We were up at the crack of dawn and I was out boiling up some of that tasty green lake water for our coffee and oatmeal. Here's a shot of our first campsite. It was pretty heavily treed and was still quite damp.
I took a morning walk around the area and shot a few photos. I noticed all the Aspens in the area had been munched by some little caterpillars that had infested all the trees.
The wild flowers were really blooming alongside the lake below us.
We struggled some to get things packed like they had been when we left home - stuff just didn't seem to want to go back where it had been. Guess we'll figure it out. We were on the road again by about 8:30. We decided that we’d rather back track a bit and head down to Antonito and cut up through the hills from the east rather than head straight up the CTD route through Platoro. We’d been up over Cumbres and La Manga passes numerous times and thought it best to try something new. We also had a bit of a concern about gas as we had neglected to gas up in Abique and we had done close to 200 miles the first day. We weren't certain we'd find gas along the CDT route until we got to Del Norte so we played it conservatively and headed down towards Antonito. We rode back past the Cruces Basin Wilderness and in the morning light the high country was amazing.
At the signboard we took a left down to the Rio de las Pinos. The ride down was relaxing as it is just nice to be out in the high country early in the day. We found a great sunny camp spot just along the rio where the road crosses it. We hung out there for a bit, dumped out that funky tasting green lake water and filtered some fresh clear river water. The nice camp spot can be seen on the opposite side of the river. Next time.
From there the road followed the rio almost all the way out to 285. It started getting hot as we dropped back down to 7000-ish feet, especially once we left the river bank and got out from the shade of the trees. I came around a big sweeping curve and nearly ran over a giant rattler sunning himself in the middle of the road. I stopped 100 yards up to make sure Kerry got by it OK. When I saw her come around the corner she was riding real slow and sort of weaving a bit and then she just stopped. I rode back and asked her WTF she was doing. She pointed out that her front tire was a bit square on the bottom. Shit! You couldn’t get a flat in a nice cool shady spot back along the river?
So I guess it's time to fix our first road side flat. The road have a rather substantial gradient on it to allow for good drainage. This meant we had to part the bike closer to the center of the road than we would have liked. We got it up on the center stand in a stable position using a rock to prop up one side.
I noticed her bike smelled a bit funny. Is that cow poop on your center stand?
Our pile of tools:
The large C-clamp I’d been carry around for weeks came in real handy allowing me to break the tire bead almost instantly. We got the tube out and pumped it up a bit to find the leak. It appeared to be holding air as I couldn’t find a leak anywhere. After several minutes with the tube still appearing to hold air I decided the valve core must have just leaked too much since we had neglected to check tire pressure that morning. We go the tube stuffed back in and I managed to reset the bead fairly well. I was hot and ready to roll. So we got going again.
Soon the road turned to asphalt as were neared town. We went down a short hill and then started heading north through farm land just outside of Antonito. Once on the straight shot I watched in my mirrors to make sure Kerry was coming along. Nope, tires flat again. Lesson: when a tire goes flat there’s a reason.
Repeat process of changing tube but put new tube in this time. Now I was really hot and very much ready for lunch.
We rolled into an eatery in Antonito called Dos Hermanos (not much to chose from in this town) and got a table outside so we could keep an eye on all the gear hanging off our bikes. Lunch was edible but the Mountain House cuisine was better. Anyhoo… heading north once again.
On the way up towards Stunner Pass along FS 255 and the Alamosa River.
We were prepared for rain but we really didn't have the best rain gear with us. Heck, it's only the first week of Monsoon season, how bad can it be?
The roads were getting a little tackier through here. I opted to put away the camera as I could sense the wet weather coming. Not two minutes after this we came across a bunch of real life cowboys and cowgirls driving at least 100 head of cattle up to the high country. Would have made a great shot - oh well.
We stopped in the little town of Jasper. Seems like a nice place to have a summer home. Many of the homes had solar panels so I am guessing this place is pretty much off the grid. It's amazing where you can live these days.
We ride on a little further and then it starts to dump. We threw on our trusty old Marmot rain coats. I had decided to re-water proof these using Scotch Guard and this actually worked pretty well, for a bit. Now we both have full Gortex water proof outfits at home but we opted not to bring them and travel in our mesh jackets instead because it had been so darn hot for the past couple of months. Still not sure if I regret this move but having only a jacket doesn't really help with the rain since water likes to flow right down onto your legs and into your boots.
Live and learn.
We spent the next couple of hours riding up over Stunner Pass and down onto Park Creek Rd completely cloaked in thick cloud and heavy rain. Awesome adventure! At 11,500 feet is was quite chilly and at this point we were pretty much ready to camp at the first spot we found. After a couple of attempts we happened onto a sweet spot along Park Creek. It was still drizzling so we got the tent set up under a nice big pine tree and then parked the bikes under two other trees. We got out of our wet clothes just as the rain stopped and we settled in to get some soup and hot coffee going. Here's a shot of our second nights camp:
Unfortunately a state wide fire ban prevented us from warming up by a fire. We went to bed early that night and awoke to a bright beautiful sunshinny morning.