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DAY 17, JUNE 15, 1993 168.JPG (18378 bytes)

(CHRIS) We slept late--til 10--and had hot chocolate. Now Jon is whittling his walking stick and Matt keeps carving Christy's name everywhere while Sam takes his usual 4 hours to get cleaned up and changed. All Tumbleweeds are content. One more night of camping, then HOTEL!

After Sam lost Mr.DeBlase's kettle in Soap Creek, we ate a nice little Chef Boyardee52.JPG (25840 bytes) lunch, interrupted by our tent starting to blow away. Then we cleaned up the campsite, said tearful goodbyes to the beautiful Soap Creek Valley, and headed for Ouray. The drive down routes 50 and 550 was beautiful. As we listened to Enya, all oohed and ahhed at the spectacular Rockies. We drove through Ouray, a very pretty little town surrounded by mountains, and got a quick look at our hotel for tomorrow, Box Canyon Lodge. It looks awesome. There, Matt picked up his long letter from Christy. Suddenly, violins started57.JPG (19077 bytes) playing, and Matt read, smiling in ecstasy.

After Matt and Sam had a rock war across Box Canyon, we found a campsite on the river, the Gunnison. Matt, Jon, and I took a hike while Sam stayed at our private campsite. The trail was beautiful - I saw a deer. The Rockies, huge and snowy, surrounded us. We got off the trail eventually and saw a rocky creek that seemed to flow toward the Gunnison. As the territory got rougher and rougher, I urged that we head back, but they wanted to see where the creek hit the river. So we hiked along the rocks, crushing and throwing them along the way, as is our custom. (Some one suggested we rename ourselves the tumblerocks!). The joining of the creek and river was found. Real nifty, but we had a long way to go back, so all began looking for shortcuts. Maybe we could cross the river! Now that Matt and Jon had pushed me this far, I was ready to go nuts. I climbed up a rocky cliff to look for a way across the river. No dice, but soon the guys disappeared. After a nervous 10 minutes, I heard them yelling over the roar of the river. I climbed down and after a rock167.JPG (19713 bytes) throwing/damming experiment, we decided to scale the other side of the creek canyon to get back to the trail faster. We all almost fell on the very steep climb, but our guardian angels preserved us despite our stupidity. A11 escaped without damage except my bad knee hurt a bit.

Our social bugs, Jon and Matt, chatted with a couple who had camped near us on the trail back. They told us to take the old road up into the mountains because it was beautiful. Since we had 3 hours before dark, all 4 of us got in the van164.JPG (16878 bytes) and took the old dirt/gravel road straight up. This road was very curvy, had steep drop-offs on the side, had snowbanks, waterfall, old abandoned mines, and awesome views. We saw the Rockies between Ouray and Telluride the best way possible--just like people saw them 75 years ago. We had a snowball fight, explored an old mine (and found some silver flakes), and drove as far as any non 4x4 could. It was simply an incredible experience and all were impressed. After a spaghetti dinner back at camp, all were dead tired. So we said rosary and hit the hay, making plans in case of rain for we were about two feet from the river. But it did not rain and we slept well.

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