June 8, 2004

Durango, CO

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 3:20 am by diandy2004

After leaving the Cortez area, we moved onto Durango, CO. We got lucky in that we were in the area during two festivals – the Mancos’ Old Time Fiddler’s Festival and Durango’s Animas River Days Festival. So we spent an afternoon in Mancos listening to amateur fiddlers compete, and who would’ve known there are so many good ones out there! And we stopped down at the River Days Festival periodically to see different events. We watched kayakers play in the rapids doing tricks, we saw a downstream race, and a “big dog” stick competition (they threw a stick into the river and the first dog to get it won). The current and rapids in the Animas River are pretty intense. Those dogs had to do a mean doggy-paddle to get back out!

Kayakers Race on Animas River Festival

Kayakers Race on Animas River Festival

Downtown Durango is cute with the old brick and stone buildings, city square blocks with lots of restaurants, shops, microbreweries, etc. The Animas runs along the edge or through town and the city has built a great walking/biking trail for most it’s length. This area is very focused on outdoor living probably because it is located near national forests and lots of open space.

On Sunday we drove 30 miles north of town to hike a trail called Coal Bank Pass. Starting elevation 10,700′, ending elevation was to be at the tree line at 12,000′. Yes, we expected there to be snow at this elevation, but we did not expect 10′ snow drifts on the trails and the slopes surrounding us. Boy was it beautiful though with pines and aspens taller than I could guess. And it smelled just like Christmas. In the four hours we hiked we only saw two other people. They figured it was still a little early to be using that trail, especially after we lost the trail and it took about 1 hour to find it again. We never did reach the tree line however, because we were watching our time and didn’t want to be out at dark. Along the way we had beautiful views of other snow-capped mountains and a mountain lake with snow still lying on the surface. It was a slow-moving hike because of the snow. We would frequently find our feet dropping feet into the snow, sometimes up to our hips, so you would have to pull yourself out and hope to find a more solid spot with the next step. Some of the trail was on a steep slope and once I lost my footing and found myself sliding down the slope on my butt for about 20 feet before I caught myself on a tree trunk – what a hoot! Needless to say, by the end of our hike our feet were soaked from snow going in the tops of our boots and our pants were wet from sinking into the snow. Good thing the air temp was a comfortable 72 degrees.

Andy Crossing Snow Drifts

Andy Crossing Snow Drifts

Snow-Covered Views

Snow-Covered Views

We also took a side-trip to Spud Lake:

Beaver Dams at Spud Lake

Beaver Dams at Spud Lake

Well we will be leaving Durango tomorrow – sort of. We are driving to Silverton, but will take the Narrow Gauge Railroad (an old-fashioned coal-powered steam engine) back to Durango. We’ll spend Wednesday night in a hotel in Durango (so we can enjoy the local microbreweries) and then return to Silverton on Thursday. The railroad follows the Animas River between the two cities and will cut through the national forest. It’s supposed to be a very scenic ride. Note: the NGR is not responsible for damage to persons or clothing by coal cinders or soot. Say what?

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