From Mexican Hat, Utah I made my way to southwestern Colorado, spending time in the Durango-Pagosa Springs and Creede areas. I was in Pagosa Springs to attend the Pagosa Folk & Bluegrass Festival. This was my first time attending this festival. It is held at the Reservoir Hill City Park right in town.
Colorado had one of the biggest snow years in decades. A lot of the roads and trails that would normally be accessible in June were still snowed in or closed due to avalanche or other damage. The heavy snow also meant the rivers and creeks were running dangerously high.
Mid-June, I left Pagosa Springs for Creede. I had traveled through this area once in the past but never spent time here. Creede is in the beautiful Upper Rio Grande Valley.
While there, I went on a hike in the Weminuche Wilderness.
North Clear Creek Falls, one of the most dramatic waterfalls in Colorado, is located about 25 miles north of Creede and just below Spring Creek Pass. The water was raging over the cliff! An observation area is located just a half-mile off Hwy 149. There is a paved parking area with room for large vehicles. Picnic tables and vault toilets are available. It is a must see if driving through this area.
I had planned to stay in Creede through the fourth of July. However, a cold snap was coming through the second week with low 20s predicted in town. I was camped at about 10,000 feet so it may have been colder at that elevation. I decided to cut my stay short and head for lower elevations of Salida/Buena Vista in the Sawatch Mountains.
In Salida, I camped at the Salida Wildlife Management Area. This is a popular dispersed camping area. Depending on where one camps, there are great views of 14,229 foot Mt. Shavano to the west, or of the 12,000 foot mountains to the south.
One of the consequences of spending six months in the lower elevations of Arizona is having to re-acclimate to Colorado’s higher elevations. Since I was camped near Mt. Shavano I decided to do a training hike on the trail that leads to the summit. I wanted to hike up to tree line at about 12,000 feet. I went to about 12,200 which was 2.7 miles and 2,220 feet of elevation gain. I hiked to the summits of Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak (which is just behind Shavano) a few years ago.
There were many hummers coming to my nectar feeder. Broad-tailed hummers are the most common species here at this time of the year. Rufous hummers start migrating through in July. Some of the females I saw may have been rufous. I’m not very proficient at identifying the females.
I went to Sands Lake, which is by the Arkansas River in Salida. The Arkansas is one of the most popular rivers in Colorado for rafting. Salida has a nice walking/biking path that goes along the river for several miles. Some of it was currently under water.
The week after July 4th, l left Salida for my annual visit to Westcliffe for the bluegrass festival.