Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 6 - Falls by the wayside

View Day 6 pictures

Today was Piedra Falls day. Piedra Falls is the remotest of our hiking destinations. You head up Piedra Road until the pavement becomes gravel. Then down the gravel until it becomes a dirt road. Then down the dirt road (East Toner Road) until it ends. The 8 miles down East Toner Road takes 20-30 minutes. It's one lane and twists around like crazy. They state very clearly that you SHOULD NOT drive this road when wet.

(FYI - the Day 5 and Day 6 pictures have a little map on the lower left hand side - if you click on the map - we placed some of the pictures on the map where they were taken. The Falls pictures show you where it is, exactly)

On Friday - as we stopped in the Visitor Center - there was a printed email saying that East Toner Road had road construction and was impassable after a certain point (what would you expect with a one-lane road?). They said you could still hike to the falls but had to park before the road construction and detour around it (through the woods). They also said construction was supposed to be finished by June 20th.

We took a chance that it was finished and barreled/inched/carefully negotiated down East Toner Road. No worries - the construction was finished. Though it was obvious what they needed to fix. The road had basically been eliminated for about 50 feet (made its way down the hillside with the spring thaw). So they rebuilt it - pretty neat to see their reconstruction. Felt sturdy to us!

That said - we made it to the trailhead / end of the road just fine. As expected - the water is flowing bountifully. Parts of the trail were a little muddy too - which just added to the excitement. This hike is great - a variety of terrain and obstacles - and such a wonderful reward at the end (the falls).

Piedra Falls is a double falls - with an upper and a lower portion. You have to climb out a bit on rocks to see both falls - but its worth it. There are so many great vantage points for viewing and thing trees/rocks/paths to climb on. We usually spend more time at the falls than getting there (at least hiking there). And there are many great photo opportunities.

Last time we posed some nice pictures on a log below the falls - but this time it was surrounded by flowing water. No worries - there were many other photo spots. The mist kicked up by the increased water flow made some really neat rainbow effects that we noticed and caught on camera. The only downside was that you had to be in the mist to get the picture - so the camera got a little shower (thank goodness it didn't zap us).

Many people of all ages were enjoying this sight today. When we returned to the parking lot (if you can call a sandy rocky space that) there were lots of cars, trucks and otherwise.

There's an area about 1/2 mile before you get to the trailhead where the water comes tumbling down when it rains. Sometimes it washes out and is very rocky. But thankfully they've leveled it out so vehicles with any clearance can make it over it.

After enjoying this hike thoroughly - we headed back to town and stopped at the Pagosa Brewery Co. It's a micro-brewery that was started in 2006. We'd read about their root beer and wanted to get some for lunch with our grilled hamburgers. Sadly - they only serve the rootbeer in-house because they make it in small batches daily. They don't want to get cleaned out all at once. So the boys had root beers in-house - and we put in an order for 32 oz take-out tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

We headed downtown in the evening to smell and touch the "stinky waters" that are the Pagosa Springs. We also did a little souvenier shopping. Found our favorite shirt store had moved farther down the block (again) - but it's still around (Wild Rose Shirt Shop).

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