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Looking for John Wayne
Friday was the day the Fastshots and Stew were rolling in. The first light view from camp was looking good.
We walked and lingered around the campground. It looked like "The Boys", two small bucks in "felt" that the Lady visited with every morning, were taking the day off. I asked the Lady if she’d like a special breakfast. We pulled out red potatoes, red onion, red bell pepper, summer squash, and zucchini from the fridge. I sautéed these in our large skillet. Three eggs were scrambled and ready to be added. The Lady asked, “This is looking delicious! How ‘bout some avocado on top? And, let’s put the table cloth on the table and make this a really special breakfast!”
“What!” I exclaimed. “We have a tablecloth in the camper?”
“Sure do. Its cloth and pretty nice.”
“And where did the tablecloth come from?” I asked.
“It came with that nice picnic kit we got about 28 years ago. Our plates and service ware that we use came with that kit, remember? I don’t know if we’ve ever used the tablecloth.”
“Well, pull it out and get it on the table! We’re gonna do this right!”
Breakfast was great, even if the chef says so hisownself.
We got ready to explore the trails out from the campground. Across from our site was an unlabeled trail that connected to the Cascade Falls Trail.
We soon discovered a new sign for what was called The Ouray Perimeter Trail. It circled Ouray and did it with spectacular style.
I was surprised this was a real mountain trail, with steep sections, talus slopes, and some exposure. We had a great view down at the Ouray Hot Springs pool.
We decided to only do this section of the trail and end our walk at the Visitors Center. Hiking the trail would be a fun adventure for us to do with the Fastshots and Stew. We walked around Ouray, we hadn’t really been in town yet. I visited the museum, in the old three story hospital building, as the Lady wandered outside. I found her up by the site of Chief Ouray’s house, past the old catholic church.
It had been a pleasant morning, just poking about and taking it easy, a change of pace for us. A phone call from the Fastshots said they had just entered Ouray. “Where should we park?”
“We’re up by the Hotel on Main Street. There’s parking on 5th Avenue. Make a left on 5th.”
There were waves from my brother’s new F-150 eco-boost pickup. Our buddy Stew was right behind with his All Terrain Camper on his new Toyota.
The “Tundra Mosquito II” has replaced the old “Blue Goose” that was red.
The adventure was about to begin.
“Fill your hand you son of a bitch!” my brother Fastshot said while driving. He was wound up pretty good, excited as he quoted one of his favorite movie lines. “And then Rooster took the reins in his teeth!”
We were looking for John Wayne. We were looking for the country where the climatic showdown in True Grit was filmed. Fastshot is into cowboy shoots, yup, with real guns and live ammo. He’s won a few. He’s also into Colorado, his adopted state, and western films and the Duke fall right into line.
We had all piled into Fastshot’s truck after lunch at the Ouray Brewery. He was taking us up Owl Creek Pass Road. Mrs. Fastshot, the Lady, and Stew were in the back seat. I was supposed to navigate. He said that was needed. After a career in aviation, Fastshot’s hearing ain’t what it used to be. Conversation from the back directed his way might as well have gone out the window. And, when he doesn’t hear remarks coming his way, it doesn’t interrupt his story.
“Now did you see that new version of ‘Grit’?”
My answer went out the window too.
“Who was that new guy who………………….”
“Jeff Bridges,” I shouted. “He played Rooster.”
“Yeah, that’s him. What’d think of him in the film? I thought he was just plumb awful, piss poor. Now what’d you think?”
“The Lady and I really liked the movie and we enjoyed Bridges’ performance. It was a fun movie.”
He glanced over from the cockpit. “Well it was that young girl that stole the show. She really did. Well come to think about it Kim Darby did the same thing in the first movie.” He smiled as he drove. I knew moving through this country, the rocks, cliffs, and spires overhead all draped with seemingly endless aspen groves at their feet with the occasional meadow opening, I knew he was seeing that famous footage unfold………………………………………..He was happy. This could hardly be better.
The backseat crew got my attention. “Hey Fastshot, pull over here,” I said.
