As much as we enjoyed our time (and weather) in the quaint little town of Silverton, it was time to move on and we were pretty excited about our next stop, which was Dolores, Colorado. Well, if you've ever been to Dolores, you may ask yourself, WHY would you be SO excited to go there?
Well, we had checked out the area when we were in Towaoc, and yes, that is a logical question. Don't get me wrong, Dolores is another cute small town, about an hour from Durango, but after spending time in the Silverton area, Dolores just didn't have that "wow" factor that many places in Colorado seem to have. Perhaps we may be a little spoiled with all of the gorgeous areas we've explored recently!?!
We both had some work to get knocked out while we were there, again, not the greatest reason to be excited. But what we were excited about was connecting with our friends David and Sharon; THAT was definitely a reason to be excited! We've been fortunate that our paths have crossed a few times in our travels and every time we get together, they are an inspiration for us to get out and really experience an area. Last year when we were with them in Michigan, we conquered an entire island on our bikes. Albeit it was only around 22 miles, it probably would have been something that we wouldn't have attempted without a little nudge and inspiration. One of the things that we really appreciate about them.
It's the Friends We Meet
Along the Way
That Help Us Appreciate
While Greg was hard at work, I was preparing for their arrival. Usually there's not much prepping for meet ups, but it was David's birthday, so a little decoration was in order!! (Hey...it's not easy decorating a campsite!!)
And a little party was also in order because there's no better reason to celebrate than a birthday!! The folks who Greg was doing an install for--Carol and Iain--joined us for the celebration as well!! David and Sharon had met Iain and Carol earlier this year at the RV-Dreams rally, so it was a little bit of a reunion. While the dinner wasn't the best we've ever made, the cake was awesome!!
Best kind of cake!! And it doesn't heat up the kitchen making it!!!
Carol and Iain
With Greg's knee causing him a few issues, we've been super cautious until we can get in to see the doctor, so he sat out on most of the physical activities this round, so with Greg holding down the fort, the three of us hit the hiking trail at McPhee Reservoir. Overall, I think we hiked about four or five miles and it was a fairly easy hike around part of the reservoir.
The next day we hit Mesa Verde National Park and did one one small hike to one of the ruins--Step House Ruin--which was a self guided tour. As we mentioned in our last blog, this park has some of the best ruins that we've seen and it was really nice to get to see one of the ruins up close.
After that, we made our way over to the Chapin Mesa loop and hit the Petroglyph Point Trail. It was a really nice two and a half mile loop that starts below the edge of a plateau, then makes its way to a petroglyph panel, then climbs to the top of the mesa and returns via the rim. It has great views of two canyons--Spruce and Navajo and is a moderate hike, with a few challenging spots throughout.
We almost missed this ruin that was built up into a cliff
This is the petroglyph panel. Not the best one we've seen, but so far the hardest one to get to. Still worth the hike though!!
This little guy was posing for a picture!!
And while we were out playing, Greg was hard at work. We usually don't talk much about the solar side our our life, but he was installing a pretty tricked out lithium system...which even I have to admit is pretty much da' bomb!
Our time in Dolores came to an end, and we all continued to our next stop, which was Ridgway State Park in Ridgeway, Colorado. Back to the mountains. Aaaahhhh!!!
Our cozy spot at Ridgway
Beautiful lake at the park
Unfortunately, the day after we arrived, Greg had to catch a quick flight back to Pennsylvania for his uncle's funeral. While it wasn't unexpected, it's still never easy and fortunate that we were in a position for him make a quick trek back.
I was also glad David and Sharon were there so I didn't have to entertain myself!! Of course they had scoped out a great hike for us --Blue Lakes-- and it was awesome. It's actually a series of three lakes, with the first one about three and half miles in with about 1500 feet gain in elevation. We started out the hike talking all big and bad, with hopes of making it to all three lakes and to Mount Sneffels, which is a 14,000 footer...but after a couple of miles, I was just hoping to make it to the first lake!!
There were a couple of challenging river crossings
But the reward was this gorgeous, piercing blue/green lake
We hiked until about 1:00 and then turned around, knowing that every afternoon the dark clouds come rolling in and rain is soon to follow. You can hear the thunder bouncing from mountain to mountain; knowing the rain was coming soon. It may sprinkle a bit; it may pour, you just never know. We got caught in a little afternoon rain storm, but nothing too bad....and of course David had scouted out some shelter if we had needed it.
The blue turned to gray....and the storm rolled in.
Even with gray skies, the place is beautiful!!
Ultimately, we made it a little past the first lake, probably half way to the second lake, reaching 11,270 feet in elevation. The hike itself was gorgeous, and with the wildflowers blooming everywhere and being surrounded in beauty, I barely even noticed how tired I was!! Think we were about 500 feet short of the second lake (all uphill), clocking close to eight miles and 1700 ft in elevation gain. If there ever is a next time, it would be great to hike to the first lake, camp the night and tackle the rest the following day. Can't imagine how great the views would be at the very top!!
After a tough day of hiking, the following day we rested a bit and went into the town of Ridgway for dinner and the town's weekly concert series. We grabbed some beers and pizza at Colorado Boy Pizza and then wandered over to the park for the festivities. We weren't sure if the rain would hold off, but it did and we were pleasantly surprised with the awesome music and just overall fun atmosphere of the free event.
Opening act, Carrie Rodriguez
And kids just having fun!!
It's a mini festival of sorts, with food trucks, beer tents and two artists performing and it seemed like the whole town came out for the fun!! Expectations exceeded for sure!!
The next day Greg flew back in and we spent a couple of days exploring the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The canyon is carved through solid granite over countless millennia and the dark canyon walls plunge an awe-inspiring 2,700 feet to the Gunnison River below. The national park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.
The afternoon dark skies compete with the darkness of the canyon
Hobie had to get in on the action!! For some reason, he's always giving us "that" look....
Painted Rock, the highest cliff in Colorado.
If the Empire State building stood in the canyon floor, it would reach slightly more than halfway to the top of the cliff.
The walls of Painted Rock
After the Park, which was pretty spectacular, we were on our way back to the campground, and passed a sign for the Func Fest. Hmmm...sounds like fun, even though we had no idea what a Func fest was. But after a quick google search, we discovered that the Func-y River Parade at the Func Fest was just about to start, so we diverted to catch the water parade and the rest of the festivities.
This was our favorite "float" at the parade
What's a water festival without a man on a horse!
The festival was taking place at the Montrose River Park, which looked like a great little park with some challenging kayaking and SUP'ing waters. And aside from the Func-y parade, the festival had various booths, music, food and various water activities. An unplanned fun activity!!
It's always great connecting with friends on the road and sad when the time comes to an end. We enjoyed some great dinners, hikes and adventures and like always, they were an inspiration for us to take our explorations to another level. Luckily, we're all still hanging around Colorado for a little longer, so we're sure our paths will cross again. And, can't wait to explore some more with them....because with friends, the journey is just a little more fun.