Coast to Coast Adventure, days 54-61

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

We grudgingly left Moab, that little oasis that draws us back year after year, and started on the road for Colorado again. I wanted a little taste of the San Juans without having to drive too far south, so we settled first for a couple days into Ouray. Ouray bills itself as the Switzerland of the US, I guess since it’s in a lovey mountain valley and everything is super expensive? Anyway it is a cute town, and the cool thing is that it is literally tucked right into nature. There are miles of trails starting right from Main Street that go to waterfalls, creeks, up the mountains, and all around the town. It’s pretty cool how integrated it is into its surroundings. We hiked some of the perimeter trail, and there we great views of the mountains and valley. We had an awesome vrbo right on the river, and the sound of it rushing constantly was intoxicating.

We elected to go further out from Ouray to Ridgeway to hike the Blue Lakes Trail. This is a hard trail, 8.5 miles round trip just to the bottom lake, and it was steep and difficult going the first 1.5 miles. Really steep switchbacks that kill your knees and quads coming back down. Eventually we were rewarded when we got up to a waterfall and then the trees parted to reveal a gorgeous turquoise lake set in the basin of Mount Sneffels. I will never ever get over or stop loving alpine lakes. They are like magical little Narnias. We chilled out by the lake for awhile, it was too cold to swim, and then hiked back out. It was already starting to get dark, so we didn’t hike the upper lakes, but we definitely will need to if we get back here again.

From here we were on our way to Crested Butte, but first with a stop in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. My brother told me this was a must see stop, and he was right. It is such a rugged canyon. We hiked a bunch of the short rim trails, and the views were amazing. I can’t help myself for climbing and scrambling on the rocky cliff edge, luckily I didn’t plunge into the canyon and die.

We were taken aback just driving into Crested Butte. It is an absolute charmer. Elk (Main Street) is a string of beautiful colorful old buildings that house amazing shops and restaurants. We were a block off the main drag, in an adorable little cabin we got through vrbo. The town sits in a scenic valley, surrounded by mountains on all sides. We loved waking around the town with our dogs. I wish we could live here!!!

Our first hike was the absolute best wildflowers we have seen on this trip. Even the drive to the hike, was just fields and fields of flowers. It was an easy hike up through Washington Gulch to a view point that gives you 360 degree views. My legs were still spent from our tough hike to Blue Lakes, so I was grateful for the gently graded switchbacks that offered stunning views in every direction.

The next day we did what has become my very favorite hike. Scarp Ridge Trail to 421, which is above Irwin Lake about 3 minutes west of town. This is a fairly strenuous hike up to a 12,500 ridge-line. It is hard to fully describe how beautiful it was. It was a place that stunned me to silence and brought tears to my eyes. There are mountains everywhere you look. We had perfect clouds dotting the sky, making the whole thing look like a canyon. It was just a dream.

We are going to the Tetons today, our last stop before going to our new home in Oregon. I wish I could do this full time; I am going to miss this life so much.

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