South Fork, and Creede, CO

On Wolf Creek Pass:

July 6, 2015

I woke up for the second day in a row in Durango, a wonderful feeling. Although I was ready to get on my bike and ride farther into our trip, it is hard to ignore the trains as they depart for the day.

There is something about the low moaning tones of the steam locomotives as they leave, a visceral feeling that tears at an intangible inside me. There is sadness for me in leaving the beloved engines, their cries a deep melancholy that echoes off the mountains surrounding Durango.

After the last train left, Hal and I walked over to Durango Bagel, near the train station, for a quick breakfast. We were in no hurry, however, since we knew we weren’t going that far, and we enjoyed our last few hours in Durango.

Something I’ve noticed about the people working in Durango is that they are all friendly and happy. The very nice young woman in the bagel shop reminded me of that thought that I’ve had more than once while in Durango. I think it’s because they live in or near Durango. 😉

We left town around 11 o’clock and took Hwy. 160 out of town toward Pagosa Springs. Signs threatened construction ahead, and even included the dreaded “Motorcycles use extreme caution” sign that usually means we are going to be riding through mud, or deep gravel, whether we want to or not. This time, however, nothing out of the ordinary materialized; in fact, the road was smoother than it has ever been. It still was congested, though, as we came into Pagosa Springs, crawling through several cycles of the stoplight at the end of town, an exercise in balance and slow-speed patience. It didn’t take too long to get through town once through the light, and we stayed on the 160 headed toward South Fork, and Creede.

Classic Colorado riding:

Out there on the road, we began to see what I call “the real Colorado:” sky-high mountain peaks dabbed with lingering snow, well-paved twisting roads with clear creeks running exuberantly beside them, and thick forest surrounding us as we climbed to the summit. On the way to South Fork, we would go over Wolf Creek Pass, over 10,000 feet in elevation, the first high summit with my 2009 F650GS. We stopped and took photos there since we had to pull over anyway to put on more clothing layers.

Hal at Wolf Creek Pass:

It didn’t take long to fly down the mountain and get to South Fork. We skirted the town as we arrived, then continued northwest on Hwy. 149, to Creede.

We had been there before, during our very first motorcycle trip to Colorado in 2007, and liked it so much that we wanted to go back. There were so many parallelisms already on this trip to the one in 2007 – me on a new-to-me F650GS, a big traffic delay on our first day that made us late coming into Durango, and now our visit to South Fork and Creede.

We found Creede to be little changed, still charming and somewhat low-key. It is off the route most people take through Colorado, and so is mostly unspoiled by the presence of too many people. We parked our bikes, then walked up the street to the north end of town where the town ends abruptly, the road turns to dirt and disappears between the high walls of a deep canyon.

Then we walked back down to the shops and cafés and found a little place to grab some coffee and some fudge while we watched a young guy playing with a drone on the street in front of us. Very cool. He showed us some video footage of fireworks that he had shot with the drone on July 4th. I thought it was a clever way to capture celebratory fireworks, up in the sky amid the exploding colors.

Creede street view:

It was overcast and cool while we were there, as it had been the first time we visited Creede. After a while, we got back on the bikes for the short ride to South Fork, and we ran into rain as we rode. I thought then how that moment was like heaven – cool, rain, beautiful scenery as we rode alongside the Rio Grande, the bike running and feeling perfect under me. We returned to South Fork in pouring rain, to the rustic little lodge where we would be staying. It was cute, and promised free continental breakfast in the morning. Perfect!

Late in the afternoon, the rain quit and the sun made a brief appearance. Hal and I shot photos of some abandoned passenger rail cars on a siding nearby. It turned out to be a photographic “find,” and I will be sharing some of those IR photos soon on my photography blog.

Remains of train station (shot in 590nm IR):

We walked about a half-mile down the street for a dinner of lasagne at a pleasant restaurant. The clouds were hanging low and gathering again at sunset, and later, I fell into a restless sleep to the sound of rain pattering on the roof, a lovely, cozy sound.


Next: If it’s Tuesday, it must be Taos.


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