Today dawned crisp and clear. As we walked into the village for breakfast, we could see on the eastern horizon the San Juan Mountains silhouetted against the brilliant blue morning sky. In the foreground, a bank of fog was slowly drifting across the landscape. The grass was glistening with the heavy dew and the San Juan River rushed under the bridge. A stunning morning.
Breakfast done and the fog burnt away by the ascending sun, we donned our gear, now supplemented with liners, filled up with gas and made tracks towards South Fork Colorado, where we would turn north on Route 149, well known as the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.
On route there, we had to ascend Wolf's Creek Pass, which tops out just short of 11,000 feet. Just as I emerged from a very nice corner, I felt John's hand on my right shoulder, the agreed signal that he wanted to stop. I had been so concentrating on the corner I had been oblivious to the Treasure Falls. We turned around, made the stop and took our photos of this very pretty feature. Back on the pass I noticed from my GPS that there was a hairpin bend coming up. I surmised that there would be a turnout with a view and was not disappointed. Indeed, we were rewarded with a view that was clearly created in Heaven. Just beautiful. A little bonus was the number of tiny squirrels scampering around, inquisitive and quite unafraid.
We stopped a few times on the easy to South Fork, marveling at the majestic scenery. This was to be the case for most of the ride.
The morning halt was called at South Fork, at Handlebar Donuts. I had bear claw. It was as large as a Rocky Mountain boulder with a calorie count to match. According to the proprietor, 2,500. Gulp! I determined that I would have salad for lunch.
The Americans have put great effort into identifying the most scenic routes across the country. These have been well documented band there are a number of websites that provide the traveler with all kinds of information about them. The roads are usually sealed and always worth traveling. They can be slow and are often indirect. They are not for people in a hurry. Many highlights of this trip have come from riding the Scenic Byways of America.
And so to Route 149, Silver Thread. For many miles the road travels alongside the Rio Grande, which is, after the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the third longest river in the USA. It varies between rushing through narrow valleys and cutting slow meanders in the plains between the mountains.The road rises steeply, in some places cut into the side of the mountain, and plunges into valleys the other side. There were many turn outs and pull offs affording spectacles that the visitor never tires of, with a variety of hill and dale, peak and pastures. Not to be omitted from mention are the many sweeping bends to delight the motorcyclist!
At one viewpoint we took in Red Mountain, Mount Uncompahgre and the side of a huge landslide! And as we were leaving, John spotted two very large military aircraft flying in formation high above us. Perhaps Starlifters. At many places we saw the aspen trees beginning to turn gold with the approach of Autumn, but sadly also observed the many thousands of dead trees that have infested with the pine beetle, especially going up the nearly 12,000 foot Slumgullion pass.
Our lunch break was taken in Lake City. There were many fine old houses and other buildings which seem to be in excellent repair.
Today's ride was three and a quarter hours, so a little shorter than 'standard' but the beauty was so engrossing we barely noticed the time go by. Please have a look at the photos page. My words are inadequate to describe what we saw.