With the wide dirt road stretching ahead of us into the mountains we figure this should be a fun little side trip. Arriving at the foot of the mountain we find another dirt parking area with a sign at the other end. To this point pretty much any car could have made it as long as they were ok with the car wash that would be needed afterward (from the dust). Now we are looking at a sign that says the road narrows and you should think twice before committing your beauty to this path.
I guess I should explain my beauty at this point as a matter of perspective. She is sitting in the passenger seat; 5’8” brunette, green eyes… Ah, my car. It is a ’10 Subaru Outback with a lot of miles on it (isn’t that surprising). All Subarus are AWD (all wheel drive, all of the time). They also have pretty high ground clearance for not being a truck. Because of a peculiarity of mine, my Subaru has a manual transmission. It also has heated seats, for which I have become very appreciative of in North Idaho, and a sunroof which I have never opened. I should also mention that my snow tires are a +1 setup which makes them a little more forgiving in this rough environment. Further, their days are numbered so I don’t have a lot of luv left for them. In other words, my car is good to go up this narrowed trail, how bad could it be?
Looking her in the eyes, which I can never get tired of, I grin as I say “let’s do this”. We head up and in to the canyon. It narrows quickly as does the road, which also grows rocks and ruts. One advantage of the smaller Subie is I can drive around some things a larger truck just has to take on. A couple of things are immediately clear. This is a pretty time of year to be in this canyon. The other is I sure hope another admirer is not done with their admiring and on their way down. Our narrow corridor soon has a turn in it hiding a little stream. Given that only two wheels will be in the water at once and that it all looks flat I proceed on through. Up some more, cross the stream again and up some more. That last stretch was a little rockier; we were going a little slower. And now I’m looking at a crossing that will put all wheels in the water. The exit is steeper and looking at the road beyond shows it even rougher. I bravely chicken out and declare the end to our driving. Although we have no clue how much further Ophir is, we’ll be walking the rest of the way because we say, what the hell, we made it this far. And besides, where do we really need to be? Actually, we’ll be walking a little further because I can’t leave the car here. It is taking up the whole road and there is nowhere to park. With no room to turn around I have to back down this narrow, steep, rocky road until I find a place I can stuff the car away. When we aren’t crossing that little stream it has been running parallel to one side of the road or the other. And there is usually a 5-10 foot drop off along the side. Backing up a car is not that hard, right? How about downhill, on a narrow crappy road, which you can’t see because of the incline and little margin to keep from rolling sideways into water. I thought it was fun. She asked if it would be better if she got out. I said sure, but since the doors couldn’t open because of all the brush she would have to go out the sunroof. I knew it was good for something. She decided to stay. It only took about 100 yards of backing before I found a spot that I could get the car off the road.
We squeezed out; brush still being a problem, loaded up supplies for a picnic, grabbed my camera and headed uphill after also grabbing a blanket. She said, trust her, we’ll need it. It was uphill, a sunny day and an elevation of at least 7000 feet. Turns out it was a tougher hike than expected. But, pretty company, pretty scenery and lots of butterflies. There were two kinds and they were flitting all about.
We figured we were the first humans up here this year as there were several snow banks still covering the road, with no tracks in them.
Ophir sits in a charming little valley. This is a great place to hike or even ski in the winter. Quads or snow mobiles would be a better way to start. Mostly there are only foundations left. There are a couple of examples of cabins built up out of rocks. Sorry, no ghosts, nor many places for them to live. But as far as having sex in the middle of the road, during the day, no problem. In fact, you now had a whole town available.
Interestingly, as we wandered around we came upon about 7 head of cattle, one pretty small. They were not happy to see us and stampeded up the canyon, the little one bouncing behind. Had they wintered up here or come up earlier in the spring? We saw no evidence of them while we hiked in.
The day grew long and our time grew short. Done with all that we intended we headed down. The car was where we left it. We packed up and drove out. As soon as we exited the canyon proper two conflicting things happened. One we spotted a small herd of Pronghorn Antelope. Second, my phone spotted its carrier. We hadn’t had much connection since we left Battle Mountain, but for some reason, up here on the shoulder of this mountain, my phone could find home. Yes, I had messages.