Days 9 and 10 were both shorter days but no less scenic than the previous. Though, perhaps a little less photogenic? I just don’t feel I managed to capture much of it at all.
After staying the night in Durango, CO at the southern side of the San Juan Skyway we decided we had to drive the eastern side of the byway back up to Ridgway. Working a big loop around the 14,000+ ft / 4,300+ m mountain peaks in the area. The start of this drive didn’t seem as scenic as the west side but after working our way along it got better and better, though perhaps didn’t quite live up to the west side’s views. However the road was far more fun to drive, if only I was driving a fun car rather than a big sedan. Though, it’s probably best I wasn’t, a lot of it is dangerous and a mistake at high speed would send you off a very steep and long fall. If you’re lucky, the trees would catch your fall. Eeeek… It always surprises me where they decide to put guard rails along these roads, they seem like they were the safest places for the people working to erect the structure rather than making the most dangerous parts of the road safer. Oh well, adds to the excitement of the journey.
We stopped for lunch in Silverton at a local brew pub with an old truck of some kind parked out front. Sadly there was no hot waitress here like the one in Telluride on the west side but I suppose that was ok. There was still some neat scenery like a raised old yellow taxi, except it was painted brown. Which was a good indication of the kinds of roads that might be in the area if you strayed from the byway. There were lots of raised commercial vehicles in the area.
The rest of this days journey was pretty uneventful, just made out way out to Salida, CO and stayed a local motel. Which just might have been the most religious place I’ve been this side of a church. But it was cheap and fairly reasonable.
This might have been the coolest day of the trip both literally and figuratively. Pikes Peak, 14,110 ft / 4,300 m above sea level. At the base of this mountain in Colorado Springs the temperature was 77°F / 25°C, but atop the mountain 8,000 ft / 2,400 m above the temperature dropped considerably to just above freezing in the sun with some rather high winds.
I wanted to get a picture of Horo up here, and while I managed to I nearly slid off a cliff because the surface I was situated on was just loose rocks and sand in addition to the wind blowing me around. Definitely not my best judgement call, and the picture isn’t even good so bleh. The second picture is a lot more safe and warm and conversely a lot less interesting.
While up there KB9SKW hammed it up for a couple hours making quite a few contacts all over the eastern United States. You’d think during this time I’d have managed to get a really good shot of what 14,110 ft / 4,300 m looked like, but nope. Regardless, it was neat how well the radio worked up there and how clear people were from so far away, even managed to talk to someone from where I used to live.
The top of Pikes Peak is quite a bit larger than I thought it would be, enough room to park many cars, a cog-train and a visitors center. As well as some building covered in radio towers and what not. I still wonder how they do the race up the mountain though, where do the visitors all park their cars, where do the competitors park theirs etc..
The drive down from the mountain was a bit quicker than the drive up, and worked the car just about as hard as the drive up. With grades hitting something like 16% according to the GPS you were required to put the car in low gear and stay off the brakes as much as possible, lest they overheat and you careen off the road. I’m not sure how much of an issue that is with modern cars and brakes, but there was no need to take the risk anyway.