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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by dbarkdoll, Jul 12, 2019.
In from NZ!
Is first pic 64 across the Rio Grande?
So here we go...!!
Me leaving my sisters place in Taos Monday, August 5th.
The night before was a bit stressful. We were hanging out in the house when all of a sudden her roommate yelled,"Holy s#!t, your bike fell over!"
My heart sank. Hadn't even started yet and the whole thing could be ruined. I was real worried that the clutch lever was snapped in two which would have postponed leaving substantially. We got it upright though and to my absolute surprise, the only scratch on the bike was on the left mirror. I had parked it in the gravel underneath their carport and it rained pretty much all night. I guess most of the runoff from the roof went right towards where the bike was parked and turned the ground to mush. Kickstand sank right into it. But, everything seemed to be fine so I was beyond relieved.
Headed out towards Colorado for the start of everything. Couldn't have asked for better weather.
Rode through Chama NM, ate some lunch there. Really cool place, home of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.
Made it across the state line shortly after, Was feeling really really good.
Rode around the Conejos Valley area, so stunning. Elevation was starting to climb here.
Rode through Pagosa Springs, CO for a beer and short hangout. Was getting time to start searching for camp which wound up being a National Forest campground near Chimney Rock Monument. Couldn't have asked for a better first day!
Day 2 I headed out towards Durango, CO. Didn't have a real plan other than I wanted to end up in Fort Collins by Saturday, plenty of time to wander around the western slope. Met two bikers at a gas station, one was on a gorgeous Suzuki GS with a nice paint matched Windjammer and some luggage. I told them I was thinking about heading towards Mesa Verde National Park, they said it's way too hot there right now. Asked if I had been up Highway 550 yet towards Silverton and Ouray, I said no. They highly recommended it and I was in the position to receive recommendations so off I went. What a phenomenal choice, was very glad I ran into them. Later found out 550 is The Million Dollar Highway, which I had heard of but didn't put 2 and 2 together til I was on it. Should be on every motorcyclists bucket list for sure.
This is south of Silverton I believe. Hard to remember for sure. It gets better.
Molas Pass, 10,912 ft. Impossible to get it all in a photo. Truly stunning panoramic overlook.
Silverton, CO. 9,318 ft.
Really cool place, hung out there for a bit, went to some shops, grabbed some lunch. Would go back in a heartbeat.
Highway 550 from Silverton to Ouray. This is the stretch that gave it it's name.
Absolutely stunning piece of road. And quite hair-raising too. You can see the utter lack of guardrails.
Ouray, CO. 7,792 ft. Another really cool old mining town.
After all this amazing riding, I kept the ball rolling and headed towards Telluride.
Found a National Forest campground nearby and met a couple who were riding all over on a KTM 1290. Real nice and gave me some pointers on where to head next.
Woke up to this view. Sunshine Peak, which has the dubious distinction of being Colorado's lowest 14'er. Sits at 14,007 feet. I wasn't complaining!!
What I would give to live somewhere like that
Woke up the next morning and ran Highway 145 down and back, AKA Lizard Head Pass.
Stopped in Stoner, CO for an obligatory selfie.
Decided to head north towards Highway 141, per a fellow inmates recommendation. Many here probably know dogjaw, he told me that this stretch of road between Naturita and Gateway was one of if not the best in the country. Had to go decide for myself. It definitely did not disappoint.
51 miles of absolutely perfectly sculpted curves, gorgeous scenery, swimming holes, and more. With little to no traffic. Motorcycle Mecca. Stopped in the middle somewhere for a dip in the river which felt amazing in the midday heat.
Rest of the day was pushing east towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison, another spot recommended by dogjaw. Hit a bit of rain coming out of Gateway Canyon and then high winds on the highway, but made it Crawford, CO around dinner time which is nearby the canyon. Was unsure of where to camp that night but luckily there was a young couple traveling as well that I met that told me they were camped at the North Rim campground and to follow them there after dinner. It was a long but well graded dirt road into the campground and once we reached it it was obvious there were no open sites available. They were kind enough to share their site with me and we hung out by the fire that night and got to know each other. One of many examples of the kindness of strangers while traveling.
