Wednesday, July 09, 2008

E Ticket hike in Ouray

I'd read there was a new hike in Ouray called the Perimeter trail which just opened this year, and it sounded like a hike we could manage, so we headed over there today. It was estimated as a three hour hike.

It started for us at some beautiful waterfalls, then went higher, and higher, and higher. Molly found a baby elk so after that she had to stay on the leash. At first the sounds of the town were quite loud, but then more and more distant. It went through pretty wooded areas and over streams, then onto bare rock. The trail was well marked so we weren't getting lost. But a lot of huff and puff.

When we got onto the open rock fields I was getting a little uncomfortable. Why would anyone want to climb Mount Everest? Wide open spaces with big drops are not my favorite places. I guess it's VERTIGO!

So far, so good, just a nice hike, right? But then--

There's a famous gorge in Ouray, hundreds of feet deep. A hot spring waterfall plunges down the gorge. It's the big attraction in the town.

Our trail took us way up at the top of the gorge. There's a BRIDGE across the gorge, made of iron MESH, so you can see all the way to the bottom. The bridge is very old, considered an engineering miracle.

We were sure Molly wouldn't be able to cross it, but really, Molly wasn't the problem. I tried first, got about ten steps across and felt weak and returned. There's mesh on both sides of the fence to waist height. There's a light breeze (read fierce wind)
Ever since the Northridge Earthquake I've had fear of heights. (more so than of earthquakes!)

I tried again, crouching across the bridge, got maybe eight steps and returned. Meanwhile tourists are just strolling back and forth like it's nothing! And I look like I'm practicing an army maneuver.

Jon crosses the bridge now, hands tight on the side mesh and sort of crouching. He makes it across. He tells me I can do it. Tourists are saying, "Just don't look down." Molly is getting anxious because she doesn't like separation of humans and he's on the other side. But I know she doesn't like walking over any kind of metal webbing-- most dogs don't. But we cross it, and get to the other side, where I kid you not there is a CAVE you have to walk through.

I hate the whole idea of CAVES! You have to crouch down and walk through this one. It's about 200 feet long. Other people are coming the reverse way and they think Molly's a wolf and squish themselves against the cave wall. There are no lights, just the light at the end of the cave where you emerge.

And then! it's a super skinny trail going down steeply with a cliff drop on one side, and a cable on the other that you're supposed to hold onto as you make your way down. And I'm walking with a dog on a leash which only adds to the instability.


This picture doesn't give you a clue of scariness because you can't see the bridge in its flimsy exposure.

Maybe I'll have to draw you a picture!


Namowal said...

Wow, that's scary. High places make me a bit nervous too. Maybe because the higher the path is, the more skimpy/scary it is.
The flimsy bridge and cave remind me of Spain's Camino Del Rey. (Skip the link if you don't like looking at high places on the computer.)

Linda said...

a MESH bridge??? Oh God.

Molly is getting anxious because she doesn't like separation of humans and he's on the other side.
This is so touching. It reminds me of our cat Mabel. She hardly ever "talked," but when Tom and I would argue, she would stomp in and look back and forth at both of us and meow loudly.

Your hike sounds very scary, but FUN!!! That bridge!!
I hope you had a big comforting Thanksgiving dinner on your return.

Sally said...

Namowal, I had to click off that-- way too scary to watch. Have you ever been there?

I managed to torment myself last night reliving the bridge and the tunnel-- also a friend came by last night and told us Peyton Place style stories of the mesa.

stray g said...

I don't know how you did the hike. I'm scared of heights, and a cave would make me claustrophobic at the very least. Once I stood in line with friends an hour and a half for a big roller coaster and then just couldn't even get on it.

Namowal said...

Part of me wants to visit Camino Del Rey, but I'd probably chicken out when I got there.