Monday, June 1, 2009


I am ready to return to durango.
come with me, and I will do my best to recreate at best, part of my experience, and at the least, just the smallest sense of the grandeur and majesty of this spot on earth that must have been lovingly shaped by God's own hands.

we drove into durango on a rainy friday evening, clouds draped over the tops of the san juans, the tree-covered hills of the town romantically misty and deeply green. the sun was hidden behind rainclouds, and the filtered light lent a magical cast to the town's simple streets and hilly walls.
those hills hugged the little city, pines and grand old deciduous trees throughout. my heart swelled.
the morning of the ride dawned dry and cool: perfect riding conditions. as we awaited the official start, we listened to the steam engine preparing to pull its cars up to silverton, the rumbling engine much more confident than my own.
when the train whistle blew ~ again and again ~ we all pushed forward, us on the worn asphalt and that engine on its own little narrow gauge track. it had begun: no turning back now.
the ride began both gently and beautifully, as we headed north toward silverton on the Million Dollar Highway.
fat white clouds hovered far away and far above us, hiding the passes we would eventually reach, and the contrast between those snowy clouds, the green hillsides, and the far brown and gray mountain slopes was deep and almost transcendental. the valley through which we rode was lush in its moist springtime posture, and the cool, damp air we breathed filled me with delight.
as we climbed into the mountains my head swiveled back and forth, taking in the dense pines, the rocky crags, and soon, the remaining fingers of snow that had yet to release their crystalline grip on the ground beneath.
the road would twist and wind, then switch back on itself, and as we reached the summit of Coal Bank Pass, the air was 35 degrees and the world lazily stretched itself out in front of us as we gazed upon hundreds of miles of a topographical wonderland.

this country is astoundingly gorgeous.

the descent from that pass and the climb to the next led us past a river gorge far, far below the road, and we watched water thrusting itself from hillsides and over rock faces, rushing and gushing along a narrow channel that threw white froth up upon itself over and over, and over.

snaking down the winding road from the final pass into silverton was pure joy, as the crisp air rushed past and the road rose up to meet us and carry us to the end, into the narrow and concise valley that is home to this small town at the end of the railroad line. I sighed with relief and the thrill of having made it, and with delight for the experience of having ridden through such a stretch of God's obvious bounty.

and tomorrow, perhaps, I will write about that railroad line and the distinctly different path the train takes from the road we rode.

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