Late yesterday evening I saw a pika just outside the cabin, sitting on a little rock carefully surveying us. That was the first pika we'd seen at the cabin. Generally they need a talus slope for drying hay and storing it, so there must be one nearby that we'd not spotted...
Our drive today took us first on the paved (“smooth side up”, according to Debbie) roads from Silverton to the north through Ouray to Ridgway, from there to Norwood and Naturita, and then to the Utah highway that runs south of the La Sal Mountains. Then we turned onto rougher roads, up the Upper Two Mile road and over the 10,000 ft La Sal Pass, then down into Pack Creek where we rejoined paved roads and drove into Moab. We're staying here for two nights at the Red Cliffs Lodge, where we have a beautiful room that overlooks the Colorado River and the gorgeous scenery of its canyon (photo below).
The road over La Sal Pass was very easy up the south side to the pass, but far, far rougher than we remembered on the north side. The rough stuff was a little disconcerting as the FJ is reconfigured for a road trip, with the interior packed to the ceiling and all the self-recovery gear in the rooftop bag. Poor Race was going bonkers as we bounced around on large pieces of talus and scraped the bottom on others. Eventually he calmed down, but we're not sure if that's because he's gotten over the offroading phobia he developed halfway through this trip, or because we broke him :) In any case, the drive was very pretty and brought back fond memories of trips we made between 20 and 30 years ago to this region.
What initially brought us here all those years ago was Pack Creek Ranch, a privately owned ranch that rented out rude stone cabins and provided fine meals at a captive restaurant. That business folded in the mid-'90s, and we stopped coming here for lack of any place to stay that we'd like. Recently we heard that the Pack Creek Ranch was back in business, but there were two web sites (here and here), which really confused us. So today we stopped by there to find out directly what the heck was going on. We met a nice couple who, it turns out, are acting as the caretaker for the ten cabins there. They bought one of the cabins and they live there. The other nine cabins were purchased by various people, some were refurbished, and now all are offered for rent. However, between the nine people they're using 2 different management companies (hence the two different web sites) – one manages five cabins, the other manages four. The Gate House cabin that we used to rent, we found out, had been refurbished to “posh” status. We're going to look into coming out here for the fall color, which is spectacular in the La Sals...
After arriving at our lodge, we unpacked for our two day stay and headed into Moab for dinner at an old favorite restaurant: Buck's Grill House. Debbie had a Caesar salad and a gigantic sirloin steak; I had corn chowder and bajio. The whole thing was simply outstanding. We are so full we can barely move. Debbie ordered a chocolate terrine for desert that was also outstanding, but 90% of which is now in our refrigerator because both of us were too full to have more than a nibble...
|Miki, venturing into the waters on his own volition – which still amazes us...|
|On the way up the south side of La Sal Pass. Note the profusion of lavender asters in the meadow...|
|Lavender asters that are currently dominating the meadows in the La Sal Mountains...|
|Coming down the north side of La Sal Pass, looking about north east at Moab's valley...|
|The Colorado River Canyon, as seen tonight from our lodge room...|