Louisiana to Alaska on as much dirt as possible

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ejtv, May 27, 2011.

  1. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_0hBVR2wsDg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #41
  2. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Today we ride the Greenhorn Mountain area, then head southwest to Medano Pass and the Great Sand Dunes National Park, head back north to the southern section Rainbow Trail and begin our hike to Humbolt Peak.

    Leaving Ophir Campground:

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    our little friend here made our night a nightmare. The kittie was up all night walking and meowing and even crawled inside the motorhome through a screen door...

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    Heading to Greenhorn Mountain:

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    Greenhorn Mountain ahead with its flat top distinguishable from miles away:

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    Late breakfast of hot chocolate and cliff bars:

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    Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Medano Pass in the background:

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    We descended from Greenhorn on some of the many trails in the area:

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    It's steeper than it looks etc, etc,

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    There were simply too many trails to explore and so little time....Probably two days of full riding around here. We didn't see a soul.

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    Here we already crossed the valley between Greenhorn and the Sangre de Cristo's. Some of the trails we wanted to take for a more direct route to Medano Pass ended up being private roads, so we had to ride to Gardner first. Things start getting a little sandier:

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    We didn't take too many pictures on the way down; we were a bit nervous...already having been alerted as to how deep and dry the sand was and surprised about how deep the creek crossings were, the water being murky so we couldnt' tell the depth...and neither one of us was volunteering to walk them first....Re sand, our plan was to drop the gear as soon as things got nasty...

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    Which we did right around this corner with the sand dunes ahead:

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    By now we were exhausted, very low on fuel and hungry:

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    Adventure riding in the US sometimes has its benefits; food (great burgers here at the Oasis BTW):

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    and fuel:

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    A couple of months later flying from Salt Lake City to Dallas, I went right over Great Sand Dunes National Park and Medano Pass:

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    #42
  3. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    From Great Sand Dunes National Park over Medano Pass to the Rainbow Trail...Plan is to ride as much of it as we can or have time to without any gas stops, hotels, support, etc.

    After making it to Oasis for fuel, which was critical or else we were out of luck altogether, and :dg we were now concerned about having to trek uphill on the sand.

    But we made good progress by deflating the tires to about PSI of 12-14, which we should have done on the way down... :baldy, and by coming up with the rule better to crash than to stall...

    Here we are at the spot where we picked up all the gear we had dropped off looking west:

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    and looking east:

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    It was truly bizarre to come over the mountain pass among the pine trees to encounter these sand dunes. Highly recommended to anyone traveling with a light bike.

    We stopped here to get tires up to regular pressure.

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    We crossed Medano Creek half a dozen times:

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    Finally, over the pass and then heading north to catch the Rainbow Trail! Things started very pastoral

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    We took the road up Music Pass. These next two are at the TH for Music Pass:

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    This one back on the RT. Things got progressively more difficult but fun:

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    No question the gear was not making things easier. But the plan was to ride it unsupported yadi yadi yada...

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    With dusk approaching, we made it to South Colony Creek, the TH to three 14 thousanders in the area, including Humbolt Peak which we intended to hike. This is right after making it to the TH and before the hike.

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    We got our gear and tent on small backpacks. Plan was to hike and make it as close to South Colony Lakes as we could and set up a base camp. The trek up was a pain in the dark, and with rain about to come down, we set up camp near the old TH about 2.5 miles from where we had left the bikes.

    This is what it looked liked the next morning, getting the java ready:

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    #43
  4. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Greenhorn Mountain

    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/cfCVX15tf1Q?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #44
  5. DavidQ

    DavidQ We Don't Rent Pigs

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    Excellent report! It looks like a great route.:clap
    #45
  6. 2d2rick

    2d2rick Adventurer

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    I want to ride the Rainbow Trail complete from the Medano Pass to Monarch Pass. I am on an XR650R and have buddies riding WR450Rs. We need to know what you did for your gas/camping stops. Otherwise awesome ride report. I hope to be doing things like this with my kids in 10-13 years when they are old enough to ride on the road.
    #46
  7. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    We fueled at Canon City, then after playing around at Greenhorn Mountains, we refueled at Oasis at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. From there we could have made it the full length of the Rainbow Trail to Salida. Our WR's with extended tanks have 200 plus mile range.

    We camped at Lower Colony Lakes but this requires a hike. There are developed camping sites in a couple of locations along the RT but I personally prefer more remote places away from campers, cars, etc. Not sure about the regs, but there were plenty of good potential campsites along the RT on unimproved areas. There is water on many stream crossings.

