Birthday #70 on the Cumbres & Toltec

October 7-17, 2023

What a difference a day makes! The day after our train ride was overcast, blustery and bitterly cold.

Milagros Coffee House

Time to get back on the road. But first, a visit to the Milagros Coffee House in Alamosa. We couldn't help but notice that although Alamosa has a similar income level and population, its downtown is about three times the size of Silver City.

rock hopping

We drove in winds gusting to 50 mph all day. A ham radio buddy suggested we check out Zapata Falls on our way to Great Sand Dunes.

Zapata Falls

The waterfall is tucked into a narrow, twisting slot canyon.

waterfall in a slot canyon

It's about 30 feet tall, and thunderous!

It was a short hike with a remarkable ROI!

The mood at the dunes was decidedly dark and brooding!

in the dunes

A quick pano before the light went away.

walking toward the dunes

The sun came out briefly after dinner, but the wind was still howling.

in the dunes

There would be no big hike in the dunes on this trip.

14er with fall color

There are a half dozen peaks in the +13,000-foot range to the north and east of the park.

A morning hike to the Dunes Overlook.

colorful narrow leaf cottonwoods

We were fascinated by the golden foliage on trees with bark like a cottonwood, but elongated leaves. And that's how we learned about Narrow-Leaf Cottonwoods!

snow in the mountains

Snow in the mountains! It was time to turn around and head south.

colorful sunset

Colorful sunset near Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

The Rio Grande Gorge

We wedged ourselves into the last spot at Big Arsenic. It was too cold to hike down to the river, but the views were inspiring!

Madeleine in Blue

The overnight low was 23, with winds gusting to 35 mpg. It was a good night to tunnel under the sleeping bags and watch old movies to distract from the violent rocking.

bighorn sheep grazing

On the way out of the park, we encountered a herd of a half dozen Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep!

bighorn sheep close-up Panasonic

They were unimpressed by us, and calmly continued grazing while we snapped dozens of photos.

bighorn sheep close-up Nikon

$3000 vs $500 camera.

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