“Pull over at that wide spot here. We can get a look around.”
The backseat piled out after Stew got released from the shoulder harness that was strangling him, tightening up with every bump in the road. The women folk headed out into the woods for a needed personal break.
This was incredible country.
There was room for Stew at our private campsite so he joined us. Our plans for the next day did not include driving. We would hike the perimeter trail after an early downtown Ouray breakfast. But where to eat? We checked out the local options with the Lady scouring one side of Main Street and Stew and I took the other. On one corner we discovered a young girl with a box on her head.
We dutifully did as the instructions said. We did inquire if there was a video camera on us. Were we going to be up on YouTube as gullible tourists in Ouray? Mom was a few steps away with a big grin on her face, watching over as moms should. “She came up with this idea on her own. She thought it would be fun!” We asked Mom where we should have breakfast. Her recommendation was good.
Back up at the overlook at the campground, we got caught up with Stew’s adventures and life as we watched Ouray get dark.
Stew elected to take the next day off. He was a bit under the weather. Stew is known to have some influence on the weather so we were a bit curious if he was working something up. “Stew brings the rain,” is a conversation we have heard around camps.
The Lady & I were meeting the Fastshots at 7 am at the bakery the Mom recommended. We headed down one of the direct trails to Ouray. We passed this custom home.
It was very nice, used earth tone colors, and fit the mountain side well. Seeing it brought up many thoughts – the architectural, engineering, and building plans were probably more than our house cost us – how much did those custom curved roof beams cost? – and how did the owner feel about the guy two houses down that painted his house lime green?
Ouray is in a canyon. It takes awhile for morning light to reach Main Street.
The Perimeter Trail access points are not well signed. We asked the women in the Bakery how to access the trail to the west. After much bantering back and forth among themselves, one woman grabbed a copy of the “Visit Ouray” magazine, gave it to us, and said she saw a map inside. We were off!
First off, we took a detour up to a west side overlook of Ouray.
The Perimeter Trail (heading south) soon enters the Box Canyon area. There is a climb up to the tunnel that takes you to the bridge across the deep slot.
The Trail crosses the Camp Bird road, passes all the interesting plumbing put in for the Ouray Ice Climbing Park, and then continues up the Uncompahgre Canyon. There is a new hiking bridge crossing the river, but ever curious the Lady ventured further up to check out the impoundment for the old hydroelectric project. Was Tesla involved with this one, as he was with the one near Ophir?
The Trail took us around past the Baby Bath Tubs and back past camp. We checked on Stew and finalized plans for dinner. We’d have a fun dinner at camp – much better than restaurant dining – and the Fastshots would experience a bit of the pop up camper world. Stew would loan out the use of his bbq grill to Fastshot, we would sauté up some fresh vegetables, and the Lady would pull out that nice tablecloth.
The clouds were seriously building as we left Stew. We hiked past Cascade Falls. The storm edge reached us as were crossed the exposed section previously pictured. Rain started. We reached the Visitors Center just as the storm unleashed its torrent. We were only a couple of blocks from the Fastshots motel room. Even with our rain gear, we stayed put. Finally we made a break for it and at a fast clip we made for our next shelter. We settled in and the Fastshots let us make use of their shower. It was nice to warm up after getting drenched. On cue, the storm abated enough for us to stop at the Mom & Pop grocery store – a lot of fun! – and we headed up to dinner. “Stew brings the rain,” some may say but he also brings an awning! It did rain a bit more. Fastshot and Stew tended to the steaks and salmon on the grill under the awning. The two ladies took their game of scrabble out to the table as the rain stopped, and I cooked up the veggies in our camper.
It was a great evening. It was so nice of the Fastshots to come over to see his crazy younger brother and wife and their itinerant small pop up camper mode of adventure. Too bad the rain didn’t let enough for us to share the great view from the overlook.
We said our goodbyes; the Fastshots were heading home early in the morning. The Lady & I sat down with Stew, in the rain, under his awning now with a spare Shakespeare Festival banner wrapped around it to keep the wind driven rain out. Stew is prepared.
