Minor Adventures 1: Durango and Silverton
We arrived in town on the last weekend of the ski season. This could be construed as good or bad timing, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, the guys at work encouraged me to go north into Colorado ASAP, before the melt begins in earnest. First stop: Durango, 1 hour’s drive.
Turns out Farmington is to Durango what Boulder is to Kalgoorlie (i.e. the poor cousin). Durango is teaming with cute, colourful houses and cosy restaurants. It’s at the base of the Rockies, and a number of professional bike riders live there due to its proximity to some excellent training grounds. It’s quite stunning.
The naming of the Rockies is not accidental – there are huge boulders everywhere, as well as many that might be called small rocks by local standards (anything less than one metre diameter). As a result, ski season starts later and finishes earlier than elsewhere, as there needs to be enough snow to cover the rocks to prevent injury. So, even though the ski season was wrapped up, there was certainly plenty of snow to go around.
We kept going over the mountains, passing 3300 metres in places. We passed dozens of people out enjoying the clear(ish) weather – riding bikes up insanely steep slopes, riding their snow mobiles over untouched white expanses with what seemed like reckless abandon to us, the uninitiated. Apparently those snow mobiles can be quite the death trap – not because they roll, but because they’re a lot of fun at night and people frequently decapitate themselves on barbed wire fences they fail to spot at 40 miles an hour in the dark.
The drive was exciting, not just because it was inevitably hair-raising with its sheer drops and dramatic switch-backs, but because it SNOWED! We actually got to see real snow, falling from the sky. I’ve never actually been snowed on before, so of course we had to get out and touch it… for about two seconds, which is how long it took for the snow to melt through my non-waterproof shoes. Poor planning, I know.
As we rounded the last corner, we were treated to a magical view of Silverton, which sits in a valley. Much like Farmington (used to be a Farming Town), Silverton used to be a Silver Town. You can visit the mines – being in the mining industry, we thought we’d probably seen enough of that.
We saw the snow closing in from the north side, and decided we’d better turn our four cylinder Chevy around and head back, lest we suddenly need snow tyres (which, of course, we didn’t have). Back to the desert for us.