We left the condo at Dillon at around 9am, and headed west towards Grand Junction. There were now only four in our group, myself, Val, Tim and Eric, the four who would be doing all of the peaks. We made a couple of stops, for fuel and to look at a pretty waterfall by the roadside. The main road, I-70, is spectacular, and at one point winds through a narrow gorge, where the river, railroad, and four lanes of traffic all vie for space, until it gets so narrow that the westbound lanes are built over the top of the eastbound lanes. There is also a cycle track that would be a fantastic ride, almost all downhill from the pass at Vail Summit.
At Glenwood Springs we headed south, and then turned off the main road to a place called Marble, where marble is quarried and shipped all over the country. We had lunch at a fantastic BBQ place called Woody’s, and then headed on up into the mountains.
I had expressed an interest in seeing an abandoned town in the mountains, and for four miles we battled up the roughest track I have ever seen in my life. Nobody else seemed at all surprised by the road conditions, and when I asked, I was told that most mountain tracks are like this.
Eventually we arrived at Crystal Mill, which was such a surprise, as it seems to be in the middle of absolutely nowhere! It is very dilapidated, and a sign explained that the historical society was doing its best to keep it in reasonable shape, but that each year the tough, harsh winters would take their toll.
After looking at the mill, and clambering around taking photos, we continued up the track, and I was surprised to see a sign suggesting that we drive slowly through town! We came up over the top of a rise, and entered the town of Crystal. It used to be an old mining town, but had long since been abandoned except by a hardy few that return each summer and maintain the buildings. There was a small gift shop, and a few cabins that could be rented. It would certainly be an out-of-the-way holiday destination! Quite amazing to find there so high in the mountains.
It was almost dark by the time we arrived at Ouray, and we headed out of town to set up camp. Once organised we went back to town and we had a couple of beers with dinner at O’Briens pub, where we were joined by Eric’s wife Jackie, sons Brian and Dylan, Loren and his sister Lisa, and Bob and Patrick. It was going to be a busy day on the mountain the next day!
Afterwards we headed out of town to our mountain campsite, and were all early to bed, ready for an early start.