A Solo Flatlander Rides to Colorado With An F800GS to Find Some Snow!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by EnderTheX, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Thanks David! I wouldn't have it any other way... I know my bike is happiest when put to the test! :evil




    Day 3 continued...


    After getting back on 550 I made my way up to Silverton and towards US Basin (Co 14). This was one of the only routes I couldn't get info from the park rangers on. I really like this track and highly recommend it to anyone with a larger bike (or small bike!!) because the scenery and road is awesome!

    I glanced at the south entrance to Co 14 and didn't see anything so I kept going to the north entrance... which is almost directly across from the entrance to Black Bear Pass. I found a few dozers getting ready to clear some snow. You can see in the background the path is completely blocked with snow. After a few moments of quiet contemplation I headed back to find a camp site...


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    I started looking at the South Mineral Campground we had stayed in last year. I had hopes of returning to the same site and enjoying the campground... these hopes quickly faded as I saw many campers along the access road and when I arrived the host assured me there were no sites available :cry After a good chat about road conditions I headed out to find another spot...

    This picture is on the road to South Mineral
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    Last year we had visited a private campground at Molas lake just south of Silverton and I went to see if it was full. The host there is really cool and suggested a more remote site on top of a hill overlooking the lake. The fire ban was not yet in effect so I looked forward to using the fire pit that night!


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    #41
  2. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Getting some firewood was fun. I had a couple straps with me and my single bundle maxed out the length of the straps. I know the host must have chuckled as he collected my firewood bundle "this guy will never get all this on that bike!". I made it back to my hill without incident :D


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    This was a true mountain lake... I was camping at 10,500 feet! The sunset here is drawn out for at least two hours because the sun dips under the mountains and then finally the horizon. The fish were going CRAZY on the lake! I was kicking myself that I didn't bring a pole... A few fishermen around the lake were catching them hand over fist!

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    Later that night I had a raging fire going, I burned the entire bundle in a few hours... it got really cold towards midnight. Just before the last of the light dissipated I brought out the tripod and get a few fire pictures :evil

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    #42
  3. OTRATT

    OTRATT On The Road All The Time

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    Great pictures!
    Looking at your map, it looks like you went over Owl Creek Pass and down to Silver Jack Reservoir. Did you go down the dead end roads south of the lake?
    #43
  4. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    I did go over Owl Creek Pass, a bit of snow at the top! I was traveling a good bit on that day so I did not explore any alternate routes... Is there some good riding in that area?



    Day 4...

    This day I left my large pack at camp with the tent and started out to do the Alpine loop! First I had to get through Silverton and up to Animas Fork to start Engineer Pass. I have full length video of Engineer, Cinnamon and Ophir Pass so I will compile a series of videos to show the whole thing... along with highlights videos of course!!

    This is a quick video of me riding through Silverton that morning. I really like this town, lots of character and fun to explore!


    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/wgHJPzJH_HY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    :D
    #44
  5. OTRATT

    OTRATT On The Road All The Time

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    Of course, it's the San Juans!
    There is three short dead end roads that run along the creek bottoms in between the mountain ridges.
    #45
  6. CO-or-bust

    CO-or-bust Been here awhile

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    Ender, LOVIN' this RR!

    Had posted a thread back in the Spring looking for a little 'Rockies Local Knowledge' and it seemed like EVERYONE was telling me I had to wait til LATE July or even August because they had had over 400" of snow last Winter. So I'm curious --- even though you had to pass on a few Passes, it seems like you still had one Helluva good time, plenty of options, and looks like some great weather to boot... What were your typical day-time and night temperatures (once you beat the TX & NM heat) and what time-frame seems the best to you???

    My expected trip to 'rado looks like it'll have to wait until next year, but I am greatly encouraged by your RR that it looks like I can jump on it in June --- waiting almost another year is going to kill me --- maybe shaving off a month or two off of that wait makes it just a tad bit easier.

