Here I had been a bit worried that I was too late in the Fall Color season, and that I had arrived past the peak of the Aspens and other deciduous trees turning the marvelous yellows, gold and sometimes reds. Turns out, I was right on time.
The day started a bit later than planned, I was asked by a couple next to my campsite if I could help load the man's Vulcan 1700 cc Cruiser onto the back of a U-Haul trailer. Apparently, the man had hurt his left foot in the camp ground and couldn't ride it.
After waiting for some more help, three of us managed to roll the motorcycle to the wooden ramp that had been placed at the edge of the door. After some discussion, the owner rode it up, bad foot and all and it was swiftly tied down. All is well there, they're going home to AZ today.
So that ate up an hour and I didn't leave the camp ground till close to 8AM. I skipped breakfast and worse of all, Coffee, in my rush to get north of Durango and see what there was to see.
Bottom Line Up Front: BLUF: Wow, it was incredible the amount of color on the hillsides and mountainsides all along my route today. There were times when my forward progress was measure in tenths of miles as I would come up to yet another grand viewing of Fall Colors!
To give you an idea, the ride to Silverton usually takes less than two hours. Today it took me four. After I while, I went into beauty overload and stopped much less frequently. Still wound up taking 330 photographs which I whittled down to 48. There were a lot of dupes as I was shooting each scene four times: one in auto mode, then with 0.3 underexposure, 0.7 and 1.0 or a full F-Stop. Depending on the light, it wasn't always the same setting that worked out best.
Here's a link to the last time I was on this route, shooting Fall Scenery: LINK
I think this is Twilight Peak above
There were a lot more cagers and leaf peepers around today than I seem to recall from last year. Also, a lot of construction causing delays as traffic was funneled down one lane while the other direction waited their turn. It was really bad at the spot in the below picture, we sat parked for almost thirty minutes, with no traffic moving in either direction.
This is usually one of my favorite portions of this road, but no way to stop today for pictures.
I did not dally in Ouray, electing to skip lunch in order to do the San Juan Skyway route by heading towards Ridgway and then to Telluride and points south.
bowl in the center of the mountains above
Rock formation for which Lizard Head Pass is named
The upper half of the San Juan Skyway was also as dazzlingly colorful and almost as beautiful in terms of Fall coloring as the Million Dollar Highway. It's gently twisting roads following several rivers as they course along.
I was over-saturated by all the Fall Color beauty I'd seen previously and didn't stop at all until I reached Cortez, CO. This is where I picked up US160 again and took it east past the Mesa Verde National Park, Mancos where I gassed up again and from there to Durango.
Slightly over 300 kilometers, and almost twelve hours in the saddle. I am one tired puppy tonight.
I hope you enjoy the photos.