Just another day on the BMW motorcycle traveling through Colorado.
We started this morning in Durango, at 6500' in the bottom of the Animas River Valley. When I went for a run along the river at 6:30 am the temperature was 44 degrees, and by the time we left at 8:15 it had warmed up to the low 50's. We headed east on Route 160 under clear, bright blue skies along the northern edge of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and into the San Juan National Forest that covers over 1,800,00 acres.
We alternated between stick-straight roads with distant views of the Rockies to sweeping curves that wound through the forest. When we reached Pagosa Springs, a small town at 7,000' on the western edge of the Continental Divide, we came to the first of several areas of road construction. I didn't mind the slower speeds because the sun was bright and the scenery gorgeous.
Just past Pagosa Springs we started the curving trek up Wolf Creek Pass and the Continental Divide. When settlers first came through this area it would take 2-3 weeks to travel the 42 miles between Pagosa Springs and South Fork. Today we zoomed along the highway which narrows to 2 winding, twisting lanes on the eastern side of the Continental Divide.
When we moved from Vermont to Arizona last July, we traveled the opposite direction on 160, and stopped at the Continental Divide to mark the journey. Today we kept going, sweeping down the eastern side of the pass into the Rio Grande National Forest.
At Del Norte we turned north onto Colorado Route 112, riding through the flat farmland in the San Luis Valley.
The distant mountains were only a dark smudge in the distance, but as we headed north on Route 285 we knew we would be riding through these mountains before the end our trip today. We stopped for lunch at the quirky Coyote Cantina just outside Buena Vista and sat outside in the courtyard to enjoy the sunshine and temperatures that had warmed into the 70's.
Our optimism about a sunny day came to a crashing halt less than 30 minutes after getting back on the BMW after lunch as the puffy white clouds turned dark gray, the wind picked up, the temperature dove toward 60 and we felt the first drops of rain. We stopped and put on our raingear and watched the clouds continue to build over the mountains as we rode through the Arkansas River Valley.
By the time we reached Kenosha Pass at 10,000', we were riding in and out of rain with little hope of seeing the sun again today. The traffic built the closer we came toward metropolitan Denver, not unexpected on Friday afternoon of the Labor Day weekend holiday. The combination of rain and traffic made this my least favorite section of today's 390 miles.
We ended the day walking down Pearl Street in Boulder with Duncan and Nate, making plans to spend the next two days with them. Monday we turn southwest toward Arizona and home, taking a different route and looking forward to new sights. Preferably, with sunshine.