Published: March 28th 2011March 28th 2011
After waking up after a really good night under the stars, there was no rush to breakfast and then pack and load up, as we were heading into Durango for a spot of breakfast, whilst Becca was taking to hospital. She had picked up some altitude sickness in the previous couple of days, and wasn’t feeling any better. As a nurse, Tanya insisted on going with her, so after dropping us of at a restaurant Todd tooks the two to hospital.
Whilst taking in one of the games of the day’s World Cup action we had a break from the norm and had a decent breakfast before walking along the main stretch of the town to the post office where our lift would be meeting us.
As a stop of whilst Todd returned to pick up Becca and Tanya, we were taking to a Durango mountain resort called Purgatory!
Sadly Zoe’s hip wasn’t any better, and was forced to stay at the bottom to either watch or walk around the shops in the resort.
Graham, Jess, Neal, G and Mark decided to go on a hike, whilst Sarah, Kylie, Scott and I headed up an old rickety chair lift, which
Sarah insisted on making more difficult for me, by shaking it a little. The main pole holding the chairs was held together by duct tape for crying out loud – which I did! Awaiting us at the top was the start of an alpine slide. When Sarah and I reached the top, we were just in time to see Kylie and Scott set off in their race.
As we placed ourselves and our sledges on the track, one instruction was to not turn into any of the corners, but to keep your body central. As we set off, I was leading, but after the first big bend, I’m wasn't. I’d fallen spectacularly and slid on my arse and right elbow for about 10 yards! My Indy hat was underneath and bore the brunt of my arse sliding. When I came to a complete stop, I quickly headed back onto my sledge and carried on, worried that the next person may be on their way already.
Having comfortably lost the race, I finally met the others at the bottom, who were laughing at my predicament. After returning the sledges, we checked out my injuries. Three burns on my right knee, one
bad one on my elbow, and even a small burn on my right shoulder, even though it was covered by my shirt.
At first it didn’t hurt, but as soon as we started walking back to the resort plaza, the pain was becoming evident. I found a toilet to try and clean the wounds, and after buying a tee shirt which advertised that “I do my own stunts!” I headed to the reception/ticket booth of the resort to ask where the first aid area was. The response was that there wasn’t one, and they gave me two small packages to self-heal myself.
At a bar back up the stairs called the Bear Bar, Sarah and Zoe picked an area each and applied the iodine and bandages to the wounds whilst the drinks were ordered. When I show my wounds to the bar staff, straight away they asked ‘Alpine slide?’, which made me think that I’m not the first, or the last, person to fall foul of the slide. I was about to ask them which beer they recommended to get over the accident, but instead they insisted on giving me a free local beer to lick my wounds with. It
wass called Loggers, a Mexican ale apparently. Whatever it was, it tasted damn good, that I get another.
Todd then called me to advise that he had collected Becca and Tanya and would be soon back with us, so I had to round everyone up ready to head off as soon as they did turn up. When he did appear, and saw me badly bandaged up, he wondered if I needed a trip to hospital. Sadly this wasn’t my first accident of the Tour, and everyone else is started to think that I may be curse, and maybe that I was going to keep having accidents for the whole 9 weeks. I sincerely hope not!
We set off for a town called Silverton – a Victorian mining town – which sadly involved climbing some more mountains and more winding roads, which didn’t help Becca, or anyone else. This State was determined to make it uncomfortable for us. We actually climbed to over 10,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains.
No sooner than we reach Silverton than we drive right through it and beyond up some more mountain roads – these ones were less paved and stonier – to the old
ghost town of Animas Forks. The ten minute dirt track leading to the ghost town was a little edgy and slightly heart stopping in places, so much so that we had to ditch the trailer at an area that opened up. Whilst there we headed to a waterfall hiding inside the mountain side, before we carried on. We were held up by a rescue team coming down the same track we were about to head up coming back with an injured person. The ambulance that was at the site with us was too big to head beyond its current position. Despite this we carried on, with the trailer, which we were informed shouldn’t be left behind. As we carried on, we came close to the edge once or twice, and even had to come to an almost complete stop to pass some other places. Whilst we do we spotted loads of little fella, which we found out much later were actually marmots.
We finally made it to the ghost town, which was at 11,200 feet above sea level, and as we had a look at the deserted buildings and the surrounding landscape of the mountains, I spotted some people on
quad bikes and motor bikes on another part of the town across the small valley that separated us, watching us. I even saw a small truck slowly heading down one hell of a steep hill on a nearby mountainside. I was fearing it coming down the tragic way, but it didn’t thankfully. There was also a 4x4 truck a little further back, which I’m sure followed us up, but went right at a fork in the road.
As we walked around still, the truck came down from its ledge and parked up behind our van. The officers asked me if I was the Tour leader, and I tried to calmly advise that I wasn't, but couldn't pinpoint Todd to tell them he was. Maybe it was the Indy hat that made me look in charge!
When they do talk to Todd, it turned out that we actually needed a permit to come up to the site. It is an equivalent of a Grade 2 listed landmark in the UK. It’s a historic landmark. Neither Todd, nor Trek seemed to know this though. We were the first Trek group to come up here, but also the last as well!
Briscoe and his partner were really friendly about it all and soon afterwards we headed back down.
Whilst that was happening I made the mistake of running down to the toilet (which is a hole in the ground with a roof!) which was only 200 yards away, but at the altitude we were at, was just a bad thing to do. I was struggling for breath after getting there, and I still had to get back up the hill to the van!
At those altitudes a lot more water was needed to cope, which Todd kept reminding us. He did not want another trip to hospital on this Tour. Neither did we!
When we reached the bottom, we quickly stopped off in Silverton to allow people to have a look around, but I stay in the van with Becca, Scott and a couple of others. I was that lazy that I asked Todd to move the parked van a few feet further up just so I could take a picture of the Silverton post office sign. It just looked like a historic sign that needed to be captured on camera!
We soon left Silverton behind, and carried on with
the long and winding roads through the Rockies, to our next site in Ouray – a KOA! By now, Jess, Kylie and I were showing signs of sturggling with the trip, but manage to hold on.
Group A was cooking, and we were trying a Sumi Japanese curry. The site had a Jacuzzi area set in small wooden decking. Graham managed to persuade Sumi to allow him to leave cooking early to join Jess and Neal in the Jacuzzi, whilst I was left to stir the mild and spicy curries at the same time. To be fair, that was left to do for the meal.
Over dinner, Todd went over our options for when we reach Moab in the next few days. The place offers so many different activities from horse riding to hiking and Hummer tours, but these do need to be booked up in advance. Afterwards the rest of the evening was ours, which I spent updating the journal over the past few days, whilst some others played another one of Graham’s card games. Sleeping that night with these injuries was going to be interesting.