Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Platoro’
Posted on June 11, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 7: June 10, 2010
Mugote CO to near Stunner Campground on the Alamosa River in the Rio Grande NF
High mountains now, heat has moderated, sunny, still strong winds. Slow climbing and a quick descent on loose gravel roads
Peanut, who is pretty much Debbie and Mark Atanian’s baby, took sick a couple of days ago, then suddenly lost the use of his hind legs. The trip to the vet for the dauchsund meant four hours driving, round trip, 50 of that on loose washboard gravel. There was no question that Peanut was going to the vet. Peanut is special. That the road out of Platoro, Colorado, is long and rough is part of what it takes to keep the Conejo River valley and the tiny town at its headwaters special, too.
“Absolutely nobody who spends time up here wants to see that road paved,” Debbie said. “If that happened, everybody would find their way up here.”
It’s not like Platoro isn’t on the map. In 1859, silver was discovered on nearby Mount Klondike by miners spilling over from the already booming Summitville mine but the town didn’t really take off until the 1880s when the Summitville-Del Norte road made it more accessible. It boomed and busted a few times, first silver, then gold. Now it’s tourism and tradition that attracts people to the dusty, windy town.
The Rio Grande National Forest is especially ATV, jeep, mountain bike and, at Platoro, RV friendly. Trout Unlimited has helped keep the Conejo River a choice stream for anglers. The place is also a metropolis of bike tourism, as far as I’m considered. Having seen one other bike traveler so far on my trip, I was surprised to find five just ahead of me in Platoro, all following Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Trail.
Cody Gardner and Brian Puccerella, two Texas Tech students are 15 days and 750 miles into their Great Divide experience. Dave Gieger, a University of Dayton student from Chicago, teamed up with two Dutch cyclists to do the trek.
The ride along the Conjeo River was absolutely gorgeous, if not exactly pleasant. Shifting sands and gravel made for a dusty slog, especially as RV and trucks stirred up great clouds passing one way, the other or both at once. Morning headwinds let up, and even helped a little, before returning with a vengeance as I approached Platoro.
I walked around the six-block historic town, scarfed down three little cherry pies and a bologna sandwich and talked with Debbie for a while. They’ve been running the Gold Pan store, RV and cabin rentals for 10 years, making improvements every summer.
“Mark used to come up here hunting and fishing and he’d always come back saying, ‘We’ve gotta get a place up there.’ So about 10 years ago we did,” Debbie said. “It’s a labor of love. If we had kids, we could never afford it, but they don’t so this it their college fund.”
Full of pie and convinced the wind had settled a little bit, I headed out for Stunner Pass to put a few more miles behind me. Six, to be exact. Platoro is at 9,900 feet. I left and climbed to Stunner Pass at 10,541, then descended a tortured forever to this meadow. I have no idea what elevation it is, but I thought my bike would fall apart on the descent. My handlebar bag came loose and rested on a brake cable risking long-term trouble, the trailer tried to jump off its spindle and my hands about gave up the ghost from gripping the brakes. All the guys at Platoro had suspension and hydrolic brakes. If I were to do much more of this off highway stuff, I’d make a different bike choice, too. I finally stopped just shy of the Stunner Campground because it was just time to stop. My whole bike needed to be cleaned and tightened up. I had peanut butter and jelly tortillas for dinner. The day is done. My sleeping bag smells like Fritos. What’s with that?