Ophir Hill Climb

The annual Ophir Hill Climb took place this past Sunday morning at 10am on a beautiful fall day which felt more like summer and typically bodes well for those who ride their bikes.   The race begins in Old Ophir in front of the town hall and proceeds up to the top of Ophir Pass and back down to the finish line. The race is open to mountain bikers, runners, and of course dogs. Traditionally, when the weather is bad or there is snow on the course, the advantage goes to the runners; however, when there's a dry course, bikers tend to have the advantage. In addition to a dry course this year, much of the dirt road has been graded by the National Forest Service who have been doing a lot of…

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Below is a photo taken in macro mode of an Osha plant in Waterfall Canyon near Ophir, Colorado which has flowered recently.   It seems we're pretty much in the peak season with respect to mountain wild flowers in the high country. The roots of the Osha plant are often harvested for medicinal purposes; in particular treating upper respiratory cold and flu symptoms. Osha is the term used for "bear root" by the Ute's who apparently witnessed bears seeking out and consuming Osha root after hibernation or when sick or wounded. Cow parsnip flower looks very similar to that of Osha, but normally has much broader leaves.  

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“Brute Force” Photography

There might be an actual official name for it, but it's what I refer to simply having a decent compact point in shoot camera with you (which can easily fit in your pocket) at all times. Having a camera always with you can lend itself to being in the right place at the right time for either a natural event (i.e. sunset, rainbow, great lighting, etc.) or some other human / group activity which converges at once. Below are a series of photos take simply because I stopped my car on the way out of Ophir (on the Way to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival) and took a few shots of the mountainside during the sunset hours. I guess I'm going to have to figure out the precise names of the slide path picture…

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Beaver Ponds in Ophir

Here's a shot of the beaver ponds just to the Ophir Pass side of "east ophir" taken a few days ago.   You can see East Ophir in the background. There is actually a National Forest Service remediation site very near this area.  There is a relatively large pile of mine tailings located sufficiently close to the South Fork river.  So, they are going to condense the tailings material into a large pile and "ecapsulate" the pile with material and vegetation ... while also engineering proper drainage.  

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Summer In Ophir

Is often referred to as being two months surrounded by winter; however, we've finally received a solid two weeks of warm sunny weather. I've programmed in both Telluride and Ophir into my iTouch's weather app. and have noticed what I've known all along. Telluride's temperatures are on average about 6 degrees warmer than Ophir. Below is a shot taken in the center of "Old Ophir" (west Ophir) looking to the north with Spring Gulch in the background.    

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Ophir Pass

According to the San Miguel County website, Ophir Pass is currently closed (as well as Imogene Pass and Black Bear Pass). I did see a jeep tour ride come down the pass yesterday, but they very well could've drove a ways up and turned around.  Apparently, the hold up is due to downed trees vs. an overabundance of snowfall.  Here is a photo I took of the pass yesterday.  There is still plenty of snow visible at the higher elevations.  I'm sure there's a fairly tall shaved wall of snow at the summit.  

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Photo Of Sunshine Mountain During Sunset

  Sunshine Mountain can be seen in the background at the bottom right of the photo -- taken during a recent sunset from a spot in old Ophir. It is visible to the west from many locations in the Ophir. Last summer I hiked almost to the treeline of Sunshine, which has great views of Ophir looking back to the east. There's an old overgrown switchback entrance off of the galloping goose trail which fizzles out into a single track eventually ... which doesn't last very long and you bushwack and follow animal trails from there on out. The general idea is to stay near the ridgeline without drifting to far away, but it's actually a fairly wide ridgeline "strip" up to treeline ... so you can meander around a bit. There's some…

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Hiking in Ophir: Some Comparisons With Telluride

Hiking in Ophir, Colorado is similar to that of Telluride, but there are some differences. In particular, the northern side of the ophir valley has a much more sustained steep pitch from top to bottom. With the exception of Stroudsberg basin (directly to the west of Spring Gulch) and near the Carbonero mine, most of the terrain on the north side of ophir goes straight up from the valley floor without much in the way of benches. On the other hand, in Telluride, there is a distinct bench on the northern side of town which can be found in most areas above the cliffband visible from town. There are also larger, more expansive basins up at higher elevations on the northern side of the Telluride valley floor. So, if you're hiking on Ophir's…

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Ophir Avalanche Video

I've found imovie on my macbook to be a very easy way to upload short video clips taken from my point & shoot (Canon Powershot) to youtube. Below is a 35 second video clip of an avalanche triggered by explosives dropped from a helicopter above Ophir, Colorado on January 8, 2008: I believe they were able to make two slides run on a Tuesday -- when the weather finally broke -- after having the road into Ophir closed since the previous Saturday night when a natural release down the St. Louis slide path blocked the road.  

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New Waterfall Canyon Hike

... at least it's new to me! After running into Larry R. and Brian M. a couple weeks ago in Waterfall Canyon, we were looking at some elk way up high in the sunshine above tree line on the eastern ridgeline of the mouth of Watefall canyon. I asked about whether or not there was a trail to get up there, and they said yes & in fact was one of the best hikes around Ophir. I didn't get exact directions, but was told the trail head is on the east side of the Opus loop and actually dead ends; requiring one to bushwhack it along the ridgeline. So, I first started out by hiking to the east Ophir bridge and took an immediate left ... I hiked about a 1/10 of a…

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