Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 26 – Cold feet, cold hands…and glorious coasting to Pagosa

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Pagosa Springs is one of those highway towns that I’ve driven through countless times and never stopped for anything other than gas…and once for speeding, but we got let off with a warning and directions to whatever we were looking for. But, as it turns out, it’s a neat little town with a lot going on, including the world’s deepest hot springs ($25 to go for a soak in the big pools, but there’s a hippy pool that I think we’re going to check out later), a bluegrass festival ($40 per ticket per day (ouch)), and a lot of good restaurants, bakeries, and a malt shop directly across from our motel. I think I like it here.

We didn’t wait for the sun to hit us in the morning when we woke up. We would have been waiting for hours given our location at the bottom of a huge river valley surrounded by 13,000+ foot peaks. It was our first taste of CO morning camping, cold hands and all.

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Touring with a full laptop…not ultralight touring. Even with a night out, we were still going to beat the mail. We’re like the Pony Express…yeah!

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Scott had ridden our last little river crossing the night before while I had walked. Thus, I had wet shoes to put on and he had dry ones. I was jealous for exactly a mile until we got to our first tributary crossings and both of our feets got equally soaked. That was the last we’d feel of our toes for many miles.

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Bundled in down jackets and hats, we dropped, and dropped, and dropped. What we would have given for a little bit of uphill to get the blood flowing…

We passed campers emerging from the RVs in shorts and teeshirts, looking perfectly comfortable. We wiggled our toes in vain.

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The river grew as the valley tightened down. Towering walls of rocks.

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The river continued to grow as the terrain opened up into the electric green fields that characterize the route west of Wolf Creek. It’s one of my favorite stretches of road to drive – straight out of a fairy tale.

After 9 miles, we finally made it to the highway, just as a group of roadies passed by. In shorts and short sleeves. We figured it might be time to take our puffy jackets and hats off. Scott even took off his knee warmers, I wasn’t that brave.

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A quick 10 miles down the highway got us to Pagosa Springs. The Rose served up a delicious breakfast (much needed after eating gas station pastries for breakfast (our stove is waiting for us in Durango)) and we found the herd of hikers at the motel down from us. Most have scared themselves silly on the snow and are either waiting on ice axes in the mail, contemplating skipping up to Wyoming to hike there first before coming back, or just waiting it out with 8 people crammed into a cheap hotel room. Dirtbaggery at its finest.

We settled into our room. Scott pulled out his laptop that he’d hauled from Chama and settled into tracking. We’ll be here most likely until Monday morning, and then we’ll head to Durango to also wait for the snow to melt. I can’t think of a better place for a layover.

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