On a hiking adventure, you never know what you’re missing until it’s gone (water that is)…

Rebecca, Sonja (me), and LuAnn (Rebecca’s Mom, who’s had double knee replacement surgery!) set out on an 89-degree day in Pagosa Springs, CO to hike the West Fork and Rainbow Trail. [Update: If you plan on going, make sure the area is open, it was hit by fires in 2015, and watch out for weather.]

Flower on a hikeWe passed through the first mile of the trail bordered by signs warning us that we were surrounded by private property. Then on to a deep green forest, and great views of the San Juan river, at times far below us and at others close-at-hand.  The many river crossings and water flowing over the trail offered plenty of wildflower sightings including monkshood, geraniums, roses, and more.

 

 

 

Waterfall!

Close to five miles into the hike we spied a waterfall off to our right, it was extremely inviting. The turn off isn’t marked, but our guide, Rebecca, having been here before for a work crew, knew the trail to our right would take us to the falls. The turn off to our left would take us down to the hot springs. There was no way we were going to visit the hot springs today! The trek up to the waterfall was worth it to find such a beautiful and cool location on a hot day.

all-109Close to five miles into the hike we spied a waterfall off to our right, it was extremely inviting. The turn off isn’t marked, but our guide, Rebecca, having been here before for a work crew, knew the trail to our right would take us to the falls. The turn off to our left would take us down to the hot springs. There was no way we were going to visit the hot springs today! The trek up to the waterfall was worth it to find such a beautiful and cool location on a hot day.

We broke out our lunches and soaked our feet in the cold water.  We had packed grapes and having cold, sweet grapes in the middle of a hot day of hiking is officially awesome!

Hike continues uphill

Then we were off again to continue up the trail. After about a mile the trail takes a decidedly grueling turn as it goes up to the top of a mountain. It was here that LuAnn decided to hang by the river, but let us know she was running low on water.

Having suffered from heat stroke once (a whole other story!), I was definitely a little worried. Plus, we had no water purification tablets or a filter, so we couldn’t risk taking water from the many sources around us. But the sun was too high in the sky yet, making it too hot to start back.  So, Rebecca headed up to the top of the mountain so she could reminisce about her weeks spent working on that trail.  I went up about half-way, taking time to enjoy the view and taking copious photos.

Cool hike back down

By the time we got back to LuAnn, she was waiting for us in the shade, clouds were building and creating a cooler atmosphere and a breeze was blowing. I carry extra hydration from my previous experiences so I gave LuAnn a bottle of Gatorade and we all headed back.

By the time we were 2 miles from the end of our hike we were all out of liquids. Luckily, the cool air helped us all stay more comfortable and we arrived in fine health to our car. Our first stop was an ice cream shop for plenty of drinks!

all-065So, please don’t forget to bring plenty of hydration on your hiking trip. Consider the temperature for the day, how long of a hike you’ll be taking, and your own particular needs. For example, once someone has heat stroke, they are more susceptible to it in the future. Since I’ve suffered from heat stroke, I make sure to hydrate fully and use a hydration bladder because I’m more likely to drink from my hydration bladder, than to stop and drink from a bottle.  I also carry extra bottles of Gatorade.

The Details:

  • From Pagosa Springs, take 160 East.  Turn left onto West Fork Road #168.  Continue on #168 to the Trail Head parking.
  • Here’s a google map.
  • There are latrines at the parking lot.
  • There is a parking fee.
  • The trail is moderate to difficult.

Have fun!

 

Hello, I’m Sonja Dewing. I’m a Writing Professional: Technical, business, and Instructional Writing, as well as a Freelance Writer for magazines and newspapers. If you need a writer, drop me a line.