    I think a 650 may be too big. We had our hands full with 250's plus gear, but then again we are not expert riders and were pretty tired from days of riding prior to the RT and the hike to Humbolt.

    Hope this helps.
    #47
  8. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    The Rainbow Trail. This video documents a section of the RT from Medano Pass to the Lower Colony Lakes TH.

    <iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/WLF3cTr4zeE?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #48
  9. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    You can skip today's report if you don't enjoy hiking and only want to see motorcycle pics. :(:

    If you do, or are intrigued, :wings hike to Humbolt Peak is a real treat. Adventure riding and hiking is a great combo, despite the fact that you pack just a little extra with the small day backpacks, good hiking shoes, Katadyn filter, etc., both worth your while.

    From TH off the RT, we climbed 2.5 miles to basecamp last night, then early am prepared for the hike to Humbolt Peak, about 5 miles away.

    Filtering water at the old TH. Dirt road to this old TH is now closed, so hence the hike, lots of campsites on the West side of the creek, but last night we didn't know...:

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    Trail opens up after a mile or so to reveal Crestone Needle to the left on this picture:

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    South Colony Lakes behind:

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    Climb up to the saddle

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    The saddle, "The Peak" as Crestone Peak is called by the locals, behind and to the left:

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    From the saddle to Humbolt hike is a bit of a scramble, nothing technical

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    The Needle to the left behind me, The Peak to the right. The views from Humbolt are spectacular:

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    From the saddle you climb to this ridge:

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    with incredible views of North Colony Lakes straight down:

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    Then a quick scramble past a false summit, you get to the top, which thankfully hikers have built in a short wall of stones for protection against the wind:

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    On the way down things got a little colder as the wind was hitting us head-on:

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    Humbolt Peak behind:

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    Side trip to the base of The Needle, crossing South Colony Lake:

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    Soulth Colony Lake/Humbolt Peak behind:

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    We moved our tent to this side of the creek after a long nap...:snore

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    #49
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  10. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    A few views of the hike up to Humbolt Peak:

    <iframe width="640" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/g9lJRsEl7Y4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #50
  11. mattc

    mattc Been here awhile

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    Great report and route. :clap

    I'd love to get back out there and rid the Rainbow trail, and do some hiking.
    #51
  12. mister_bill

    mister_bill Seeker

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    Fantastic pics and video. Those 250's rock.
    #52
  13. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Today is Saturday. Plan was to ride as much of the RT as we could, see what progress we could make, then start our trek back to Denver, sleep wherever night caught us and get back to the storage unit and catch a Sunday evening flight to New Orleans. Helmet cam died on us, looked like no memory left, so you will miss a couple of great :muutt ...

    RT pics from South Colony TH to the Middle Taylor Creek area:

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    Good thing about the RT is that after it kicks your behind, you can rest a bit though places like this:

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    Then it kicks you again:

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    And again:

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    We almost bailed out at the Alvarado TH, but decided to keep rolling to the next bailout point. Here's the final picture of us on the RT, right on the intersection between the RT (straight ahead) and Middle Taylor Creek Road/SR 160 (to the right):

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    In all honesty and despite the enthusiasm, we were just tired. Too ambitious to think we would finish the whole RT, plus the hike, plus riding to and from Denver on dirt, plus Medano Pass,plus Greenhorn, rain delay, etc. in 6 days. We probably needed three more days. We didn't even explore all the trails in the various areas we rode by...which is the lure of Colorado.

    Middle Taylor Creek Road looking east into the valley:

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    On the way to Westcliff on 160 looking east:

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    And looking west saying good bye to the Sangre de Cristo Mnts and the RT :super:

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    Great :dg and :beer at Westcliff's Poag Mahone's (beer, burger and soup were excellent, a great way to celebrate the RT and refuel for the rest of the day)

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    #53
  14. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Leaving Westcliff, the plan was to head back west and then flank the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north towards Guffey/11 Mile Canyon.

    Here are a couple of I assume classic 11 Mile Canyon pics the next morning day 9 closing in on Rampart/Denver:

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    But first, from Westcliff back west toward to Sangre:

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    Racing the rainstorm:

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    Eventually the Sangre de Cristo Mountains turned northwest and we had to head northeast. The landscape between Cotopaxi and Guffey was stunning.

