The Long and Winding Road to Silverton: Cruising to Colorado – Day Three

The morning light made its way through the flannel curtains in the camper shell. A new day had begun and we were ready to take on the hike to Zapata Falls bright and early.

Before making the trek, I made myself a cup of French press coffee and warmed some honey buns for Cody and I to enjoy in the cool morning air. For some reason food always seems to taste better when you’re in the great outdoors.

(Click on the following days to read more of my “Cruising to Colorado” series. Blog post: Day OneDay Two)

The Hike to the Falls

After breakfast, we dressed for the hike and drove the short distance to the Zapata Falls parking area. It must’ve been our day because the parking lot was almost empty (this could be the fact that it was a Monday morning). I think being able to hike a trail that is not congested with people makes the experience so much more special. It feels like it is just you and nature.

The hike to Zapata Falls is a little under 1 mile there and back, making it ideal for those who want a quick, scenic hike. Dogs are also allowed on this trail as long as they are on a leash. Someday, Cody and I want to bring our black lab, Coleman, with us and experience Colorado with our dog!

Starting on the trail the views of the sand dunes were at our back and Juniper trees surrounded the view in front of us. We occasionally stopped so we could look back and take in the amazing views. As we rose in elevation, Cody and I could feel how it affected us during the hike. We are both in our twenties and in good health, but when you are used to the low elevation in Oklahoma something like this can take you by surprise!

As we got closer to the falls, a creek was the only thing standing in the way of us and the prize. Not to mention several slippery rocks that had to be stepped on to cross the water. We were at the falls in early July so the water was bone-chilling cold. I won’t lie and say I’m a coordinated person; several times I felt like I was four times my age carefully walking through the water and on the rocks.


It was such a thrill though, the ice-cold water woke us both up and we were so excited to see the waterfall. To make the waterfall even more enticing, it is tucked into a small cave that you reach after walking through the shallow creek. The sound of rushing, falling water fills your ears when you reach the end. Walking around the corner in the cave a beautiful waterfall suddenly appears. Cody and I took it all in while mist was spraying on us. After soaking it all in, we retreated through the creek once again and back down to the parking lot.


Zapata Falls

The Journey to Molas Lake

From Zapata Falls, our destination was near Silverton at the Molas Lake Campground. By this time in the trip, the truck had been acting up, occasionally cutting out. Cody figured it had to do with the rise in elevation and the truck not having all the bells and whistles like a new car has . This made for quite the adventure. Picture windy roads with steep drop-offs and your vehicle cutting out whenever it pleases, nervous, yet?


I really felt for Cody. He is a great mechanic and several times we had to pull over and adjust the jets on the carburetor. He became quite the pro at doing this routine. Although the drive was a little stressful at times, the views were absolutely magnificent. The closer we got to Durango, the prettier it became. Lush, green forests and majestic mountains surrounded us.


After traveling through the most nerve-wracking part, which consisted of several ups and downs along with curvy roads that didn’t have guardrails, we finally reached Pagosa Springs–a much welcome sight.

We took in the sights of the charming town and chose to eat lunch at Kip’s Grill and Cantina. This restaurant was very popular with several people waiting to get a table. The atmosphere was just what we needed after the drive with ol’ red and the truck’s antics. I ordered shrimp tacos that had been marinated in a spicy sauce and topped with crunchy cabbage and a creamy lime sauce. I stole Cody’s avocados from his dish and topped my tacos with them. They were delicious!


When we finished eating lunch we thought we would take our time before hitting the road again so we drove around Pagosa Springs. Much to our surprise, I spotted a red Ford Courier that was like the one we were driving but a little lower and rougher. Cody was impressed that I found it (this being since I am not the expert on vehicles…believe me I was impressed with myself, too).

Ford Courier trucks aren’t all that common anymore so to spot one in Colorado in a random town was a great coincidence!


Cody with his Courier on the left and the mystery Courier on the right.

We eventually got back on our route and made our way to Durango. The road there led to more beautiful scenery. I loved seeing the livestock in the valleys, old barns on the side of the road along with the mountains and foliage.


Durango came soon enough with a minimal amount of trouble from the truck. We explored through some of the gift shops, stopping to buy two t-shirts. Eventually, the hubbub in Durango wore us out and we yearned to get to our peaceful campsite.


Entering the San Juan National Forest, headed to Molas Lake

The drive to Molas Lake proved to be a huge test for the Courier. I wish I had counted how many times we had to stop and adjust everything to see if it would help the truck’s performance. Thankfully, Cody and I stayed positive, for the most part. The scariest part for me was driving along roads that were narrow and felt like you could look out the window and see down the mountain.


The day dwindled away as we putted closer to the campground. The drive felt ten times longer than it should’ve been, yet Cody kept on in good spirits. After all, this was only another great story to tell when we got back home!

On our 124th (exaggerating, I know) pull over, a huge semi-truck with a covered trailer suddenly laid on its brakes and pulled over on the shoulder where we were. Cody and I looked at each other, our eyes as big as saucers. About every scary movie I had ever watched started replaying in my head. The trucker got out of his truck and walked over to us. He started making small talk while glancing at the truck. I thought for sure this guy wanted something from us.

Just to make things even sketchier, he had one hand in his pocket and we kept anticipating him to pull something out. After a few minutes of odd conversation that felt like an hour he wished us luck, got back in his truck and went on his way. Maybe it was us being tired along with being anxious to get to our campsite, but that experience sticks with us still. He was just a nice trucker who wanted to stop to see if we were okay. The assumptions the mind can spin when you are worn-out can be comical.

Finally, we reached Molas Lake Campground and checked in. The campground’s cute little check in cabin also sells an array of camping supplies. We made our way to our campsite and decided to sleep in the camper again instead of setting our tent up since it was late. Cody started a campfire and we finally winded down and reflected on our exciting day.


Molas Lake


One thought on “The Long and Winding Road to Silverton: Cruising to Colorado – Day Three

  1. Pingback: Adventures on the Alpine Loop: Cruising to Colorado – Day Six | A Walk in the Park

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