Sarah and I were pretty worn out from climbing 4 out of the previous 5 days. Hagen and Claudia had plenty energy for more climbing, but they were good sports and entertained our idea to take a day off for a hike. We didn't have any guidebooks with us, so we opted for Mt. Ouray. Sarah and I had planned to ski this peak earlier in the spring (we were denied by snowblindness incurred on Horseshoe Mountain), so we had the route nearly memorized. We started at the Gray's Creek Trailhead and did Roach's tour of the Devil's Armchair.
Claudia balancing her way across one of numerous creek crossings
Initially, the trail was really easy to follow. It passed through some gorgeous groves of aspen trees. At one point, however, we lost the trail at a key creek crossing. After nearly half an hour of wandering around on dozens of cattle paths (and stepping in cow pies, ew), we finally happened upon the correct trail.
The lush drainage was overflowing with wildflowers.
As we neared the Devil's Armchair, we left the drainage of Gray's Creek and bushwhacked through a brilliant stand of bristlecone pines, which happen to be the oldest single living organism known.
Mt. Ouray watching over the bristlecone pines
We started our tour of the Devil's Armchair by first gaining this point on the ridge.
looking north toward the Sawatch
looking south toward the Sangres, the smoke from the Las Conchas fire had followed us a long way from home
Nina and Gretta posing on the left arm of the Devil's Armchair
Hagen and Claudia were really impatient and wouldn't wait for us, so they went on ahead. That's not true.
Nina decided that she preferred hiking with the Germans more than with us.
Gretta patiently waiting at a difficult section to make sure that everyone makes it up safely
With just 50-ft to go, Hagen knocked Claudia to the ground so that he could be the first to summit.
taking in the views
How many colors can Mother Nature drop at the side of the trail?
We descended the south side of the Devil's Armchair. Before we made it back to Gray's Creek, the rain caught up to us. Sarah and I didn't have any rain gear with us (it was still full of mildew from the Cascades when we were evacuated), so we hurried down the talus and sought refuge under some trees. The return to the trailhead was wet and uneventful. Back at the car, we received word that the evacuation had been lifted. We grabbed some beers at the San Luis Brewery in Alamosa and headed home.