Pics of the canyon next!
So no three-sum then, I guess kindness only goes so far. Trip looks terrific my friend, be safe and keep enjoying and posting.
Woke up the next morning and walked maybe 1/8 of a mile to the rim of the canyon to behold this:
Average height of the canyon is 1,600 feet, Painted Wall which is visible in the photo is 2,250 feet, making it the tallest sheer cliff in Colorado.
Then met a fellow rider in the campground who was doing a bit of touring himself although in much different style.
That's an EBR (Eric Buell Racing) 1190. One of the most exotic bikes I've seen and heard in person. That big ol' chunk of frame you see acts as the fuel tank as well. So many little details on this bike that scream performance. Couldn't believe he was road tripping on it but hey, it's the rider not the bike, right??
We ended up riding the North Rim Road together which was really cool and yielded some incredible views:
After he departed I fancied a little hike to get a bit more up close and personal with the canyon. Boy did I get what I asked for. A duo of climbers camped next to me suggested a "trail" that led down into the canyon all the way to the Gunnison. Sounded cool, why not. Filled my Camelbak up and was on my way. Quickly found out this trail was much more of a scramble down a very steep gully where the path of least resistance was not so much a footpath but more like a natural rock slide avenue. Nonetheless I descended down.
Only passed one person on my way down, they were coming up and seemed to be in fairly good spirits which was encouraging. They told me to just keep plugging away and enjoy the hike. After a very steep and hot two hours, I finally made it 1600 feet down to the bottom in about a 1 1/4 mile of distance.
The river was raging, the canyon walls were staggeringly high, the water was cold and crystal clear, and I had it all to myself. A very invigorating and liberating experience for sure that I reveled in for some time before making the dreaded climb back out. Only one way back to camp though which was up, so better get to it.
I quickly realized climbing out was going to be much more taxing than stumbling down. I made a big mistake by attempting this hike during midday, temp was prob somewhere in the 90s and shade was few and far between. I would climb from shady spot to shady spot basically, stopping at each point for a while to catch my breathe and try to keep cool. The "trail" as I mentioned was very hard to keep track of and at some point about halfway up I lost it. Didn't realize this until it was too late to go back down and try to pick it back up so I kept forging ahead, knowing that my water supply was getting low and that I did not want to spend the night in this godforsaken canyon.
The going got tougher and tougher the higher I got to where I was bushwhacking through all sorts of crap, getting scratched up and knocked down, grasping for anything to pull me up the loose steep gully. I was starting to get a bit frantic. I had been in the canyon for close to 5 hours now and was starting to feel the heat really get to me. Kept climbing my way up and out through the underbrush until finally I reached the rim and things flattened out. Still no trace of any sort of trail but I picked a direction I thought the road was in and bushwhacked towards it. Finally caught sight of the ranger station which gave me my bearings, found the trail soon after and I was home clear. I had ran out of water not long before so my timing was a bit close for comfort. Made it back to the campground and was absolutely beat. Started to feel real bad so lied down in my tent for a bit just trying to recuperate, but was roused out by a uncontrollable need to be sick in the bushes. Threw up I'd say a couple liters of water and a bunch of bile, lied back down and felt pretty awful the rest of the night. A very humbling experience to say the least and not one that I will soon forget.
If it helps I enjoyed your photos very muchso thank you and I dont feel ill whatsoever. Got to love these forums.
Loved the pictures but can’t ‘like’ the end result
Black Canyon is the only place I've seen a peregrine falcon.
Ways you've beaten me at half my age;
1. Quitting a job without the next one lined up
2. Month off to ride
3. What's next?
Next day was a bit of a blur, looking on the map here to try to remember where all I went cause I took very few photos. I believe from Black Canyon I headed north to Carbondale. Got some lunch at a brewpub there and then headed towards Aspen. Went through town just to say I'd been there but didn't stop anywhere. From there headed east towards Independence Pass. What a crazy road. At times the center line disappeared and things got very narrow. I felt grateful to have the opportunity to ride it while the weather permitted it cause I can easily see that road being closed for most of the year. The view from the top was incredible as well.
