Return to Mancos

Dan and I had a great time in Durango. We went to a pub, each had a flight of beer, and talked about what had happened in our lives since we’d last met. In the morning, I headed back to Mancos to meet up with Jeff, who had generously offered to show me around.

Jeff and I had a cup of coffee and then hopped in his vehicle to tour the area. He showed me some houses around Mancos and Cortez, and we chatted about home values and climate patterns. Cortez is on average the warmest, Mancos second, and Dolores third. This is as you come into lower elevations and away from the mountains the terrain becomes desert. Jeff says sometimes cold air will flow down through the canyons, cooling down Mancos or Delores. Jeff has lived in both Mancos and Delores. He prefers the Delores climate, but the rent and property value tend to be higher there.

Stopping in Delores we grabbed some food at the local market. Surprisingly there were many healthy options at the Delores market. The staff were friendly as well. We ate at a park by the river, continuing our conversation.

McPhee Reservoir (Delores behind distant cliffs to the right)

We then drove up to the ruins of Escalalente Pueblo above McPhee Reservoir and the town of Delores. Jeff says there used to be a couple of small towns down where the reservoir is, before they flooded it. From where we stood at the top of the hill we could just catch sight of the road leading into Delores across the reservoir and off to our right. Delores itself was hidden behind the cliffs.

Escalante Pueblo

It’s easy to see why the native tribes built on this hilltop long ago - from the top of the hill they have a 360 degree view of the surrounding valleys. The centerpiece of the ruins is a deep cyllinder cut into the earth and lined with stones. This would seem to be a central gathering place, well protected within the belly of the hill. I imagined scouts on the outside which could warn of any unwanted visitors, or the passage of wild herds.

Escalante Pueblo Information

We dropped by Summit Lake for a quick peak. Beautiful lake, frequented by local fisherman.

Summit Lake

We ended our tour back at Jeff’s place in Mancos. Jeff said I would probably enjoy camping up near the Transfer Campground. On OpenSignal I saw that I should have cell signal there, so I figured I might be able to stay there a few days. I hopped in my rig and headed up the road. Scrub brush turned into pines as I climbed in elevation. 15 minutes was all it took to get up there, the road skirting a canyon off to the right. I explored a bit, driving along the ridge to a lookout point, then coming back to a “box canyon” trailhead. I hiked a little ways down that, but it was a steep descent and the sun was setting. I didn’t want to be caught down in the canyon. I came back down the road less than a half mile and arrived at a beautiful meadow surrounded by trees. From where I parked, I walked not more than 50 feet to a place overlooking the canyon below, with the trees framing Mount Hesparus in the distance. I did my evening qigong as I watched the light move into shades of orange on the distant peak.

Hesparus Mountain Hesparus Mountain

The next morning I packed up and headed back into Mancos. The cell signal reported on OpenSignal had been overly optimistic, at least for my carrier. I had a little bit of signal when I was right on the road, but not enough to call or send texts, much less get any data. I had a meditation livestream I needed to tune into, so the search for signal began. In Mancos I called Jeff to see what he was up to. He was going for a hike that day. He recommended that I drop by the library for their free WiFi. I’m glad I did! The library turned out to have a beautifully stewarded garden in back, along the Mancos River, and I sat there on a bench tuning into the stream. While I was meditating, the attendees of some kind of nature hike came into the garden behind me. The facilitator led some morning movement and yoga to kick off their day. I thought it was a wonderful compliment to my meditation, and found myself smiling and appreciating that it was happening here in Mancos. As they walked past me back to the bridge and across the river where they had parked, the facilitator said “Sorry for disturbing you,” but I was too deep in a blissful trance to respond. Blessings, whoever you are! Pleasure to share the space with you.

It was about noon when I finished at the library, and about 5 other folks with their laptops had moved in at the tables around the outside. Popular place! I dropped by the bakery for a breakfast wrap and a coffee, and went across the street to eat by the river at some conveniently located picnic benches.

Next stop was Delores. I was hoping to meet some friends at the Wednesday market, and maybe explore the area together. I came to the park where the market was held, put my devices charging in the car and did some qigong routines under a tree while some merchants were setting up their wares. One husband and wife I began chatting with and learned that they live in Cornville Arizona. Small world! They had also spent a number of summers traveling around the western United States, and they approved of my journey.

I came back to my car, checked my text messages, and learned that none of my friends would be able to make it. Oh well! I decided to head up the 145 and explore.

Brandon Mason avatar
Brandon Mason
Brandon looks at the world with wonder, curiosity, compassion, and creativity. He is interested in the different perspectives that we as human beings hold, and finding ways to co-exist and co-create our future.
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