This was my/our view.
This is just before we reached Engineer Pass’s summit. You think that’s it huh… nope.
Then we received a treat from Mother Earth. The top of the world. Hold on to your horses folks, she is breathtaking.
Way over there………. is Utah!
Heather and Mal at the lookout at Engineer Pass.
The lookout at Engineer pass. No words…
Then back down we go… What more snow?
After a long bumpy drive down Engineer we find ourselves back at Animas Forks and then past there the beautiful valley that marks home is near.
On the way home we ran across this little guy… Can you see the marmot?
How about now?
Cute little guy… most locals distaste these critters because they crawl into your cars if you leave parked to hike and chew your wiring. So there is a feud going on between marmots and man. I’d say from the marmot population that they are winning.
With that we say this was one fabulous day. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
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