From there I headed north, passing through Leadville, Silverthorn, and Kremmling towards Steamboat Springs. I wanted to visit the Strawberry Hotsprings the next morning so ended up camping at a National Forest campground not too far away. Laid down a bunch of miles that day, close to 330 if I recall.
Had a very chilly morning the next day, not sure of the elevation at that campground but I believe it was around 9,000 ft. Rode towards Steamboat to fuel up and then headed towards the hot springs. This is another bucket list place if you've never been. I had been once before on Christmas Day several years ago and knew that I wanted to go back on this trip. Especially since I was still veryyyy sore from my canyon adventure. I took no photos there and it was nowhere near as memorable as my first visit, but i stole this photo off a website to give you an idea of the scene when I first went. It was actively snowing while I was there during that time as well.
The pools are terraced in a way that the higher up ones (closer to the source) are the hottest, and cool down as you move down. There is also a natural creek that runs along side the pools that you can go swim in to cool off. Felt so good switching back and forth. A very special place indeed.
After that I headed back through Steamboat on my way east towards Ft. Collins. I ran into this young man at the station, how could I have not stopped to chat??
He was taking a weekend trip and like many said he was jealous of mine. Really cool kid and we talked bikes for a minute before realizing we were both heading the same direction for a bit so off we went screaming up the mountain pass on Highway 40 east. I was holding 70 up the whole thing a bit worried that i was going to lose him but he was right on my tail the whole time, it was a blast. Particularly imagining the thought running through the heads of all the HD guys/gals we passed on our "old" Hondas.
I peeled off at Highway 14 and kept riding towards Ft Collins. As I got close to Cameron Pass (10,249 ft) the sky took on a very ominous tone. I was almost certain I was in for some weather.
Somehow I avoided any rain, one of many times on this trip that I lucked out big time. Didn't even stop at the top of the pass, just wanted to get down into the canyon before my luck ran out.
Took the Poudre Canyon all the way into Ft Collins which is a stunning road. Saw a bunch of folks rafting, a buddy of mine is a guide there and said I should have stopped and said hey, not sure how those logistics would have worked out though!
Made it into Ft Collins safe and sound where I had a bed and shower for the first time all week. Spent two nights there catching up with a friend and my sister, a good break from the road for sure.
Where are the hot springs you went to? I'm trying to local and mark them on Google maps for future reference. Great pics. Thanks.
Left Ft Collins on, well, to be perfectly honest I don't remember what day I left lol. Doesn't matter. I do recall riding towards Estes Park though. I should have stopped and hung out there for a bit probably but I was eager to get into Rocky Mountain National Park before it got too crowded and before the afternoon storms started rolling through. What an incredibly beautiful and intense place.
The road in takes its time gaining elevation to where at first I was like, "is this it..?" The answer was a resounding no, this is not it. Eventually I was up above 10,000 feet and still climbing, in a completely alien and surreal world up in the clouds. 14'ers everywhere. Fast, colddd winds, especially for mid August. Well above the tree line. A totally barren and inhospitable place indeed but one filled with amazing beauty. The highest point on the road is 12,183 ft. Highest elevation I was at for the trip and my whole life I believe.
So hard to get a good picture there, the spaces are just so massive.
While I could have spent all afternoon up there the brisk winds and looming clouds convinced me otherwise so it was time to make my retreat. I had made it this far without getting caught in an alpine storm and was looking to keep that going. Rode south until I found a campground (after several failed attempts down a very long gravel road) near Lake Granby.
I see a hardcopy map - atta boy!
I'm here for the Stones reference, and the sweet tour report.
Once you get back and things return to "Normal", you'll never regret it.
Fun to read, great photos