There are three primary routes from the Denver area to Durango. I-70 west to Hwy 550 and then south at 430 miles. Hwy 285 to Hwy 50, over Monarch Pass to Hwy 550 and then south at 400 miles. And Hwy 285 south to Hwy 160 and then west at 370 miles – or even I-25 south to Hwy 160. I’ve driven the first two routes. Not all the way to Durango necessarily because I’ve yet to actually drive into that town. I hiked in as part of my epic 2011 Colorado Trail adventure. I’ve driven as far as Molas Pass via Highways 50 and 550. In the fall, I believe it offers the most vivid view of the turning Aspen. I’ve driven the Hwy 160 route all the way to Pagosa Springs. It’s the shortest route, but there is a brutally flat section near the Great Sand Dunes that puts me to sleep. And there is no more beautiful drive in the world than along the Million Dollar Hwy in the fall. This refers to the 25 mile section of Hwy 550 between Ouray and Silverton.
So that settles my trip planning then, I’m driving to Durango this Friday via Hwy 285 over Monarch Pass and through Ouray and Silverton. I do still need directions to Rob’s house. Next is laundry and packing. Which leads me to think about another key planning topic – what to wear. Weather forecast looks good. A snow storm will be north of Colorado this weekend. Durango will be sunny with a low of 32°, warming up to 58° with 7 mph winds on race day. Tell me that’s not perfect for running. Running tights might add to my comfort at the start but I suspect shorts are the way to go. I’ll wear a long sleeve, high-tech fabric shirt. I can start out with my light North Face jacket and store it later in my running vest. Gloves and hat. I’ll likely have more than one hat – beginning with a fleece skull cap and switch to my Boulder Marathon hat once the sun warms up. I’ll pack more gear than this to be prepared. You can’t trust weather reports in the mountains.