    Again, LOVIN' your report (and all of your RR's to-date...)! :clap:clap:clap
    #46
  7. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Thanks! :D With regards to the time schedule this year must be a special one with a late winter and now a super hot summer... I had a flexible schedule so I started out as early as I thought prudent (but probably could have gone a week earlier too). This early season trip was amazing and I highly recommend going early to Colorado!

    The snow tunnels and amazing views are spectacular (oh yeah... I haven't gotten to that part yet, will post more today!!!).

    The weather was absolutely fantastic!! It was around 70 degrees most of the day and comfortably chilly around 40 at night (with sleeping bag). A big difference from the late summer trip I took last year is the absence of constant rainstorms. Last year at the end of summer we were guaranteed rain at some point in the day and sometimes we tore down or put on rain gear more than 5 times in one day! Some parts of the trails are slightly wet from melting snow in the early season but still better than mostly wet from rain late...

    The safest way to go about it is to call the ranger stations for the region you are going to ride in. I have my Colorado Trails book (a 4x4 trails book but still good) and it lists many of the popular rides with useful info and ranger station contacts. I spent a few hours calling about 8 different stations and inquiring about the conditions. Most of the rangers were very helpful and knowledgeable of the area and plowing schedules.

    :freaky
    #47
  8. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    So last time I left off I was about to get out of Silverton and hit Engineer Pass from Animas Forks. This trip I am taking the easy approach since I am going solo and with a heavy bike I would recommend a riding buddy if you do the entrance to Engineer Pass from 550 south of Ouray.

    I am quite familiar with the road up to Animas Forks since we had traveled it several times last year. Luckily there is not much rain in the early season and it was dry and dusty... very fast too! After passing some annoying sightseeing Jeeps I made good time getting to the trail-head to set up the cameras.

    Once on the pass I started to get up close and personal with the snow I came to see! I had envisioned a much muddier and wet path because of the snow melt but my worries were eased when I saw dry trail and the cool snow melt tubes put in strategic places (to be seen later!).

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    Heading up Engineer Pass... I had left my larger bag with my tent so this is the one day I got to travel with a light load!

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    More snow and now the real fun part begins!!!

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    Looking back on the trail from one of the switchbacks... I can't describe how awesome it felt to be up here. The air was clean, bike was running well, I didn't have altitude sickness and the temperature was perfect! I never felt the need to get out my extra jacket, even at 13k feet I just had my t-shirt under my mesh riding jacket.

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    #48
  9. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Further up the trial I spotted a really cool snow tunnel and waited patiently for the Jeep to take pictures and move out. This is the same spot you can see in my original highlights video! You can see the dozers that cut this path had their work cut out for them in this spot!

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    The picture I took in the snow tunnel...

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    Soon after the bend you get to the Oh-point... a lookout area that is actually higher than the actual pass and quite scenic! Here I attempt to replicate a picture taken last year. this time with snow!

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    #49
  10. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Up at the top I took a while to soak it all in and adjust the cameras. Snowy mountain tops as far as the eye could see in any direction!

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    The Oh Point on my Garmin 276C. Love this GPS, it's bulletproof and easy to read even if you are bouncing along.

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    The trail in the background has fascinated me since we saw it last year. Even without the snow it looked in disrepair, possibly hiking only now. Oh yeah.. that's me in the picture too!

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    #50
  11. LittleWan

    LittleWan You can do it!

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    Hey Oliver!
    Sorry I'm late to the party - your RR's lookin' good, though! :thumb

    Fantastic video! Those HD go pro cameras are pretty awesome. It's really fun to see the road, close up. You're making me miss Colorado...

    Awww, and glad to see your cone kept you safe :D

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    Looking forward to more!
    :ear
    #51
  12. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Hi Kelly! I already miss Colorado myself... with some luck I will be back there in a month or so :clap

    The little GoPro cameras are awesome! With the dozens of hours of footage it is difficult to come up with highlights videos... :eek1

    I've been working on this video for several evenings, probably a solid 8-10 hours of sifting, editing, audio selections, etc. The more I learn about editing the longer it takes... I wish I had included more picture in picture than I did but that takes more than twice as long to finalize :huh


    Engineer Pass Highlights... Enjoy :strum


    (embeded at lower resolution, 720p recommended :D)

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/bJ3S5T0jy9c" allowfullscreen="" width="853" frameborder="0" height="510"></iframe>
    #52
  13. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Continuing down Engineer Pass... I adjust the cameras before going from the Oh Point to the pass. This is the position used to film some of the puddles and slow motion you see in the highlights video!

