Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cinders and Aspens

Today was my favorite part of the trip thus far.  It was a great way to end our first of three weeks galavanting around the southwest.  I awed and oohed over the caverns and enjoyed the view from Guadalupe Peak.  However, today's train ride quickly rose to the top of the list for best of this trip.  We arrived in Durango yesterday, pleased again to have even colder weather.

We woke up early today to catch our train from Durango, CO to Silverton, CO 45 miles north.  The train has been running this route since the early 1880's (I'm not sure if it was 1881 or 1882).  The built the track in 9 months, including building the steepest part in the dead of winter.  The owner apparently burned the records of the cost (and lives lost) to keep the outrageous number from his investors, so the story goes. The Best Man and I opted for the open air car. We were able to enjoy the weather (and flying cinders and smoke) and take unobscured pictures.

The views were absolutely stunning.  We sat on the right side of the car after reading tips suggesting to do so.  The tracks followed the Animas River up the mountain, with the river to the right for much of the trip.   The river waters were greenish-blue, which is a nice contrast to the brown rivers we were used to in Fort Worth and in Richmond.  While we were still leaving town we saw a doe and a buck running along side the tracks.  We weren't quick enough to snap a picture.

As the little train began to climb higher and higher into the mountains we noticed the famed aspen trees were starting to turn yellow.  The higher in elevation we went, the more yellow aspen trees we saw.  It was beautiful.  I can only imagine what it will look like in 2-3 weeks time.

Once in Silverton, we had lunch and walked around the shops.  The town has around 600 residents, only 200 of which stay for the winter. Silverton was once a mining town.  Silver and gold mining were the reason the town existed.  With the mining over, the town now relies on tourism.

Instead of taking the (slow 3.5 hour) train back to Durango, we opted for the bus tour (1.5 hours).  Our guide, Lester, told of the towns history and showed us landmarks.  The views were again breathtaking on the ride down the mountain.  I saw three doe just as we started down the mountain on the bus.  I was on the look out for other wildlife, however we didn't see anything other than birds and marmot (is the plural marmots?).

Overall, despite the cinders in my hair and my now sooty running shoes, I had a wonderful day and now have a love affair with Colorado.  Too bad The Best Man says it gets too cold to ever live here.

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