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    We passed through Guffey late in the afternoon. I had heard from a friend from Florida who got me riding motorcycles a few years back that "I don't use tents when I ride in Colorado, I use a tarp for a roof, waterproof maps for a floor and no sleeping bag, plus, there are cabins in Guffey"... (I guess my set up is too much luxury for him....) so we asked around until we found "The Garage":

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    Owner Bill told us he had a cabin left, outhouse included within walking distance:

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    hot showers just around the corner next to "the honeymoon suite"

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    mood gas lighting:

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    all for $30. Deal!

    That same night this transplanted cajun writer and his son were treated at the Bull Moose to, what else, a crawfish boil!

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    with Bayou Boys Cajun Cooking catering and their cajun owner, now Colorado resident, David,

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    And to top it off, I swear I am not making this up with Photoshop, after several days doing the Rainbow Trail, nature threw a gift at us in Guffey:

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    :clap
    #54
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  15. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    #55
  16. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Teaser pic:

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    What we did Sep 8-12:

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    Plan is for ejtv and jakbrand to fly to Denver Thursday, pick up our bikes at our respective storage units and meet in Nederland, play around Northern Colorado Friday, Saturday and Sunday on as much single track, ATV and forest roads as possible and return to Denver Sunday before sunset.

    Itinerary:

    Day 1 Fly Florida/Louisiana to Denver; ride to Nederland
    Day 2 Nederland to Red Feathers
    Day 3 Red Feathers loop
    Day 4 Red Feathers to Denver
    Day 5 Fly Denver to Florida/Louisiana

    The equipment, a KTM 530 and a WR250R, with long range tanks.

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    Minimal gear, change of clothing, tools/tubes, cameras, etc., all fitting inside Giant Loop's Mojavi and Camelback or Zack Pack. Stay in hotels/cabins, eat where locals eat, pack trail mix for lunch, stop for gas, etc.
    #56
  17. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    I rode from Littleton to Nederland via Deer Creek Canyon/285/Red Cone/Webster Pass/Loveland/279. Never ridden Red Cone. I figured if I made it safely (or not) on the WR, jakbrand on the KTM, who had mapped out all the trails we would ride, would know my limit...I did ride up to Red Cone...and down to Webster, no falls. Not a soul around from 285 to Montezuma, epic.

    Here's the only evidence I have:

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    Plus this GPS photomontage, not sure it counts as evidence:

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    It was late in the evening and I had to push on to make to Nederland before dark. Cold. Light snow on Loveland. I took video of Red Cone but the memory card on my helmet cam had a fatal error and nothing I videoed the whole trip survived. :puke1

    Jakbrand needed to do bike maintenance first, so he rode direct to Nederland late afternnon and waited at Sundance Lodge. Dinner at the Lodge was fabulous. Try the grilled peaches for dessert.
    #57
  18. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Breakfast next to town hall at New Moon Bakery; the ham and cheese filled croissants were excellent and so was the latte:

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    AM sun heating things up on the climb to Mineral Mountain/Caribou Flats from Eldora:

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    One of several closed roads we hit during the tour, this one off Left Hand Canyon:

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    And a typical sight: Jakbrand having to re-route at road closed...

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    Though this time the re-route meant climbing up, around and down the piled rocks...This was Jakbrand's one and only fall on this trip...and the first of about a dozen falls for me. Here he is after having ridden both the KTM and the WR through this difficult section.

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    Lunch at Estes Park

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    Somewhere around Buckhorn Creek:

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    Harder than it looks:

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    Well, I was not performing some radical turn, just getting on the bike from a dead stop...

    We then approached Donner Pass via Moody Hill and Sheep Creek. Unfortunately the first mile up Sheep Creek past the bridge proved my undoing. Jakbrand had to ride my WR through one or two difficult rocky sections and not knowing if it would be one mile or ten through rock garden after rock garden, we turn around and b-lined it via Monument Gulch and Seven Mile Canyon to Red Feather Lakes for dinner and lodging at Hill Top General Store Cabins; highly recommended lodging if you're planning a trip there.
    #58
  19. jakbrand

    jakbrand 93 octane

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    Sundance Lodge in Nederland, Colorado. Clean rooms, tasty food at the Cafe and the lodge manager is an avid off road rider who takes an interest in the adventures of wayward DS riders. :1drink

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    #59
  20. jakbrand

    jakbrand 93 octane

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    Climb from Eldora to Caribou Flats

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    Many gates from Nederland to Estes Park. Most were unlocked and legal to pass through.

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    Pierson Park Road looking towards Rocky Mountain NP



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    #60
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