I had heard about Mount Ouray for a while, both from the thirteeners book and from Mike H. It is a high thirteener at 13,971 feet, seemed interesting, and since I spent Labor Day weekend in Salida, it was close at hand.
The trailhead is on Marshall Pass Road, which is off of US 285. It's pretty darn scenic, even if it is somewhat long. And it's fairly smooth for dirt.
The trailhead is easy to miss and is only a medium-sized pull-off on a corner, with a tiny sign 100 feet up the road that says "Grays Creek". But once in the woods, the trail is easy to follow. HUGE numbers of fallen trees though; very little continuous running through the woods.
There were lots of aspens turning, and the forest was lit up with yellow and the the trail was littered with the golden coins of fallen aspen leaves.
As per Mike's report and Gerry Roach's book, there was a fantastic stand of Bristlecone Pines covering most of the basin below the peak.
I spent a good hour or more wandering around in amazement at the surreal dead trees and the stunted living specimens. It was amazing.
The summit is to the left of center:
The Collegiate Peaks to the north, from the summit:
The summit ridge is talus and tundra mixed together, and I was able to run some. The steep drop off the summit ridge was on grass and was totally runnable if you don't mind risking a sprained ankle. I just kept my eyes open. Once I escaped the lure of the Bristlecones, I ran the rest of the way down.
Grays Creek is one of those tiny, pretty mountain tributaries that cascades through the woods along mossy banks:
As usual I kept getting distracted by surreal and sculptural groves of aspen. They are just magnetic to me.
Distance was 10.30 miles, time 5:36 (moving 3:21), elevation gain/loss 4,299 feet, avg. pace 32:40 (moving 19:35), and best pace 5:52. An easy hike/run with lots of time spent enjoying the unique aspects of this trail.
Afterwards I walked by Amica's looking for an early dinner but it was packed, so I tried Moonlight as per brownie. The pizza was good (the Caveman), and the Xtra Pale was pretty good (but not great). I'd go back, but I still think Amica's is the best among the three Arkansas Valley brew pubs (including Eddyline). Their #11 pie is out of this world.