We picked up our jacked up Jeep Wrangler this morning.
It is brand new. It was first used yesterday. The owner says she buys new ones every year.
It was a real climb for Jennie and even me to get in. The windshield is kind of short and the dashboard is high so Jennie had a hard time seeing out. We didn’t bring anything that was comfortable enough for her to sit on so we used her headrest. It is not very big and with all the bouncing we did, she was rather sore by the end of the day.
I took a quick trip around town to get used to the manual transmission before we hit the tough roads.
Corkscrew Gulch heads east from near the top of Red Mountain Pass about 8 miles south of Ouray. We left the highway at around 10,000 feet and climbed to just over 12,000.
This road is rated a 3 or difficult in the 4wd brochure. Ophir Pass from yesterday was a 2. This one is a huge step up in difficulty. I would not even dream of taking the CRV here. We would have been stuck or bottomed out in the first few hundred yards. I don’t I think would want to ever try a 4 or 5 rated road.
I put the jeep in second gear of low range 4wd and up we went.
The road was not terribly rough here but it was really steep and with the stiff suspension you really feel every bump.
We got a few views of the mountains behind us.
Then we broke out of the tree lines into a huge bowl of red mountains.
Then we zigzag up to the top.
Of course we stopped at all the pullouts at the corners for pictures because you never know which one is going to be the best.
Jennie had a nice high vantage point.
Occasionally Jennie would climb down from her perch to check out the rocks and shapes in the snow.
The Jeep has a really tight turning radius but there was one corner that was so tight that I had to back up a bit to get around. It was also one of the steepest corners which made backing up on loose gravel a bit nerve racking. I didn’t stop to take a picture.
As we went higher you can see how the mountains in the background become visible. Lowest viewpoint.
Just below the top.
Looking down on the way we had come up.
The top is just around the corner.
We caught up to a group of rental Jeeps that had stopped to enjoy the view.
Jennie went off exploring.
There was a side road that seemed to go up higher. It was not on the map but we tried to see if had an even better view. Just around the first curve we came to this.
Those marks are not from us, although I was tempted.
Looking back down on Jennie’s pond.
Heading down the other side.
This is fun (for me at least).
We are heading down into the valley. The road that climbs higher, in the distance, is currently still snowed in and even if it was open it is off limits to rented Jeeps. I think it is a class 4.
There are old mines everywhere.
This one seemed to be actively dumping something ugly down the hill.
Once we got down to the dot on the map called Gladstone, there seemed to be recent activity and the road got wide and flat all the way down into Silverton, which we had stopped at on our way to Durango earlier in our stay,
The owner of the rental shop said we should take a drive up Cunningham Gulch which was just a few miles east of Silverton.
She said that it was a long narrow valley with lots of waterfalls. Unfortunately we had lost our sun and it turned rather grey. Later we even got a bit of rain and had to put the top up.
We stopped at the little parking lot you see below for lunch. I had seen the road up the hill and wondered if it was accessible. When I saw the national forest ranger head up in his white truck, I decided to follow.
We got to a spot where the road got even rougher. I walked up a ways to check it out.
I came to a spot where three hiking ladies were trying to figure out how to get a cross a deep stream. I offered to give them a ride to the top of the hill. It was a tough climb even for the Jeep through several switchbacks.
At the top we found two guys doing some amateur prospecting. They showed us some of the rocks they had found.
Once they left the ladies discovered that they were in the wrong place.
Here is a distorted panorama of our climb.
It turns out that they really wanted start their hike at that parking area you can see at the right, at the end of the road way back down in the valley. I gave them a ride back down. Heaven knows what would have happened if they had walked up.
We headed back out of the gulch.
We drove back to Silverton and the up the south side of the Red Mountain Pass. Back at the top we took another suggested drive / bounce in amongst some more abandoned mines.
The Jeep is good and muddy by now.
Once we were back on the highway we headed to Ouray to return the Jeep. We first had to take it to a car wash to clean all the mud off. There was a line up of all the rented Jeeps waiting to use the pressure washer.
While it was nice to have the Jeep to get to places that are otherwise inaccessible to us, I don’t see a Jeep in our future. The ride is just too rough for everyday use.
On the way in this morning we had seen a sign on the highway to watch out for a bicycle rally. As we went home we could see them all camped in the park beside the hot springs. That’s a big rally.
We are moving on tomorrow. I should have allocated more time for this area. It was a very busy week as we tried to cram everything in. There are still some things I would have liked to do. We also needed some days off. I guess we will just have to come back.