Black Canyon, Brown Sands: Day 7

We had hoped to spend the day in Taos, but after reviewing New Mexico’s travel restrictions we decided not to go. Individuals traveling to New Mexico from states deemed high-risk based on COVID-positivity rates were required to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of their entry into New Mexico or for the duration of their stay in the state, whichever was shorter. Instead, we opted for an afternoon hike to Zapata Falls.

We thought it would be best to begin our trek on full stomachs, so we drove into Alamosa for lunch at Calvillo’s Mexican Restaurant. The tacos and enchiladas were excellent — fresh, tasty, and authentic. After Horsefly Brewing Company, where we had lunch in Montrose on Day 4, this was the second time we had a sit-down meal at a restaurant since we went into lock-down on March 18. In both instances, patrons were appropriately spaced and waitstaff properly masked. We’ll see how we feel 14 days from now.

In the same way the internet commentary overstated the Black Canyon’s rim-to-river trek, it understated the journey to Zapata Falls. “Like most waterfalls, you have to work a bit to reach the prize.” “Don’t let the sound of the hike discourage you — it’s a fun adventure and the waterfall is only a half mile from the parking lot.” “Once you get to the trailhead, it’s a simple jaunt.”

Knowing that we can’t believe everything we read on the internet, we forged ahead. But we suspected we were in trouble when even the sign at the beginning of the trail said it was a “short but arduous hike” to the falls. “Arduous” doesn’t begin to capture the experience. Perhaps it would have been better to say “laborious,” or “grueling,” or “formidable,” or any number of other synonyms.

But hiking to “Colorado’s Hidden Gem” was only half the fun. The sign at the park entrance warning of a “Rough Road” was a harbinger of things to come. Without exaggeration, it was possibly the most jarring, cringe-worthy, seemingly endless three miles of “rough road” we have ever driven on. We honestly thought we were going to do terrible damage to our truck and to ourselves as we jostled about on a minefield of large rocks and small boulders looking like a couple of inflatable tube air dancers in front of a used car dealership.

To be sure, the falls added an exclamation point to the adventure. To reach them, we had to wade through a shallow cold-water stream, clambering over slick rocks and boulders along the way. But the few moments we spent gazing up at the falls, feeling their icy spray on our faces, made us forget the effort it took to get there — and that we would have an equally arduous trek and rough-road drive to get back.

Without question, this was the most unexpectedly memorable and adventurous part of our trip.

Upon returning to Cloud 9, we began preparing for our Date Night dinner: ribeye steak, potato medallions, and a pepper medley all grilled to perfection and accompanied by our favorite Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel. Then, we started watching the Netflix series, Chef’s Table: BBQ.