Cinnamon Pass Picture of the Week

So, I cheated on September’s subject. By that I mean that Archie and I didn’t drive on these roads, they weren’t just casual side roads—you had to want to go on them, and they weren’t even in Arizona. Let me explain, and I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

August is the time for our annual retreat from the heat. By then we’re in the middle of the muggy monsoon, and we have to find respite in a cooler place—even if it’s Utah. This time we decided to spend a couple of weeks with our friends, the Poteets. Fred and Deb have been working as camp hosts in Colorado and Minnesota for several years, so we dragged The Ritz to cool off in the 6500’ mountain air of Durango.

When we got there, the first thing Fred wanted to do was “… hop in my FJ and drive over some of Colorado’s famous mountain passes.” I thought he meant driving some highway over the Continental divide, but nooo. He was talking about driving the prospector roads in the San Juan Mountains. He bought the Toyota earlier this year and hadn’t yet put it through its paces. He swears the FJ badge on it stands for Fred’s Jeep, and he wanted someone to go and test it on what barely passes for roads. Now I know what Deb meant when she pulled me aside on arrival and said, “Tag, you’re it.”

Our adventure centered on the ghost town of Animas Forks, which is a dozen miles northeast of Silverton and at over 11,000’. We spent an entire afternoon driving over mountain passes that would look down on Mount Humphries—the highest mountain peak in Arizona. The so-called roads were one-lane gravel mule trails cut into the mountainsides. They had impossible grades, and often, the windshield view was just clouded sky. Many times the gravel was replaced with bedrock and the truck would tip precariously—always to my side, and I’d be looking in horror over the edge, and I’d quote something that Queen Anne has said many times to me, “<imagine a woman’s voice screaming>.” Then there were the switchbacks. “We’ll have to turn around,” I’d suggest in a high squeaky voice. Fred would answer with, “Here, let me put it in low range,” then he’d push some lever, and the FJ would claw its way further up the hill.

In all, we spent four or five hours above 12,000 feet and crossing four passes. When you’re at that altitude, a 13,000-foot mountain isn’t so much, so we’d get out and climb on foot to its summit for a pee. I’m glad that Fred remembered to set the brake because, with my luck, we’d be standing on a mountain top watching his truck roll backward into the valley three thousand feet below.

After we got back into Silverton, we stopped so Fred could put air back into the tires. “20 pounds is the minimum to keep the tire from separating from the wheel, but the ride is better.” He then asked if I’d like to do more mountain four-wheelin’. After thinking for a moment, and being the manly man that I am, I told him, “Only if I can bring a box of Depends along so I can change my shorts.”

Cinnamon Pass
Cinnamon Pass crosses over the mountain of the same name at 12,640 ft. That’s well above the timberline in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

This week’s featured image was taken at the first of the four passes that we visited—Cinnamon Pass. When we got there, we got out, kicked at the dirt, and looked around with our hands in our pockets—it was cold up there. After shooting a couple of shots, I told Fred that I was going to climb up a roadside knoll to see if there was a better shot. On top, I found out there was because I saw the little alpine lake hidden from the road. As I hiked back down to the truck, I told Fred what I had found so he could see the pretty little lake.

You can see a larger version Cinnamon Pass on its Web Page by clicking here. Be sure to come back next week when we’ll show another photo from Fred and Jim’s exciting mountain outing.

Until next time — jw

Discover more from On the road with Jim

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading