Sunday, April 16, 2017

Southwest: Zapata Falls & Montville Nature Trail

We went to the park again, this time starting with Zapata Falls, which is just outside the park. The guides we consulted warned that although the hike to the falls is only a half mile, it's fairly steep (a bit under 200 vertical feet over the half mile hike, starting at around 9070 feet above sea level, and ending at above 9260 feet), but it really wasn't that bad. The guides also warned that to get to the falls, you need to cross a stream that at some times of year can be treacherous. It was pretty tame for us, though. But what none of the guides mentioned was that the dirt road to the trailhead was 3.4 miles of really, really rough terrain. It took us about 20 minutes of slow driving in our rental crossover to make it to the parking lot. If we had rented a sedan, I'm not sure we would have made it!

Here's a view from mid-hike.

Here's the stream we crossed to get to the falls.

On the other side of the stream, there was still snow.

Inside the "cave" (Sigrid protested that the so-called cave is open to the sky above), the falls were running, but there was still a lot of ice.

The final bit to the falls themselves was too icy and steep for us, but some other managed to get up. Getting down, however, was a bit trickier.

Outside again, we saw a pair of bighorn sheep—mother and child, it seems.

We also saw a bazillion butterflies.

After Zapata Falls, we went back into the park, this time checking out the Montville Nature Trail.

View of the dunes from the nature trail.

The boys then finished up their junior ranger books, and took the junior ranger oath again. Here are their patches and badges for Bandelier and the Great Sand Dunes.

And one last look at the dunes.

Our last dinner in Alamosa came from Locavores. Actually, all of our dinners in Alamosa came from Locavores. I think Locavores is part of the "fast casual" segment—not quite fast food, but not sit-down like the casual dining segment. But it offered fresh, healthy food, and that was what we wanted.

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