We awoke to sunshine which was a good thing since all our gear was still damp. Using the straps from our Wolfman Luggage we strung up a clothesline between our bikes. We put our boots out to dry too.
In determining our route for the day we realized we had taken a wrong turn up on top somewhere while we had been riding through the clouds. We were now down close to South Fork just up the road a bit from where the Pass Creek yurt is that we have visited many times for a New Years backcountry ski trip. We really wanted to drop into Del Norte so once again we decide to back track. This was a good choice because the mountain top was really quite scenic and we had missed all the views the previous day.
And we're headed to Summitville!
Oh wait, not so beautiful. Guess this is what mountain top mining is all about. Cut down a big chunk of mountain so you can extract the rocks. (Guess I've got too many friends in the gas/oil/mining businesses so I best shut up already.)
But it's still pretty darn nice up here.
We encounter a bit of rain again but it only lasts for a few minutes. Soon we're headed down into warmer sunnier conditions. Here's a shot of me just above the valley through which the Pinos Creek flows. Somewhere in the distance is Del Norte.
We soon hit pavement and cruised out to town through some nice ranch land along the Pinos Creek.
As we tee'd into highway 160 directly across the street we spot our lunch spot: Peace of Art Cafe. The place was pretty crunchy (as in granola) but the food was good. We took a much needed break on the patio and enjoyed the warm sunshine. We took a moment to call our friends in Crested Butte to let them know we wouldn't be there for at least another day.
Around 1:00ish we started out heading north on 285 but we were looking to get off that busy straight fast bit of highway as quickly as possible. GPS to the rescue: Turn here and you can cut over there and hit the road you are trying to get on. So we head west and out towards the Conejos river. We soon find ourselves driving along a very straight gravel road, but hey, itís better than the pavement. We take the next left, then right, and over a short bridge. Continue north and then run into some guys property that looks like an old junk yard. GPS says just go straight through and a mile or so over there is where you want to be. I donít think so. We turn around and head back out towards the highway again. Just before the bridge a car with an crusty old dude in it rolls to a stops. He asks what we are doing. I try to explain we were headed up the CDT route towards Storm King but he just argues there was no way to do that, and he seemed quit disturbed that we were on his street. I asked if he lived around here and he said, ďI own all of thisĒ while waving his hand about the dried up flat wasted farm land junk pile of a place. I suppose that in making this factual statement about his land ownership he was now relieved that we knew what was what. He instantly became helpful and changes his story. Turns out we if we take the next left off of the highway it would put us onto a road that would take us up to the Storm King camp ground.
We got on CR-41a and followed along Carnero Creek heading up towards Storm King. We had set the campground as our destination for the afternoon. Along the way we did take a side trip to check out an arch (Lagarita Arch I thinkn) but it was pretty unexciting (and hot) so we headed on. Around 3:00 p.m. we reached the Storm King campground. It was nice enough but the weather was great and decided to roll on to see what lay ahead.
Once again, GPS to the rescue. It told me there was another campground, Stone Creek, only 13 miles away. We trustingly followed the GPS heading off the nice grated dirt road onto what soon became a full blown ATV track. Greg: this is sweet. Kerry: I really don't want to do this. We discuss this plan for a minute and agree that if it gets too hairy we'll turn around. Kerry motors on managing the tough climbs like a pro. She has no problem getting up stuff. Then we get to a tight sweeping downhill switchback. She get's off and I take t he bike down through the turn for her. We then contemplate our options. Judging by the GPS we should hit a better road again in less than a mile. So we press on and get to the good road without too much trouble.
We cruise the good road for 7 or 8 miles and then that darn GPS unit tells me I missed a turn. We back track but don't see any possible routes so we continue on. GPS recalculates route. We forge on and then miss another turn which appears to be blocked by a low wood fence obviously put there to keep out vehicles and protect the environment. According to the GPS it looks like we should be able to continue along our current road and get to Stone Creek CG as it is just over the ridge in front of us. We press on climbing up another 1000 vertical feet or so and the road just dead ends. It's getting later and colder and the skies are threatening to rain once again. Great, guess we should have stopped back at Storm King CG. (But there's no adventure in that, eh?)
Greg: We can't camp here, there isn't any water. Kerry: Lets look at the map. Greg: Let's back track a bit and try that other route we saw. Kerry: Sure we shouldn't look at the map?. Greg: No, it's getting late and we have to find a camp and water. Well, that "other" route was definitely closer to a jeep trail than a road passable by n00b's riding 400 lb bikes. After a mile or so of increasingly more difficult terrain we got to the sign on a fence directly at the bottom of a steep nasty loose rocky hill that said "High Clearance 4WD". Kerry managed to dump her bike here as there was no where for her to go except into the fence. As I was now all the way in the back of the dog house "we" decided to back track once again. Eventually we found a passable hunters camp along a hill side but there was no water around. After setting up camp I rode back over to the nearest creek and loaded up about a 8 liters of water in our Platypus's and Camelbak bladders. We had a tasty dinner courtesy of Mountain House and enjoyed a cool drizzly evening without a fire once again. We were camped at just over 10k feet so it was cool but quite pleasant.