We met some wonderful local folk that happily directed us to notable trails in the surrounding area. The other people patronizing our hotel were from the Denver area and visited Silverton at least two or three times a year. We joined them for a hike.
On the Colorado Trail.
To a vantage point that looked down to the valley 1,600 feet below in which the train from Silverton to Durango runs its course.
There was also a nice waterfall.
And beautiful mountains.
At the recommendation of Megan, fellow runner and owner of Silverton's coffeeshop, we headed to Durango that afternoon for our run. The run took us up Animas City Mountain which looked down over the city and the Animas River (seen below). The route was about 6 miles round trip and gained 1,600 feet of elevation.
We jumped for joy when we made it to the top!
Where we were greeted by a Horned Toad.
From Durango we made our way down to Mesa Verde National Park, as seen below.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and sunset from on top of the Mesa. In the morning we visited the, legen-, I hope you're not lactose intolerant... -dairy Cliff Dwellings (The Cliff Palace is seen below).
A knowledgeable tour guide described the construction process and known tidbits of the culture of the area's original inhabitants.
It was cool to see this piece of history up close and personal.
We even got to go down into one of the Kivas...
On our way off the plateau, we saw a coyote... I mistook it for Luna.
We made our way to the Kaibab Plateau to finish our journey to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We went on a run on the Arizona Trail, an 800 mile trail across Arizona, which crosses the Grand Canyon on its way to the Mexico border.
The woods were beautiful, full of Aspen and Ponderosa Pines.
Some of which were quite large...
Afterwards we made our way into Grand Canyon National Park.
Grand is an understatement... But really, the North Rim was truly spectacular. I cannot recommend highly enough how sensational it is to visit this place. In just a few days we saw nearly 40 miles of trails on the plateau, including a trip several miles down the North Kaibab Trail (which ultimately reaches the South Rim).
We had a delightful time working and playing on the edge of the ditch but ultimately decided that there was a better opportunity out there for us for various reasons...
The housing situation was a little run-down...(Serious exaggeration, but great picture)
We worked to the brink of exhaustion. (Serious exaggeration, but great picture)
So we made a U-Turn... (Not actually the route we took)
As we drove away from the North Rim, we noticed some runners at the top of the North Kaibab Trail. We asked if they needed any aid, and we dished out water to a few. One of the people completing the 44 mile Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim was Gordy Ainsleigh, who is more or less the father of trail ultramarathon racing in the United States. It was also a pleasure to meet Vanessaruns and Scarpy?, Scrapy?, not Scratchy... of San Diego.
We didn't want to travel back the same way that we came, so we shot up through Utah. Where we had the pleasure of seeing this mountain goat! We were fortunate to have our binoculars handy, which did far more justice to this majestic mammal than did our camera...
We set up camp in Fishlake National Forest, just in time to catch the rising of the Supermoon, the brightest moon of 2012. It looked absolutely brilliant as it came up over the mountain and flooded our cozy valley with light.
The drive continued. We stopped for lunch on the Colorado River outside of Grand Junction, CO.
We set up camp in White River National Forest up around 9,000 feet. We cooked dinner over a roaring fire and slept like royalty. The air breathes well for us here in Colorado, which brings me to some explaining that I have to do...
You were living and working on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and you left?! We will inevitably hear this exclamation/question, and we will inevitably ask it ourselves at some point, I'm sure.
But the fact of the matter is, when we passed through Leadville, CO a couple of weeks ago, the stars seemed to align. We, coincidentally, met some extraordinarily wonderful people, who were interested in us becoming part of the team at their local coffeeshop, City on a Hill. We changed our minds several times about where we may see ourselves thriving, but in the end it was beyond question that Leadville is the place for us to be.
So here we are, a few hours away, driving into a most comfortable uncertainty. We know that we have good jobs and great friends awaiting us there, and plenty more to be made. We don't know if we'll be there for 6 months or 6 years, its just too soon to tell. But we've thrown ourselves into an adventure of a lifetime and, through faith and prayer, will embrace everything that comes our way as this next chapter in our life unfolds.