Trip Date: July 13, 2013
Wendy and I were both tired after our hike the day before at Ghost Ranch. So we hung around Pagosa Springs on the fourth day of our vacation.
Day 4: PAGOSA SPRINGS AREA
We had breakfast at the hotel and then drove downtown to walk. The hot springs right off the highway were gurgling away, belching sulfurous fumes which convinced us we did not want to take a soak at one of the indoor or outdoor pools. We saw participants signing in for the town’s “Average Joe Cruise-a-Thong” which has folks riding bikes, then going for a float down the San Juan River, and then walking through town on thongs, the shoewear nowadays more commonly known as flip-flops. It was overcast and chilly, so Wendy and I chose not to try floating down the San Juan.
We walked past the downtown shops and then along the river on the east edge of the town, finding some nice bachelor buttons with honeybees in a planter in front of a motel. I took multiple shots of bees loaded down with pollen.
We drove 20 miles north on US 160 to Treasure Falls. A girl was feeding hungry little Golden-mantled ground squirrels near the parking area.
Ascending up the trail to the Misty Deck for a closer look, Wendy reminded me of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World painting as she gazed at the falls.
We took a side trail to the overlook to gaze at Sheep Mountain to the west. We spotted a butterfly and Wendy admired the wild roses beside the trail.
A German family was scrambling all over the falls area, laughing and taking snapshots. We would hear German on occasion over the next few days, emanating from fellow tourists flocking to Mesa Verde National Park, the Durango-Silverton train, etc.
Wolf Creek Pass
We climbed higher, to the Wolf Creek Pass overlook for a view of the valley of the West Fork of the San Juan, but the altitude was making Wendy’s ears and head ache despite chewing gum and other tricks to alleviate the internal pressure. But she did take time to shoot the weird, or should I say haunting, “Spooky Bunny” graffiti.
We ascended higher up the pass for another view of the valley below, complete with wildflowers. The winding highway brought back to mind C.W. McCall’s Wolf Creek Pass song. I took Wendy on up to the top of the pass and the Continental Divide. At 10,856 feet, we had ascended over 3,700 feet from Pagosa Springs. Her ears were killing her, so we retreated back down to town for lunch.
TripAdvisor led us to DSP Pizza, where they served us truly immense slices of pizza and yummy cinnamon sticks. What does DSP stand for? Diorio’s South Pizza, a name given by the orginal owner years ago. The current owners have no idea who this Diorio was or why DSP was named after him, but what has stayed the same is the great pizza. We enjoyed the changing colors of the Christmas lights draped overhead and the wacky wall décor.
The pizza slices were so ridiculously large that we hauled the leftovers back to the refrigerator in our hotel room to enjoy later. It isn’t often that a slice of pizza suffices for two meals.
Ice Cave Ridge
We returned to the hotel to rest, and then made the mistake of driving 16 miles northwest to the Piedra River, where we tried to hike up Ice Cave Ridge. The altitude wore out Wendy too much for this ascent and we turned back, but were rewarded with a gorgeous panorama of clouds above the Piedra River as it wound its way northeast toward the San Juans.
Back at the hotel, we cleaned up and ate leftover pizza in our room off a table I devised out of a lowered ironing board covered by a beach towel. We would enjoy some fine restaurants on the vacation, but that in-room meal had its own charm.
The next day we would return to the Piedra River for a hike before decamping to Durango for a melodrama.
Click here for a slideshow from this day