Thursday, September 3, 2015

2001 "Gathering of Xterras" in Colorado

During Labor Day week in 2001, about fifty owners of Nissan Xterras from all over the country met in Ouray, Colorado, for GOX II, the second annual Gathering of Xterras. Each day found groups meeting in the morning and driving various 4WD roads in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.

In the photos below we attain the top of Yankee Boy Basin Road. Gold and silver were discovered here in 1875. The silver crash closed many of the mines but the town limped on until 1930 when the post office closed, though some of the structures were still occupied into the 1940s.

You can trace part of the road on the mountainside across the valley.

One of the views from up high in the Rockies.

 Next the the group heads up to Imogene Pass (pronounced EYE-moe-gene.)

Below a group of about 20 pause near the summit of Imogene Pass at an overlook. Evenings were reserved for various social events in Ouray. All participants belong to the Xterra Owners Club, a free organization of about 3000 Xterra owners.

The views of the San Juan Mountains from Imogene Pass, elevation 13,114 are spectacular! It is  the second highest pass in the country and was built in 1880 to access Ouray from the Tomboy Mine. It was named for Imogene Richardson, the wife of one the owners of Camp Bird Mine. Would you believe that electric wires carrying the first commercial transmission of alternating current electricity were strung across this pass in the 1890s!

On our way to the ghost town of Tomboy...

The group tours Tomboy.

Driving through the Rio Grande River! I never imagined doing that. This is the Bear Town Trail, just beyond its intersection with the Stony Pass Trail. It was only a foot or so deep at its deepest point. Just before this crossing, we had to drive through Pole Creek which was deeper and a lot trickier due to some large boulders in the way. According to guide books, Pole Creek is really a problem in spring during runoff periods, and is often impassable.

Down in the valley is the picturesque ghost town of Animas Forks. You can reach it by a passenger-car road from Silverton, Colorado, or as we did, as part of the magnificent Alpine Loop which runs about 70 miles from Ouray to Lake City via Engineer Pass and then back to Ouray via Cinnamon Pass, California Pass, Hurricane Pass, and Corkscrew Pass. This ghost town has perhaps the largest number of standing structures from the mining days. This photo is taken from above the town on Cinnamon Pass Road, and the road heading up from behind the town leads to California Pass.

Animas Forks was originally called La Plata City and at its peak boasted 1500 residents and for a while billed itself as the largest city in the world at an elevation of 11,584 feet.

This is the Walsh House in Animas Forks.

This photo is taken from the Imogene Pass Road (the 2nd highest pass in Colorado at 13,114 feet) as it descends into Telluride, Colorado, and across the valley you see what is often considered one of the toughest 4 wheel drive roads in Colorado, the Black Bear Pass Road. It is the only road which is one-way for part of its length, due to the 11 or so very tight, off camber, loose talus rock switchbacks, which require numerous back-ups to negotiate, and which have claimed numerous deaths over the years. No, we did not attempt that road!

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