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    The bike at the pass. Strangely this point is 200 ft lower than the Oh Point!?

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    I took the picture of the cone that Kelly posted just earlier and then started back down.

    A huge snow bank was waiting directly below the pass!

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    #53
  14. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Lots of snow melt in the area, this cool waterfall was diving under a huge snow mound (probably formed from an avalanche).

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    The road to Lake City is very scenic and fast... easy for any dirt oriented bike!

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    Last year the water at the broken dam was lower and you could see a gaping hole.

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    Raging river!

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    Following the river, I flew down the road in search of good BBQ...


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    #54
  15. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    I prepared some full length helmet cam videos of Engineer Pass! I have all stops or pauses edited out for continuous riding footage. This starts from Animas Forks and goes over the pass on to the section on the way to Lake City (stops when it gets easy...)

    This is for anyone who wonders "Can I get my big adventure bike over Engineer Pass?" I will say it is doable for any serious adventure bike and lots of fun to climb your way up to 13000 ft (Oh Point)!!!

    There are three parts, total running time is 33 minutes :freaky


    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ogbWrsZlbHg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>




    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/P3xEavxkZJA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>



    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ahxLdf7zllQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #55
  16. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Going up Cinnamon Pass is always fun! The road leading to the pass from Lake City is long and windy with good views of a large lake and a fast dirt highway.

    Soon the going gets interesting and you shoot up the mountain. Here is the full length helmet cam videos of Cinnamon Pass on this ride! The video starts when the trail gets interesting on the Lake City side and stops at Animas Forks. I edited out any pauses so it is all continuous riding!


    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/g5XpO-HoPlE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/yEt7OFUd57s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #56
  17. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Closer to the top the storm clouds were swirling as usual and the light would occasionally shine enough to get a good pic!

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    There were several deep snow trenches carved through to the top.


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    I waited for a group of ATV riders to pass so I could get a clean shot of the bike. Even with the rapidly melting snow the trail was dry enough I never had any problems with mud or puddles. My pack was starting to get a bit sloppy but I decided to bounce along without worrying about it :D

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    #57
  18. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Finally at the top I stopped for a while to take some pics and relax. This is one of my favorite passes to chill at and enjoy the view. I ate a cliff bar while a brief rainstorm passed overhead before giving way to sunshine :clap


    This picture is looking towards Lake City

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    The view from the pass sign looking towards Silverton...


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    The way down the pass is very scenic and quick. After going through this snowbank you descend towards Animas forks on some rocky steep sections. Just make sure you have ABS turned off!

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    #58
  19. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Making my way back to Silverton I decide I have enough time to check out Ophir Pass. I had no plans to cross this pass during my trip but I wanted to do a quick over and back just to experience the view and see what kind of snow lurks at the peak!

    On the way up...

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    In view of Ophir Pass from the Silverton side, the snow looks promising!

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    Surely the plows carving these paths were piloted by expert mountain men! Some of the walls were well over 15 ft tall!

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    #59
  20. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    I couldn't find the sign for the pass but after searching a bit I saw a destroyed piece of metal tube sticking up in the general location. I wouldn't be surprised if they have to renew many of the pass signs every year because of snow damage.

    The view on the Ophir side of the pass was as spectacular as ever! I was glad to see the treacherous shelf road was devoid of snow :D


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    A slight haze hung over the valley and the town of Ophir seemed to rest peacefully in a secluded paradise.

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    I rode down the pass into the forest and back up again. I fumbled with the cameras a bit but failed to get the shot I really wanted... this gives me a new reason to go back and do it again!

    The way up the shelf road was surprisingly more difficult that I remembered from last year. Much of the loose rocks had not been packed down and there were a few tense moments (see the original highlights video at the end for the going up footage!)

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    #60