Day 36 – Pagosa Springs
We started out early on Sunday morning to do one of Michael’s family’s favorite hikes from when they lived in Pagosa, the trail to Four Mile Falls. We were the first people at the trailhead, but were quickly followed by a group from Denver. That turned out to be a good thing, because we lost the trail a couple of times due to dozens of downed trees and having a group of people to search for it turned out to be helpful. We finally found our way to the falls, which were flowing strong. We had better luck keeping to the trail on the way back, and enjoyed perfect weather and amazing scenery.
After the hike, we decided to splurge and get a burger at the Malt Shoppe in the River Center, one of the few restaurants that has remained basically the same since Michael lived here. After that, we were pretty well spent, so we retired to the campground and enjoyed a quiet evening by the river.
Day 37-40 – Durango
On Monday, after a morning of work, we headed to Durango, an historic mining town and Michael’s birthplace. Along the way, we stopped for a quick picture of Chimney Rock before heading into town. We explored downtown for a while, then we headed to our room in the Cascade Village at Purgatory Resort. It was a perfect place to rest and get some work done, with a full kitchen, jacuzzi tub and bedroom with king-size bed.
Tuesday was a full work and cooking day, as was most of Wednesday, but we did sneak in an afternoon hike on the Purgatory Flats trail. On Thursday, more work before we headed back down into Durango for lunch at the park, then got an oil change and lube for RC at Durango Small Car (no Jiffy Lube for our Westy, we either want a VW mechanic or we do it ourselves). Then we headed for the United Campground, located just north of Durango and right on the tracks for the Durango and Silverton narrow gauge train. It was probably less than 200 feet from our camp site to the tracks, so we were able to walk down and watch each train pass.
Day 41 – Mesa Verde
Friday began with two more chances to watch the train pass, providing a nice work break. After lunch, we left Durango and headed for Mesa Verde National Park. We had a reserved spot in the Morefield Campground, which was perfect because there were several trailheads at the campground, so that allowed us to do two short hikes Friday evening. First we did the Point Lookout trail, which led to amazing views of the Mancos Valley and surrounding mountains. Later in the evening, we hiked the Knife Edge trail, a perfect place to watch the sunset over the Montezuma Valley.
Day 42 – Mesa Verde/Monticello
We woke up early to take the first tour of the day to Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in the park and possibly in all of North America. It was amazing to be able to see one of the cliff dwellings up close. Afterwards, we drove a couple of the tour loops, stopping for a bunch of short hikes to various overlooks and archeological sites on top of the mesa. Then we headed for Cortez for some food and fuel, and then on to Monticello spend the rest of our Saturday resting up, because our tour of Utah’s national parks starts on Sunday.