August 14, 2013

Monsoon on the Conejos (2): Platoro y Yo

Platoro, Colorado. The bands of light at right are windshield reflections.
With the Conejos River running high and turbid, I decided to travel upstream. That meant Rio Grande Forest Road 520, which might be described as a pretty good road — if you were in Afghanistan.

Mile after pothole'd mile crept by. I would stop now and then and check the river. Still roily.

Eventually we reached the resort hamlet of Platoro (plata plus oro — weren't those early miners clever?) which always makes me think of what the Alaskan bush might look like (having never visited Alaska) — dense forest, a straggle of modest frame and log buildings, thick willows along the river.

The old lodge, currently bearing the name Sky Line Lodge, is classic, but right now its owners cannot decide whether it is a grocery store or a fly shop and so fall between two stools. (It and I make an unflattering appearance in Ed Engle's memoir Seasonal: A Life Outside. That's what happens when you hang around writers.) A UPS driver was making a delivery, and the shelves of his van were empty. Platoro is the end of the line.

The inlet to Platoro Reservoir, managed by BuRec for flood control, etc. It's quite low right now.
Above Platoro is Platoro Reservoir, and we continued past it to the Three Forks area, at the edge of the South San Juan Wilderness Area, where the stream was clearer, and I got into a few small trout while playing peekaboo with a herd of cows in the dense willows.

Rain clouds build above Platoro Reservoir.
And then it was time for the afternoon deluge, plus hail. Too much driving time versus fishing time.

(to be continued)

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