As most of you may know, we surprise each other every year with a weekend excursion to visit a town in Colorado that we have not previously toured.  This year’s responsibility belonged to Kara to surprise Nicolas; our trip was to the Salida/Poncha Springs region!

Despite having honeymooned in Gunnison (a mere 65 miles due west) and having been many times in the nearer Buena Vista (visiting the Coates’ family), we have not managed to explore the towns on our own.  The neat thing about this area is that there are many 14’ers (e.g. HUGE mountains), great off-road trails, and full groves of aspen trees already wearing their autumn dress.

The best route from Denver is US-285 down to US-50.  Arriving at Kenosha Pass, we stumbled upon a simple forest road that headed west of 285.  Since we were unable to do any off-roading this past summer, we took the opportunity to see what lay in the back woods, especially since Kenosha is well-known for its fall colors.  While it was gorgeous scenery, darkness soon crept upon us and still had over an hour drive to reach our destination.

Friday was the actual day of our anniversary, so we couldn’t not go out for dinner and a night on the town.  However, we arrived in Salida at 9 PM, and restaurants have already gone to bed by then!  The only thing open was the local grocery store.  So we grabbed some fancy meat, cheese, crackers, and olives then settled with a bottle of wine at the table in our hotel.  It wasn’t maybe the ideal dinner, but it certainly satisfied!

Saturday was a lazy, relaxing day.  We explored the Salida downtown area, enjoyed coffee at a local roastery, had a picnic lunch along the Arkansas River (with the same horderves from the previous night!), visited a local winery, did more off-roading (on class 1/2 trails) in the afternoon and finished the day with a 3-course dinner at a quaint Italian restaurant in Poncha Springs.

For Sunday, we felt that we had experienced enough of the town of Salida and the real gem of the day lay in the gold of the mountains.  Guess what we decided to do?  More off-roading!!  However, this time we wanted to kick it up a notch and do a class 3 trail on Tin Cup pass.

What we didn’t expect is to find the trail had class 4 spots, which are still easily navigable in Pearl but caution is still advised.  Our first challenge was getting beyond another vehicle that broke down in the middle of the trail almost at the summit.  Then there was a huge rock – we couldn’t around, only over it with just enough clearance not to do any serious damage.

After that we finally reached the summit.  Then we had to travel down a very, very rocky stretch downward to Mirror Lake.  Finally we reached smoother forest roads, taking us through the actual town of Tin Cup, beyond the high alpine Taylor Reservoir, and up-and-over Cottonwood Pass, which dropped us into Buena Vista!

It was a fantastic weekend.  Thank you Kara in planning the adventure!  If you reading this posting via email, please visit the blog to a slideshow of all pictures…..

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