The Highest Road In North America
The Hidden Gem
It was 6:10 AM. I got up and made my typical half pot of French Roast mixed with Denver Blend from beans I just ground. I sat in front of the computer a bit to see the latest musings on Advrider, the Yahoo Tiger group and to check the weather. 42°F it was as I was contemplating what to wear.
Putting on my black Triumph t-shirt, then my turtle neck, I heard little En-Dog coughing and not feeling well. I continued with my thermals and the rest of the usual garb. For a moment I wondered if I could sneak out without waking the little guy. By the time I was ready, he was up. So it was off to the medicine chest for Tylenol and Sudafed. Poor guy. I hate it when he is sick, and I was just hoping he was OK to leave behind as the wife likes to sleep in a bit on Sunday. Mrs. En-Dog was sleeping, but not for long. I shuttled little En into Mama's bed & told her that I just gave him meds and he will sleep in here. She knew I was going. I wanted to do this trip for a few days now. Both of them got kisses then I turned off the coffee pot, and headed outside to the garage.
"On the eighth day, God created heated grips."
A bit brisk you might say but not freezing. I got the ole Black Cat out and fired her up. I wanted to leave at sun up so I was right on time. Left the house at 7:10 AM.
Not too many cages out early on a Sunday. Pretty easy run though town as I headed West across Hampden Avenue which turns into highway 285. I went north to Morrison then up some nice twisties till I ended up in Evergreen at 8:00 AM.
Yep, that's what it says, 10°F. I was banking on my calculations that the temperature would pretty much stay the same until I got to Mt. Evans. I figured that the temperature would increase 10°F per hour and it would be 10°F cooler every 2000' in elevation. That being said, if my starting point was 6000' and it was going to take me and hour and a half to get to Evergreen which is 1500' higher, then it should be 42°F when I get there. Right? WRONG! So much for my math.
The second part of my altitude/temperature to time ratio equation factored in a stop to let things heat up. My next stretch was going to take me above 13,000' so I thought I better let the sun take over while I have some of the best sausage and eggs at the Wildflower in Evergreen.
I was thinking of letting it warm up even more a spend some time taking a class, but they were closed. So I opted for putting my thin Olympia gloves into my bag, and pulled out my new Tour Master gloves. Ah, now that's more like it!
Just down a few doors is the historic Little Bear. Willie Nelson and select other hick types perform in there. I checked the bank sign on the way out. It was already up to 26° at 8:30AM.
North from Evergreen to Bergen Park is where the turn off to Mt. Evans is. Nice twisties up through this section, but not today. Main objective, KEEP WARM.
One of the little things I like about the Tiger are these nice mirrors.
I would guess I am near 10,000' here. The Aspen's are starting to turn.
Nice view off to the North.
The Black Cat feels good being out in the cold.
Here is the first glimpse of the Summit.
Yet another view to the North on my way to the turn-off.
My math was starting to play catch up as the temperature at this point was 30°F. Just a 1/2 mile up is the entrance. I shut off the bike so I could pay my $1.50. My alarm went off 30 seconds later and freaked both me and the elderly lady working the booth. She looked me me with wide-open eyes and asked if it was an alarm. I wanted to say something smart, but I decided to play it nice.
One other thing my forecasting math did not account for was wind. Let me tell you, it was windy. I think the technical term for it is, "really damn windy." As soon as I got above the trees, you can see everywhere and there is nothing stopping the wind. Did I mention that it was windy?
The toll was only $1.50 because the road was closed at Summit Lake. Thats 5 miless short of the top. I guess I missed it by a week or so as they got a pretty good snow then and the road is icy in spots. I guess I am lucky I got this far as some years the whole road is closed by now.
If you have never had the privalege of being above timber line, you must find a way to see it. Its almost a spirtual experience as everything feels different. The air is thin and cold. The wind has no sound of rushing through the trees. The earth is covered in tundra which looks different than any other grasses or plant life. In Colorado you have to get above 10,500 to get above the trees. Here, I am still at least 1000' below the summit so my guess its about 13,000'.
The road passed the water there is closed. Maybe next spring...
On the way down. Views to the East.
And to the North West.
About half way down the road to Bergen Park, I took a dirt road called Winter Gulch road. It took me to Upper Bear Creek which is West of Evergreen. Upper Bear Creek is where Willie Nelson had that nice big house that he sold to the IRS.
As I drove through town, I noticed that a whole group of Harley-Hicks were already lined up at the Little Bear. I guess after a 30 minute ride they have to stop and through back a bunch of cheap American beer so they can stand to ride their hawgs back down the hill to their trailers.
Time to put away the Tour Master's and get out the thin gloves. 11:30AM.
The rest of the ride was just plain old relaxing. The warm air was welcome as I approached 6,000. Getting closer to home, it was nice thinking about the things that I value. My family, my work, my reasonably good health and my toys. I am glad I am learning that even small things can make me happy. This trip was no 5 week trip across Canada to Alaska, this was a 5 hour trip that helped me relax as if I was gone 5 days. As I was getting ready to pull into my driveway to the right, I looked up at the mountains. Then a chill went down my spine. I, for the first time noticed that the peak you see at the end of my road is Mt. Evans. The Hidden Gem was there the whole time as we have lived here for four years. It was just today that I found it.
Way cool. Thanks for the write up and pics...
Here is what the road to the top looked like three weeks ago.
You got a great day to ride.
:clap BRAVO :clap
Great pics!! I can really feel that mountain air......
Re: The Highest Road In North America
is that the Federal building in the center?
man I love Mt. Evans, the road, summer skiing, and snow storms on july 4.
btw its the highest paved road in NA
Great pix and a good looking bike.
You're not missing a glove are ya?
Did you buy your bike at Foothills?
BTW I know that's the highest PAVED road in the US... is there a higher nonpaved road?
I have a picture from 20 years ago of me sitting on my 1980 Suzuki GS750 taking in the sunset on top of Evans.
I worked at the Toyota dealership on Havana Street and there were four of us that rode to Evans at least once a week after work for some stress relief. Thanks for the pics, I have many good memories of that incredible place.
Thanks for the vicarious "day (way) off".:super
Great report, great photos!
I really like this one..
BTW, my neighbor rode a Bultaco to the top of 14,433 Mt. Elbert (highest peak in Colorado) 40 years ago, but it was on a path.
Superb trip report/pics EnduroDog! Bravo. I ride the area often and had my GS up there on an early evening ride as the sun was setting. Practically all alone up there...
killer ride, killer report.
Re: The Highest Road In North America
AHHHHH, wrong pic, and similtanous posts, thank god it wasnt porn I actually posted.
it was these chutes, fking collegeextremeskiingmythactinglikeatotalretarddaze .
your highest road arguement makes sense, I just remember that as the claim to fame of the road.
Nice day for a ride to the top of the world (as you know it).
Great pictures too!
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