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Ouray at Last

I posted last week that my long-term stays in Colorado have come to an end, but I did have one more week planned before I really left. That was back down in the beautiful San Juans, which you might recall, I lived in during the summer of 2021. Including once on that trip, I can remember four separate times that I've been to Ouray, though it could be more than that. Regardless, my six-day stay at the beginning of September was the first time I really did the Ouray touristy things. And I had a fantastic time!

My partner and I spent the first four nights at the Abram Inn and Suites, which was a lovely place to stay. The Polish woman who owns the place is really helpful and friendly, and the stay includes a breakfast voucher every day for Mi Mexico restaurant. We ate there two of the mornings, and then also had breakfast next door to the hotel at the excellent Artisan Bakery & Cafe.

I had to work during the days, while my partner went out mountain biking, but I also did a few training trail runs. There are great uphill training options in Ouray, like up to the Chief Ouray mine or the Portland mine. We went to the Ouray Hot Springs one evening, which surprisingly, I had never been to, and also to Orvis Hot Springs on the way out of town the last day - also new to me. Ouray Hot Springs had the spectacular views and Orvis had the serenity. 

On Friday we went to Box CaƱon Falls. This was so cool to see! There is a $7 entry fee though, which felt steep for the short walkway. But if you are hiking the Perimeter Trail (which I did and saw the beautiful waterfall on the east side of town), you can drop down into the park for free. 

What I can't believe was free is the via ferrata! The amount of work that went into building that must have been immense. We had our own helmets and harnesses, but we rented the lanyards. There's a ranger from 8 - 4 to check your gear and let you on and then it's up to you, if you aren't on a guided tour, which we weren't. We did the downstream route, which is supposed to be slightly easier but a bit longer. 

This was my third time doing a via ferrata and they have all been different. This was the longest one I've done. It was challenging and got my heart racing at times, but I never felt in danger of falling and I only used my resting carabiner once. I was glad to be with my partner though, because it was helpful having him point out the best foot moves sometimes. It wasn't always clear to me when to have my feet on the rungs and hands on the rock, or vice versa. There were also some blind moves around corners. But there's also plenty of opportunity to rest and have a snack and enjoy the beautiful canyon. 

I recommended going in the off-season like we did (after Labor Day) and on a Wednesday because there was only one other couple there with us. I think it would be really frustrating if it were busy and you were constantly stuck behind people until the passing zones. Also, if you do get too nervous, there are two early bail-out points, but we did the whole thing.

Besides all that, we ate out a lot. The biggest standout was The Outlaw Restaurant. Dynamite from beginning to end - the service, the food, the drinks, the live music. A++. On the flip side, against my better judgment, we went to the Ouray Brewery one night and it was mediocre as always. I've been there several times and never found it especially enjoyable, but the rooftop keeps pulling me in. After the teeny-tiny wings we had there, we needed redemption and found ourselves at Full Tilt Saloon twice for excellent, jumbo wings and great beer. We also went to Thai Chili Restaurant one night (great service, great food) and Kami's Samis, which had friendly service but unremarkable food.

My stay culminated with running the 50th annual Imogene Pass Run, which you can read about here. It has been on my bucket list for some time, and was the whole impetus for this week. After the race and a fancy dinner at Cosmopolitan in Telluride, we spent our last night in the boutique and historic Hotel Ouray, which was really charming, and then I was on my way to California!