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Desert Fix

By Ann Driggers

With the exception of a couple of trips to the dentist and dropping friends off at the airport, it has been almost four months since I've left the valley. The winter turned out a lot different than expected with poor snow conditions but still it seemed to fly by what with working hard, being sick and spring coming early. As soon as the temperatures started to rise and enthusiasm for winter sports faded, I've been jonesing for the desert. Finally I got a weekend away and my desert fix.

We headed south and west, deep into some of the most remote and isolated country in Colorado, surrounding the Dolores river. Our goal was to get in some exercise but the emphasis being on soaking up the sun and chillaxing in the stunning red rock scenery.

Sunrise hits Dolores Point:

Chilly mornings quickly morphed into warm days of endless sunshine and bluebird. The desert is starting to bloom, peppered with vivid paintbrush, delicate sand penstemons, cliff rose, loco weed and many others. Leaves are starting to unfurl, the bright green of chockcherry, currants and box elder offsets the grey of the pungant sagebrush. Spring in the desert is an assault on the senses.

The Hanging Flume of the Dolores River, the largest in the world and an incredible feat of (crazy, greedy) mankind, taking water 7 miles along the sheer walls  to a gold mine. All that is left:

Along the Dolores River crews were hard at work removing the infestation of the now dead tamarisk plant. The sound of chainsaws echoed on the canyon walls as ravens soared high above.

Above the confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers we were able to climb down to see remnants of the flume. The stark contrast between dam controlled waters and those from natural snow melt is evident.

The confluence also afforded one of the most stellar beer drinking spots I have found, necessitating an early start and late end to happy hour.

Colorful company:

Late afternoon we moved onto a place to camp. We had our pick, thankfully, though not far in distance, this was a world apart from the Moab masses we were keen to avoid. As dusk fell we watched a condor wheel about the sandstone towers high above and we lit a fire to ward off the nightime chill.

Another day dawns bright and clear. Time to dust off the bikes.

Gateway has some good singletrack, not a ton of it but plenty to keep one amused for a couple of hours, which was all we needed since it was the first time out on the singlespeeds since last fall.

Well if one must have a mechanical, best to find a scenic spot.

Considering an upgrade on transportation? You're going to need many more zeros on that paycheck...

Back home, I'm happy with my desert fix, though holding out hope for at least one decent snowstorm to close out the season. Maybe next weekend....the forecast is looking good.

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