| Handies w/ mother nature‘s fireworks
Having lost out to mother nature last year on our early September attempt for Handies (Cinnamon Pass having 6-8 inches of fresh snow by 7 am) , we decided to make a re-attempt earlier in the year. We arrived in Ouray Sunday night and settled in to our hotel, going to sleep at an early enough hour so the 4am alarm clock would not be thrown against the wall . Next morning, we set out around 4:40 headed over to American Basin. There was already about a half dozen truck/trailers parked at the entrance to Engineer Pass, so I decided to go down 550 to Silverton and then back up to Cinnamon. Got to the American Basin trailhead around 6:35, about 25 minutes later after running back to the truck cuz I kept forgetting stuff, our trek had begun!
There were clouds from the beginning, and slight drizzle off and on, but it never got serious. We kept a pretty good pace. The last few hundred feet to the summit is considerably steeper than the majority of the trail, but with no exposure. We hit the summit at 9:00. Met up with a father/daughter from Costa Rica (I thought our trip from Castle Rock was long) who were gracious enough to take our picture.
The top was quite windy, so we sat in a somewhat sheltered area and munched on some food, rehydrated, enjoyed the wonderful views, and then started our hike down at 9:25.
On the way down, I took more time and stopped to enjoy the scenery more and take some pictures. Also, we passed a fellow 14ers.com member, guitarczar, and some of his band mates and a few friends they were taking on their first 14er - whats up guys!!???
As you can see, the flowers were incredible, I couldn't stop taking pictures of them. The entire San Juan range was in bloom, but this basin was spectacular. I have never seen so much green in these mountains. The very wet season has done will for the landscape. After taking our time to stop along the way, we got back to the truck at 11:15.
Now, I want to get up onto my soap box here for a little bit. We all love to enjoy the scenery, and are blessed to live in or have access to these wonderful mountains here in Colorado...so, why is it that some people just can't follow the simple guidelines like STAY ON THE TRAIL??? We passed this couple that were just content to wander around wherever they pleased as if they owned the place. I even tried to talk with them about staying on the trail, but they completely ignored me as if they didn't even understand me. It looked to me like a younger male trying to impress his girl. I dunno, I just don't get it. If any of you recognize this couple, maybe you can pass along the message to stay on the trails!
By the way, I know this question gets asked alot, by myself even. I took Engineer Pass back to Ouray and the timing was within a couple of minutes of going down the Silverton route. The difference is the Silverton route does not beat up your vehicle, or your tired body after a hike. Unless you specifically want a somewhat challenging 4wd trail ( it was kinda fun ), taking the Silverton route is the same amount of time. Also, when did Ouray become retired Texan vacation area central? I have never seen so many retired or vacationing Texans in their Jeeps or on there ATV's!!! The off-road traffic was unbelievable, even on a Monday. The Jeep rental shops must have been making a killing!
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