We made plans. Another adventure was about to begin.
Our initial plans were to position ourselves up near Yankee Boy Basin on Sunday for a quick summit bid of Sneffels early Monday morning. The weather said we’d be nuts. Sneffels would have to wait for another time. We decided to head over to the Lake City area and position ourselves up the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River for hitting the summit of three 14ers, Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine, if the weather broke.
Because of the rain, and it did rain, we thought it most prudent to take pavement over to Lake City. We pulled into Lake City in the afternoon during a nice break in the storm. We gassed up at the old gas pump in front of the general store. Stew filled his tank up first. The hose on the other side was out of order. I waited my turn.
“Old pump, eh?” was Stew’s comment.
“No ‘stick it in’ slot. Did you take your card inside?” I asked.
“No,” Stew answered, “The pump let me go ahead and fill just by turning it on.”
I went inside.
The Lady has a remarkable way about her. She easily gets people into conversation and she usually quickly and easily dispenses with the little things. She was talking with the young woman behind the counter as she paid for some items. The Lady was saying this as I walked up. “You know in this day and age you could ask him to marry you.”
The young woman shook her head, “No, I won’t do that. I’m old fashion. He’ll have to ask.”
Stew came in and paid for his gas. I was next and asked, “Do you want my card before I fill?”
“No,” she said, “I trust you. This is Lake City. I’ve got your license number.”
I liked this young woman.
As we drove away I asked the Lady what the conversation was about. "Girl talk,"was all she said.
We headed up Cinnamon Pass Road in the rain. The trailhead area had a few folks with tents set back in the trees. We found a nice pull out to set up in about a half mile up.
The rain broke off enough for us to sit out at times. Stew had his awning ready.
It rained on and off most the night. We were surprised to see some blue sky in the morning. I headed up the road as the Lady fussed in the camper and got coffee going.
When I returned Stew was up surveying his kingdom.
He had already talked with the Lady. “She wants to go for it,” he said. “I don’t think the weather’s going to
hold and this is a late start.”
“She does have energy.” I said. “I don’t think the weather’s going to cooperate either. What mountain does she want to do?”
“She didn’t say. I don’t think it matters. A woman that likes to bag 14ers; I really like her,” Stew said.
I replied, “We’ll do some hiking today as the weather holds, look around, check out the routes.”
We headed up Silver Creek, the route to Redcloud. We stopped above treeline at the beginning of the high upper basin. Handies called to the Lady across the Lake Fork and up Grizzly Gulch. I figured it could be seriously raining in an hour.
We looked at the route ahead.
With the cold wind and the occasional raindrop, this was far enough.
As we hiked back down the trail at least the columbines and the pikas were about.
We returned to camp. It rained. We added the Shakespeare Festival banner to Stew’s awning. We had warm drinks. We told stories. A Ford truck with an All Terrain Camper stopped in front of our camp.
The passenger side window came down. I leaned in and was greeted with happy faces.
“We saw these All Terrain Campers!” the driver said.
“Yup, and with you this could be a convention. You must know Marty & Jeff (head guys at All Terrain)," I said.
“Only heard of them. We bought this used. We’re from Louisiana.”
The fellow joined us under Stew’s awning. His happy daughter smiled and waved at us from her car seat. Stew told him about the Wander the West website and that he was “Doug Stewart” and that I was “ski3pin.”
“I’m ‘Marshfly’ on there. What are you guys doing up here?”
“We’re going to bag some 14ers, if this rain ever stops,” the Lady answered.
“Weather forecast says only 20% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow and Wednesday.” Marshfly announced.
“YES!!!” I think the Lady started to dance also. Her hopeful smile was like the sun.
It was fun meeting up with Marshfly, although briefly in a downpour. Shortly after they left the rain stopped. We sat out and enjoyed it.
It was a wonderful evening. We turned in early, already geared up for an alpine start.
Part Four – the Adventure continues - Click Here