The next stop for the WINs was Hooper, CO. There's not much in town here, but we're parked at a hot springs just north of town, the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool. No, this is not our pool, it's just for the very friendly ducks.
No matter what time of day, they come running as soon as you step out of your rig.
The pools were wonderful, but even if you don't like hot springs, it's worth it to come here just for the food. It was voted the best concession stand in Colorado, and I would have to agree. We came for dinner one evening, and I had some delicious coconut shrimp.
One day a few of us went on a hike to Penitente Canyon. It's a world class rock climbing area, but this day we had it all to ourselves.
Years ago, Penitente Canyon served as a refuge for the Penitente Brotherhood of Catholic monks. The Brothers, Spanish and Indian men of deep faith, lived secluded in the canyons of the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains in order to practice their religion freely.
A short way up the canyon is a painting of the Virgin Guadalupe.
It was painted in the mid-20th century by a member of the Penitente Brotherhood, suspended from above in a tire.
The lichen on the rocks in the canyon is just beautiful!
And the "rockpeckers" have been busy.
After going through the canyon, we climbed up to the plateau following some extremely large cairns.
We did a loop on the plateau, and then tried to find some wagon ruts we had read were here.
Could this be it?
Marvin finally found the deep ruts. As early as the 1850s, Hispanic settlers used "carretas" to gather wood for houses, fuel, and fences. Pulled by oxen, these small carts could maneuver over rugged terrain.