Perhaps my favorite trip of the year is the one that Mindy and I like to embark on the week prior to Hardrock. This year I had devised a route that would take us to Leadville, down to the Great Sand Dune National Park, through Pagosa Springs, Durando, and then onto Silverton. Crammed into the 5 days before Hardrock, this was an incredibly fun trip.
Sunday July 8th, Chad Brackelsberg and I did the “Massive Traverse”, an incredible route that runs the Mount Massive ridgeline from Windsor Lake, over the many small summits of Mount Massive, and down to the Colorado Trail at the Halfmoon Creek trailhead. Chad had been out in Colorado training for and chipping away at the “Leadman”, a gnarly stringing together of various races in and around Leadville (which at the time of my writing this he has now completed). As we made our way across the beautiful ridgeline, we kept checking on our friend Erik Storheim, who was running the entire Millwood in a single push, a feat that had not yet been accomplished. I had to chuckle at the paradigm shift technology was allowing for. Here were were, cruising along at 14,000′ in the Sawatch mountains, looking intently at a 4G equipped cell-phone for GPS points that were being transmitted every 10 minutes from somewhere in the Wasatch mountains to LEO (Low-Earth Orbiting) satellites. Erik went on to finish the gnarly route, a herculean accomplishment! Erik is a total stud.
That evening, we had a nice dinner with Chad and then Mindy and I took off, bound for the Great Sand Dune National Park just south of the Sawatch Range and west of the Sangre de Cristo range. I had wanted to visit this park for years. In fact, the Sangre de Cristo range in general is a place that I will explore more in the future, having only been there once previously. It’s remote and rugged, thus having obvious appeal. We arrived at the park about an hour before sunset and were able to get out and tromp up a few of the incredible dunes. Wow, this place is beautiful! Set against the backdrop of a bunch of 14ers, is one of the more spectacular places on earth. We we in heaven:
After enjoying the dunes, we drove to the Zapata Falls Campground, just south of the park. Beautifully maintained and perched high on the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the views are unparalleled. The sunset over the San Luis Valley the San Juan Mountains to the west were incredible. This is a must visit spot.
From here our trip took us to Pagosa Springs, where we visited the incredible hot-springs. They’re expensive, but worth checking out as they offer many different pools of varying size and temperature. A very quick and intense rain & lightening storm shut down the facility for an hour or so, but we still got a good soak in.
Next, the beautiful drive to Durango and onto Silverton. We spent the few days prior to Hardrock with our friends Suzanne and David and all got out for various hikes and bike-rides before the big dance. LIFE IS GRAND!