James Osborn on the road to Yankee Boy Basin.

James Osborn on the road to Yankee Boy Basin.

This note is from my dear friend, James Osborn, who originally introduced me Ouray and made numerous trip back with me before he passed away in 2008.





joyb2It’s all familiar now. As comforting as the faded, frayed jacket that shields me from the chilly mountain breeze are the well worn ruts and rocks that define this trail — old friends sent to greet me as I make my way home. This familiarity makes the trail seem somehow shorter today, but it in no way diminishes the magnitude of beauty that awaits at every turn. I am being drawn one vista at a time to the magic of Yankee Boy Basin.


joyb3I’ve learned to stop often along the way, to embrace all that my senses can perceive. To search for sounds of rushing water in mountain streams hundreds of feet below. To study in wonder the delicacy of ferns and mosses that cling to the sides of those damp canyon walls. At every bend in the trail, I turn to look behind me knowing the grand vistas which lie ahead are as magnificent as those I have just passed.


joyb4My enjoyment of this trail and this destination are hard to contain. I bring all who will come with me hoping they can somehow share the appreciation I have for this place. The adventure of navigating rugged terrain and driving under rocks as the snowmelt drips overhead are sheer excitement. But if the truth be known, my favorite times at Yankee Boy Basin are those I spend alone.


As I turn off the motor at the end of the trail, I am instantly struck by an eerie, but awesome sensation. The silence is deafening. My heartbeat thunders and my feet seem to crash through the grass as I explore. I gaze upward at the mountain peaks that engulf me and tears fill my eyes. The majesty of Yankee Boy is overwhelming. Nature’s grand scale has made me humble; I am overcome with the insignificance of my own existence.


joyb5In the spring, I am drawn down the hill by the sound of rushing water. As I follow my ears, my eyes discover twin waterfalls emerging from the rocks, and I stare in awe at the tremendous speed and volume created by early snowmelt. In the waning days of summer I step gingerly along these slopes, for Yankee Boy Basin is ablaze with the backlit petals of columbines, irises, amethysts, and bluebonnets in the late afternoon sun. Wildflowers of all descriptions create a virtual palette of color in this brilliant valley.


joyb6A large, flat rock baked in the sunlight makes a good place to pause for a sunset at the end of the day. A good place to think, a good place to write, a good place to dream.
Only darkness makes me leave. But as I retrace my steps, the twinkling lights from cabins nestled in the trees along the canyon walls below remind me of why I have made this journey. My soul has been restored; there is peace in my heart; I have been renewed.

Text and images by James Osborn

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