On Sunday, September 7th, Leesa and I were still camping in Ouray at the Amphitheater Campground. We loved it there. It's a great spot, high on the hill above the town. Private, yet convenient to town. A perfect combination.
We had spent the previous 2 days "lake bagging" high alpine lakes. On this day, we decided to climb a nearby mountain, "Twin Peaks". An afternoon shower was forecast. We hoped to be up and down the 6 mile hike before the rain arrived.
The morning weather showed no sign of rain, and we started out. There is an "old" trail and a new trail to the summit. Access to the new trail is via South Pinecrest Drive for which a high clearance vehicle is needed for the last portion. We walked on the road until we reached the new trail (Oak Creek Trail 207).
|Start of the new trail off of S. Pinecrest Drive|
The new trail climbs at a moderate grade before reaching a trail split. We went right at the split to begin the Twin Peaks Trail. At this point the trail make its way to a location where it crosses Oak Creek. Once across the creek, the trail heads N-NE to begin a traverse up the ridge to the base of the steep cliffs that stand below Sister Peak. At 0.9 miles on the Twin Peaks trail we reached the junction with the old trail. Silvershield Trail 199 also connects at this location. Continuing on the Twin Peaks trail, we passed through several pretty aspen fields.
We crossed paths with a woman who just the day before had done the the 17 mile Imogene Run from Ouray to Telluride. She had completed the race in less than 4 hours! We couldn't believe she was out doing this hike the next day. She told us she was training for a marathon.
As we neared the base of the cliffs below Sister Peak, we passed the sealed up Speedwell Mine. I'm always amazed when I see mines in hard to get to places and wonder what it was like opening a mine in these areas over 125 years ago.
|Sealed entrance to Speedwell Mine|
|Marker at the sealed mine|
|Perhaps the remains of an old mine building higher on the mountain|
As we reached Sister Peak, we were greeted with a great view of Ouray down below to the east. To the west, we were greeted by a storm coming in. We only had 10 minutes of hiking left to reach Twin Peaks and decided to go for it. I went on ahead of Leesa. She wasn't sure she was going to reach the top.
|Sister Peak and Ouray down below|
|Looking up to Twin Peaks from Sister Peak|
Sprinkles of rain came down as I approached the final scramble to the summit rock outcrop. This was followed by a loud clap of thunder. I reached the top and scanned the sky to the west. The storm was now on top of us. Leesa reached the top also and just as she did, the rain let loose. It was mixed with hail.
|The view to the west|
We quickly high-tailed it off the summit and put our rain coats on. In the short 10 minutes it took to get back to Sister Peak, we got soaked. The rain came and went quickly. The thunder continued and as the storm passed over Ouray and on to the mountains to the east, the sound of the thunder echoed back to us. Very cool.
|Rain already moving past us to the east|
|Leesa, still wet, heading down|
|More aspens along the way|
|Starting down the old trail|
We also found the old trail to be more interesting. There is also a spectacular view of Ouray from down near the bottom of the trail.
As we neared the bottom, blue skis returned. We reached the bottom, still wet, but we dried off quickly in the sun.
|Down low on the old trail|
|Ouray from the old trail|
Hike Distance: 5.7 miles
Hike Time: 5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 3400'