In praise of place: Ouray and environs (Part 4)
… in which we take a short scenic side trip up the Clear Lake trail, an easy but spectacular jeep road off the Million Dollar Highway just N. of Silverton.
Designated as Co Rd 12 (which branches off from Co Rd 7, which intersects with Hwy 550 – aka the Million Dollar Highway), most of this drive could probably be accomplished in a high clearance 2WD vehicle — but I’m no expert in such matters, and you should definitely not rely on my advice.
I’ll never forget the time Anne and I started up Ophir Pass (from the Ophir side) and encountered a four door family sedan clattering towards us from above. I’d already been cursing the boulder field we’d navigated for the past 1/4 mile, and here we were in a 4WD Jeep Liberty. When we came abreast of this older couple, I was astonished to learn that they had not, in fact, started up the road from Ophir and finally, wisely, decided to turn around — but that they had in fact driven their built-for-the-highway late model auto all the way over the pass from the Silverton side.
(They were on their way to Telluride, and had seen the Ophir Pass road on a map — thought it might be a short cut. Amazing.)
We never did discover whether they made it the rest of the way across the boulder field and into Ophir (much less points beyond) — our destination lay back in Ouray on the other side of the 11,000 ft. pass.
But I’ll wager their undercarriage was never the same again. Even shorter odds on them trying out another San Juan short cut on a whim.
These photos are from 2006, taken with the Mark I Canon 5D — a fine camera that I traded in for a 5D II a couple of years ago. Kind of wish I’d kept the old 5D as a backup… but hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?