Monday, August 31, 2015

What A Pleasant Rocky Mountain High

We leave the charming, mountainous area of Pagosa Springs tomorrow.  Our month at The Last Resort Campground has been comfortable, very quiet and relaxing.  Fortunately we were assigned one of their best campsites which made our stay even better. Ron and I are glad we chose this area of Colorado to explore and this campground for our home-base.  We've enjoyed fantastic mountain scenery, some exciting Jeep trails, great campground hosts, cool weather and the soothing effects of the hot springs.

We spent our last Saturday morning wondering around the Pagosa Springs Farmer's Market.  We bought a variety of items this day: fresh Colorado peaches, tomatoes and spices.  Other visits to this market have found us leaving with homemade berry pies, strawberry-rhubarb jam, lemon cucumbers? a piece of crafted jewelry and peppermint hand lotion.

We feel like we have been on about every dirt road here!  We have had a ball and have seen some of the most wonderful Rocky Mountain scenery.
Our Jeep trail ride to Williams Creek Reservoir provided us with more of that awesome Colorado scenery.  This trail is part of the Piedra Area/Weminuche Wilderness.
We always take lunch with us when we go out exploring in the Jeep.  What a great choice for our picnic this day!
Williams Creek Reservoir has been my favorite place so far.

Another trail we enjoyed was the Mill Creek-Nipple Mountain Road.

This day, the white daisies were in full bloom.
The road ended at this spectacular lookout point.
Behind us..

This westward direction in front of us looked out over Echo Lake and the San Juan River area.

Of course we wanted to travel back over Wolf Creek Pass again.  Our excuse this time was to explore the Big Meadows Reservoir. We were stunned to see this recently burned area northwest of the Reservoir. The West Fork/Big Meadows Forest Fire burned over 80,000 acres in 2013.  The fire was made worse by the hundreds of dead trees killed by the spruce beetles.

However, Big Meadows Reservoir was a bit underwhelming to us compared to some of the the other lakes in the area.  The burn-area is just up the mountain from the reservoir.
This highlight of this trip was rounding the curve and spotting the bear in the road.

We had read about the Summitville Mine and Ghost town.  Curious, we took off, traveling down another dirt path for 18 miles.  We came finally found the ghost town of deteriorating wooden buildings.
We were surprised to see reddish-orange water in the stream not far from the road.  It was also an unpleasant feeling seeing the mountain cut away, knowing those toxic minerals in that stream were results of that mining process.

We also saw this newly built water treatment plant used to monitor and clean the toxic water run-off.  The Summitville Mine is a designated "Superfund Site". 
One can see how badly this mountain had been cut away for mining purposes.

 This yellow-bellied marmot sat very still for quiet a while, allowing me to get a good closeup picture. We spied it in the rocks along the side of the dirt road not far from the water treatment facility.

As we returned back on the same dirt path from the Summitville site, we came upon this fifth wheel in the "perfect" wilderness campsite.  What a view!

More later as we Eas-on Down the Road to Durango, Colorado.

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