Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Salida, CO - St Elmo Ghost Town

On Sunday we decided to drive to Colorado's Original Ghost Town - St Elmo. Its one of several in the area, but the others require 4-wheel drive. The valley was sunny, but you could see the snow falling over the mountains. We headed up anyway. Along the way we passed by the Chalk Cliffs. They're not really made up of chalk, but of kaolinite, a soft rock that percolates from hot springs. Yes, there are hot springs in the area. We stopped by the Princton Hot Springs on the way in - like many they have a soaking pool (90's) and a lap pool (80's), but this place also had hot water piped into the adjoining creek. There were little rock pools built to contain the hot water. So eventhough you were in a natural, cold creek you were sitting in hot water. A very neat setting. Thought we would hit the place on the way back down from St Elmo.

When we stopped to take a short hike to a waterfall, we realized that the weather is schizophrenic. On the way up the trail the wind and snow were blowing. On the way down it had stopped. But the waterfall was pretty and the hike was worth it.

We continued the rest of the 16 miles up the road to St Elmo. Half of which was dirt. Its a neat ghost town with about 20 or so buildings from the 1880's. We believe the lace curtains and the peeling wallpaper may be original. It is now privately owned and the Historical Society is trying to make repairs so we weren't able to go inside any buildings. But the buildings are all in quite good shape and it was neat to walk around. A mini-blizzard kicked in, we slipped around on the ice, and the only current resident had a fire going in their wood-stove - all adding to the ambiance of walking the streets of an old-west ghost town.

We couldn't stay too long since the snow was lying quickly. Good thing our car is an all-wheel drive!

As we went down in elevation the snow turned to rain. We decided to skip the Hot Springs and head into town for a late lunch and a microbrew instead. Just a different way of warming up, right? And, as we got into the dry, desert valley - nothing - no rain, no snow. But not a whole lot warmer, either. Now, why is this called the Banana Belt?


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