Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Black Bear Pass

It's finally the time of year when all of the awesome Jeep trails are open! Black Bear Pass opened July 17, but we had to wait until July 21, 2008, to go for it on our day off. We had spent the morning in Montrose at Garrett's orthodontist and bought groceries at Wal-Mart. We decided to go home over Black Bear Pass by driving through Ouray to the trailhead on Red Mountain Pass.

My first photo has an arrow pointing to Ingram Falls as seen from Telluride. This is where the famous Black Bear Pass switchbacks begin and farther down in this blog entry there are photos of me standing in the falls. I have a great view of Ajax Peak and Ingram Falls from my office window and many times when I am bored I will use my binoculars and watch people drive through the falls and on down to the next switchback.

This photo was taken from Tomboy Road going up Imogene Pass to show the Black Bear Pass switchbacks. The major switchbacks are actually above Bridal Veil Falls and are in the portion of the pass that is to be driven one-way only.

The Black Bear Pass trailhead is near the Red Mountain Pass summit on highway 550 and has a very well-marked sign.

The San Juan County part of the pass has long stretches of very easy road as seen in the next three photos.

One of the Red Mountains.

Steadily climbing as the road starts to get rougher.

A portion of road where the snow had to be plowed.

My 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon at the summit of Black Bear Pass!!

The kids at the summit sign, 12,840 feet in elevation. Mt. Sneffels is above Savanna's hand and to the right.

I believe I was facing east or southeast here.

Starting down on the San Miguel County side of the pass.

Starting down the steps. This is where the trail gets fun, or terrifying depending on the person.

The Ajax Peak trailhead is at the side of the steps well-marked with a cairn.

Trico Peak, elevation 13,301 feet, rising above our Jeep and the wildflowers here on the side road we took to view Ingram Lake. Trico gets its name from his tri-county location, the point where Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel Counties meet.

I would say that the wildflowers are at their peak right now!

I loved this cluster of Columbines seen here overlooking Ingram Lake.

A very turquoise-looking Ingram Lake.

I got out of the Jeep and walked the steps, not because I was scared, but so I could take a lot of detailed photos. If you want to see many more photos of the road and various views of Black Bear Pass, click HERE.

The steps definitely feel like steps when you are walking down them.

A nice view of Telluride; almost home with our groceries. Just a few switchbacks coming up to deal with!

Jay opted for the more difficult part of the trail here.

I should probably mention we had the whole pass to ourselves. I wasn't in any danger of being run over or rushed.

Approaching the first tight switchback.

Ingram Falls and the Black Bear Mill.

Remember my first photo up there of the pink arrow? That's where I'm standing now to take this!!

Here I am standing in Ingram Falls and yes, it is cold. It's melted snow!

Look closely here and you will see the next two levels of the road below us.

Here is one of the most wicked switchbacks ever. I should note that Jay took this switchback a little tighter than necessary for the sake of a photo. You will see what I mean in the next photo.

Jay was really enjoying the articulation that the sway bar disconnect allows. (I speak Jeep).

Another switchback view.

After finishing the famous switchbacks, Bridal Veil Falls comes into view straight ahead. It's all easy from here!

Ingram Falls video taken while my feet were getting numb in the cold water.


Lois said...

I think these are some of the most interesting pictures you have posted so far--I really enjoyed them!

PhXphil said...

Awesome pics ... especially the Columbines! Even though it has been years since I was in my Jeep (81 CJ5) on some trails, I can tell the pics do not do justice to those trails!

Lisa Wilson said...

Very true!! Even though I got out of the car and took close-ups of the road and switchbacks, it doesn't really show how difficult the trail is.