Photodump: hiking around Ouray

Specifically, we hiked the Albany Loop and Hendrick Spur, which is about 5 miles total, but with a few thousand feet going up and a few thousand coming down. Once again, we hit the area at a just perfect time; the weather was shirtsleeve-pleasant with just a few sprinkles, and all the aspens were turning colors.

From where the truck was parked next to Crystal Lake, looking towards the imaginatively named Red Mountain.

The obligatory "looking up at the trees" picture.

Yellow carpet.

View of Red Mountain from the Hendrick Spur.

View of the road from the top of the Hendrick Spur--it sure doesn't look as far as what it feels it should be after that hike up the side of the canyon.  It blows my mind that we were right at three or four mines... how the heck did those old timers get supplies up the side of that cliff without dropping it all down the side?

And a view from the road back up to where we were at the aforementioned mines.

The little river running through the valley is yellow-red, and doesn't have any aquatic life.  According to the signs alongside the road, that's natural for this area (Red Mountain is red because of how iron-rich the rock is, and it affects everything else) and not because of any mine runoff--though they do mention the mines didn't help anything.  I wouldn't want to drink it, at least.

Red mountain, again, and with red aspens to go with it.

An old building from the Ironton ghost town site, which is south of where we hiked but still north of Red Mountain Pass.  Apparently in the late 1800's until the silver bust, Ironton had 300 buildings.

And that is the Yankee Girl mine, which was the richest silver mine in the area.  According to the helpful roadside signs, the ore from this mine was so rich that they could skip the condensing stage and go straight to the smelter.

All told, in just this area between Ouray and Silverton, there were somewhere around 100 mines, and about 3000 people making a living, mostly going after silver.  Adjusted for inflation, billions of dollars worth of silver came out of the ground here.  But when the US demonetized silver, it pretty much killed the silver mines.  Some of the mines had other metals and lived on, but the boom times were definitely over.

Oh, and noodling around on Wikipedia I saw that Ouray was the area that Ayn Rand modeled Galt's Gulch on.  Ya learn something new every day.

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