September 17th, 2019
Riding bikes around South Fork
Distance in miles: about 5 with the aid of wheels.
We need a break after these hard stretches through the San Juans so we take a zero in South Fork. This little collection of buildings that barely registers as a town, on the way to Wolf Creek Ski area and Durango, has become one of my favorite trails towns. I’ll outline some of the reasons why.
For starters, this is where Lisa (Peru) lives, the lady that gave me a ride to Lordsburg, NM back in April. She’s unfortunately out of town right now but there’s another trail angel, Karla, who leads the town in welcoming hikers. She’s worked out deals at several hotels and RV parks and also got 6 bikes donated for hikers to use. She put Relentless up in her cabin when he was making his way north from NM and also gave him a ride all the way to Steamboat. Karla is one dedicated trail angel!
We’re able to find pretty cheap accommodation in the form of a cabin at the Chinook RV park. Many of the cabins date back to when the sawmill was established in the late 1800’s…they housed the workers.
Our cabin is title the Rustic and has a couch, bed, chairs, tables, electricity, a microwave, and space heater. Other cabins have private bathrooms and kitchenettes. They call ours a camping cabin but to us it’s a luxury just to have a dry, warm space, especially after a day of walking in the freezing rain. It’s also the most charismatic place I’ve stayed this trip, given its age and cozy decor. The RV park has a shower and laundry house, so we’re able to get cleaned up.
We go to breakfast at a place called Fat Carls (named after the resident cat), which is inside the Spruce Lodge. I eat a pretty big plate of eggs, bacon, and ham. Next we work on getting 2 of the loaner bikes. The town is pretty spread out and the bikes will help tremendously in getting our chores done.
But first we have to go about a mile to where the bikes are stored. Relentless decides to try to hitch but before we can even stick out our thumbs, we give a look to a passing truck and the lady just pulls over. Our hitching karma is so good we can just use telepathy….like I said, Jedi-mind-tricks.
The lovely driver, Vickie, owns a gift shop and has been a part of the town most of her life. She’s even on the town board. She drops us off at the RV park and invites us to come visit her shop later. Another lady, Joyce Ann, owner of the RV park, meets us to give us the bikes. Her husband is the Mayor of South Fork. Already I feel like I’ve met half the town folk. Small Colorado towns, it’s hard to beat em.
The bikes are really nice and new Scott mountain bikes but they don’t come with locks so we’ll have to take turns shopping while someone stands guard. We resupply and then I head to the library to work on my blog. The town library is amazing…big and new. They let me use one of their computers for hours.
On the way back to the cabin, I stop at Vickie’s gift shop. I’m not much into souvenir shopping but I buy some stickers and candy. Vickie is there and offers to give us a ride up to the pass the next morning…so nice of her!
Afterwards, Karla drops by the cabin to visit and it’s great to finally meet her. I was originally going to get a ride with her to New Mexico but her plans changed, so she gave me Lisa’s number instead. It worked out well since I got to meet both of them this way.
Lastly, we head to Mountain Pizza and Taproom for dinner, the second night in a row. The place has a woodfire oven and a self-serve tap system with 16 beers and 4 wines. You just pour what and how much you want while a little sensor keeps track of your amount by the ounce. It’s pretty intriguing. I buy a whole $5 worth of beer while sampling several…I’m not a big drinker anymore.
So that’s my exciting day in South Fork. I feel ready to take on the last of the San Juans and finally get back to New Mexico. Next stop, Cha, Cha, Cha, Chama!