Durango, it's one of those mystic places that seems to be on everybody's bucket list. The center of Durango is definitely old west ski town, with more micro brews and bike shops than you can count on both hands. And, It has charm.
For day one we picked easy trails to help us work thru the 7200' altitude adjustment. Apparently, it takes more than one day to acclimate to oxygen deprivation, as I was sucking air before we got out of the parking lot. Perhaps it was time to reevaluate that monster ridge climb we had planned.
These were typical high dessert trails; hard packed clay with a layer of loose rock on top to keep things interesting. The trails wove around the low scrub and usually went straight up and down the fall line to accentuate elevation change. The trail designer would occasionally divert the trail to cross over a rock outcropping. We liked those for the increased pucker factor.
We rode the Horse Gulch Loop, which is one of nearly a dozen trail system accessible from town. Unfortunately, trail signs were few, and local maps only listed a small percentage of the trails we actually found while exploring. Maintenance doesn't seem to be a priority here, so if erosion complicates a fall line section, people just seem to move to one side and ride that. Some of the trails seemed to lack forethought, and no formal construction. I guess if enough people ride a line, it becomes a trail.
Milage > 45
Elevation gain > 4000'
Sooner or later it had to happen, a trail without bikes. This morning we toured cliff dwellings in the Masa Verde National Park. On the paths to the indian dwellings, the guys were picking the best lines down the hiking trails, and Marty was picking the best rocks for her expanding collection. Oh, and the 12th century buildings were cool, assuming you were part monkey. It's no surprise this tribe was never attacked. All they had to do was pull in the ladders and no raiding party had a chance.
Ok, enough with the history lesson, let's go get the bikes.
Back to Durango after a morning visiting Indian cliff dwellings. Today we hit a bundle of trails starting in town and climbing west into the hills. There must be a half dozen named (signed) trails, all less than a mile long. Connecting those are a dozen or more nameless trails that have been ridden in as opposed to being designed and built. Most were narrow to nonexistent bench cuts across steep slopes covered with loose shale. After grinding straight up and skidding straight down, we decided to bail. Unfortunately, the signage was so poor we couldn't find our way back to the cars. The ride turned out being longer than we wanted. Once again our GPS saved the day.