Pagosa Springs and the burning brakes
We didn’t end up making it up the Dunes the following day. Based on weather we opted to hit the road and make for the 4 corners, where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado all meet, pledging to return to Colorado on our way back North. There is so much more we want to see and explore there.
We fueled up in Alamoso, the last big stop before venturing back into the mountains. Next stop Pagosa Springs. On the way there we would climb 3000 feet quickly, and proceed to drop and another 3000 feet in equally short order. At the summit of that pass, Wolf Creek ski hill, seemed to barely have enough snow to be open, but it was enough to attract hundreds of skiers, boarders, snowshoe hikers and the sled crowd. Everyone has been saying this is an unseasonable winter, warm and short on snowfall. And it shows everywhere. We were at 10,300 feet at the summit of the pass and yet any slope not facing North was dry and free of the winter white.
The majority of our elevation drop came in the first 5 miles from the summit. As we began our descent we spotted a sign stating that emergency run off lanes were at 3.5 miles down and 5 miles down for the second one. After the first mile or so and being on the brakes the whole way I made a comment to Angela about the distance to the run-offs. Imagine being 2 miles down this windy highway bobsled course, being unable to control your speed and somehow having to make it another 1.5 miles! At about 4 miles we found out a bit what that feeling would be like. I felt my brakes beginning to fade. I cranked up the trailer brake controller, geared down, and looked to the sky when we spotted a view point pull-off. By the time we came to a stop outside the parking lot you could smell the brakes and see the smoke billowing past us. Yikes! The overconfident looky-loo in me was too busy taking in the scenery and subsequently quietly panicking to realize I had, in fact, turned the trailer brakes down, not up. The front brakes on the truck essentially bore the brunt of all 12000lbs of our home and motor. One thing is for certain, that is a mistake I will NEVER make again. 30 minutes off cool down time for the truck brakes and my nerves later, and following 7-8 brakes checks on the trailer for good measure, we continued our descent into the flat valley below. Pagosa Springs has a brewery. You can bet we stopped there after that luge run. A quick beer, some fries, and free wi-fi was just what we needed. We found a little RV park just outside of town with laundry (my underwear needed cleaning) and showers. It was getting to the point we couldn’t just smell each other, but ourselves too; it was time.