You will like the Ouray area. Sorry to say that we just came back about 10 days ago so we were a little early for you.
I would have to say that Black Bear is great, Imogene is my favorite. I also really enjoy Mineral Creek and Corkscrew Pass/ Gulch. You are welcome to go to my profile and click on the link below the profile for last years photos.
Monday it was raining, the only clear day of the week was to be Tuesday, so we decided to go it alone hoping to run into others along the way. It started out easy enough, there was one steep scarey climb into the morning sun on a narrow rock ridge that got our attention. Then we had to go up a nice cobble creek section that ended in a steep shelf bit that I prolly could have done, but felt better backing out and taking a bypass to the left since we were alone. We waited at the summit and decided not to go on through if nobody else came along, but sure enough about 10 minutes later 3 jeeps were in sight!
I was pumped! We headed on down and got right into the bears teeth. It was all I had read about, just as gnarly and hairy as the vids all show. We got to the first step, the one I've had night sweats thinking about for weeks. The one I practiced for on the steepest part of my local boat ramp honning my clutch engagment and 3 point turn skills. It's funny how much clutch feel you loose when your knees are bouncing off each other at 200hz. I watched the longer w/base jeep in front of me do it perfectly, and thought I'd breeze right through, Wrong! I didn't swing wide enough. I got out to survey things (my wife wouldn't) and had to back up that steep hill and take a second stab it, no problem that time. It is MUCH steeper than it looks.
We took Imogene back over, I expected it to be much easier, but it was a bit more difficult, just not nearly as narrow most of the time. We also did Engineer pass road (or Mineral pass? the road about 4 miles south of Ouray), That was very fun! It was raining and we did slip off a few rocks. I was shocked there was a bunch of stock rental jeeps with 4 passengers going faster up there than I felt comfortable going in my lifted rubicon! That was OK with me, I had to drive mine home. Two months ago I did most of engineer (from Silverton) on a big adventure bike, but heavy rain stopped me just short of the top, but not this time, not in a Jeep!
I have a new appreciation for my jeep, I was in constant amazment of it's ability and I know I wasn't using 50% of its capability! It was a great trip, wonderful area, and the 12 hour trip out there on the 33" Goodyear MTR's wasn't bad at all, I averaged about 16-17 mpg.
That is a nice video of the steps. Kinda fun to re-live, but being there is much better.
Im impressed with the camera, it must have a "dampener" in it, it was all so smooth and we know the road is very very rough. I also like the perspective to catch all to the far left and right, it let you fell the stress of the moment.
In living the action with you, I caught myself leaning to the left, wanting you to go more to the left before the hard right when you came into the the first switchback after Ingram falls. So what that it was more than a 3 point turn, It was fun for me, I know it was fun for you.
Great camera, great video. You "lived" the fun of it.
Question, do most of you blackbear regulars take that little cobble/creekbed part just before the summit, or the bypass road to the left?
If it is where I think you are talking about, It may not be passable in normal snow years and/or only passable later in the summer when snow is lighter.
In normal years, that area can be still be covered with 4 to 8 ft snow (more in banks) in July and the only passage is the main trail.
Last year (2012) when you went through (August??)was a less than normal snow year. I went through June 29, 2012 and very un-typical lack of snow, almost none. In most years the pass is not open until mid July.
I will look back to see what photos I have from heaver snow years and post.