South Fork

It is a short trip from Pagosa Springs to South Fork going over Wolf Creek Pass.  South Fork is a small community with no traffic lights, McDonald's or Taco Bell.  It does have a gas station, a liquor store and a very nice general store.  When I write 'general' I mean it!  It has all the basic needs of hikers, bikers, fishermen, campers, RVers, and cooks.

Nice place to stay but too close to the highway for me.

South Fork is on the southern end of Highway 149.  We had been told that this very scenic highway was not recommended for RVs.  By parking Mellie in South Fork we were within driving distance of Creede and Lake City.

Creede sits just below a deep canyon that at one time had numerous mining camps.  Today it is the only incorporated city in Mineral County, CO.  In 2010 the census listed its population at 201.  It is charming and colorful. There are some artist galleries and an active theater company.

On the corner of Wall and Main Streets . . .

Creede is like many old mining towns that are continually re-inventing themselves as tourist and artist destinations.

Can you spot Tom?

Slim pickings for new and interesting flowers in Creede.

Walking around Creede, peeking into windows (most stores were closed when we arrived), and watching people is fun but not nearly enough adventure for us.  We decided to try the Bachelor's Loop, a self-guided 17 mile dirt road that would stop at 8 different historical mining sites.  We started up the road which ran parallel to Willow Creek.  It seems like all creeks in this area of Colorado are moving with unusual force and lots of water from spring snow melting.  All was going well until Ms Prissy Prius started sliding backwards and not holding any traction to the road!!  It occurred to me that my car and its occupants could slide all the way backwards and down into the creek!  Tom hopped out to guide me driving backwards, very, very slowly . . . . excruciatingly slowly to a lower part of the road.  Just as we got to a wider part of the road a huge black powerful pickup zipped right past us and up the hill.  Relieved, we found our way back into town.  It was getting towards evening by then so we returned to South Fork.

The beginning of Bachelor's Loop.  Looks pretty tame at this point!

We saw numerous retaining walls built.  Our guess is that these steep walls just keep 'coming down' in this narrow canyon.  They did not look that secure to me!

These were supports for train tracks at one time.

Amazing wood structures!  I was hoping for an interpretive sign in the area but never found one. 

More retaining walls.  It seemed to me that the wall was built progressively higher to protect the wood structure below it.

Just around the corner the road goes steeply upward!  It was up that part of the road that we backed down.

The next morning we decided to drive to Lake City.  Highway 149 goes right through Creede, up over Spring Creek Pass and then over Slumgullion Pass.  My daughter informed me that the Slumgullion Pass has nothing to do with Slumgullion Stew.  We agreed this road is not for Mellie.  Until you get close to Slumgullion Pass the road is not too bad and we spotted lots of RV parks along the way.  This country is just gorgeous, breathtaking, expansive and very tough to capture the grandeur.  One surprise was North Clear Creek Falls.  Wow!

Along the road.

Numerous properties along the road are for sale.  How about a 10 cabin fixer upper?

A picture is worth a thousand words.

This is North Clear Creek Falls.  Would you like it slow?

Or would you like it fast?

Or, maybe just the top?

Or from further downstream as a black and white?

Or with a fisheye's view?

From the car.

From the car.

From the car.

As you enter Lake City you drive right by the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River.

We drove through Lake City and decided it would be on a short list of places to visit from our Gunnison camp.  We dined at the Altitude Restaurant (very, very nice) and returned quickly to South Fork.  The next day we took off about midday for Natural Arch.  That was another adventure.  We started off missing an obvious turn and getting lost before doubling back.  Then we opted for longer route thinking the county road might be smoother.  Wrong!  We stopped along the way because no matter which way we went the scenery was just spectacular at every turn.  I rode the high side of deep ruts in the road, constantly checked to make sure we still had cell phone contact and kept wondering where the signs were for this well known landmark.  We were rewarded when we got to the site.

We were trying to find the right county road and came across an area that I think was just outside Del Norte.  Every house in the community was different.  Several of them had this type of variegated roof.

Where are we?  Hmmm 112 or CR 38 or hmmmmm . . . pretty mountains!

We see these ranch entrances all over the place.  They are massive.  I think this ranch is at the top of the food chain!

A two image pano.

There was a trail, of sorts, that looked like it led to the top.  What a great view might be had from up there.  This was taken about half way up.

Not a bad view from very near the top.  The rocks were getting to be too much for this climber.

I wisely decided to head back down.  Where is Ann when I need her help in getting up the last 10 feet?  I got down by sliding on my fanny!

After shooting all we wanted at Natural Arch we headed back to South Fork.  The vistas were awesome.  The rutted road seemed to matter less and less.

Since 1895!!

A flower for Kati.  Hope she is healing quickly so she can get back to shooting her camera.  I miss her photos and know the rest of you do as well.

That is all of South Fork.  Tonight we are in Del Norte.  Even smaller than South Fork but we had an awesome pizza and salad at the Three Barrel Brewery.  If you drive through here you should definitely stop and eat there.  Thanks for joining us.