We awoke to a glorious morning with picture perfect blue skies as far as the eye could see. We had a quick breakfast of coffee and oatmeal and hit the road.
The plan was to ride out northwest from camp to find some smaller dirt roads that looked like they’d connect us back up to highway 65. The goal for the day was to get over to Land’s End. It sounded like a cool place.
We soon ran into issues with the GPS. It was telling us to head down a road that looked much like a goat track. We re-routed ourselves and tried to get around finding what seemed to be a passable route but then this turned into another tight twisty rooted mess. We turned around again and found yet another route. All of these routes appeared to be good passable NF routes on the GPS which should take us back out to the highway. Finally consulting our Benchmark map book (guys don't ask for directions, right?) we saw these were actually hiking trails and the like. After dumping the bikes too many times for it being this early in the day we decided to back track and take a much easier route out to the north heading to the small town of Colbran. From there we could ride pavement back up towards our destination for the day. Not exactly what I had hopped for but I know when to cut my losses, especially since Kerry was brave enough to join me on this super cool adventure.
Once off the dirt the road took a steep dive off the face of a cliff dropping us several thousand feet to the valley below. This picture doesn’t really do it justice. This wasn't quite like riding an old roller coaster at Magic Mountain but it was close.
In Colbran we stopped at the Twisted Sister for lunch. Seems like this place catered to laborer's for their breakfast and lunch. The menu was small and consisted of a few basic items like a burger, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a breakfast burrito. The special was a pasta salad with drink and desert for $7. We had the special and it was really good even though it was served up in a plastic take-away box with plastic utensils and a napkin. I had some sort of blueberry cream cheese square for desert. Good stuff. Sorry, I only managed to get a picture of the outside of the place. Great deserts; odd name for a place like this. I keep thinking of the 80's rock band of the same name but the lady working the place sure seemed to be rather small-townish and super nice.
From Colbran we headed down highway 330 to where it intersected 65 and then headed south and up, back up to the top of Grand Mesa. En route we passed by the Powder Horn ski area. Looked OK but I doubt I’d travel all the way out here to ski it.
A view of the highway on the way back up to the high country.
Once on top we found the Land’s End road. We were hoping for some great scenery and we were rewarded. The road itself was a very wide well grated gravel road. In fact many parts of it were paved. This was kind of odd to ride on actually. You’d go along for a mile or so and then you’d hit some pavement. Go another half mile and you’d be back on dirt. This went on most of the way out to the end with the last several miles being all paved. Here's a not-so-great picture of the sign board. There appears to be plenty of mountain biking out here. Hmmmm, might have to come back this way some day....
Along the way we stopped to check out the old buildings remaining from the Raber Cow Camp. This area had been inhabited during the early 1900’s. I bet the winters were long and cold but what a place to have lived!
The view out off the mesa from the upper cabin.
We stopped along the way to check out the view from the mesa top. Wow, what a cool place.
I'm really glad we chose this spot, and we only did because I saw on the map that there was this crazy "schwoopty" bit of road heading down off the mesa that looked like it would be fun to ride. Here's a few shots I took along the way.
We also stopped at the Lands End Observatory right out at the end of the point.
You can see down to Grand Junction from cliffs around the observatory. The observatory was hand-built during the great depression and stands atop Colorado’s highest mesa at 10,500 feet above sea level. The walls and terrace were built from basalt stones collected from the surrounding area. The roof shingles were hand sawn. Unemployed Veterans were put to work building the road that leads up to this point. They were paid $1 per days work. The sign states that the upper section of the road from the Wild Rose picnic ground up to the rim was built over two summers, “ built the whole road, said the Project Engineer, blasting and all, without injuries”. Even back then I suppose safety in the work place was an issue.
We continued to circle the mesa top looking for a place to camp. There's actually a great spot just a little ways past the observatory but alas we had very little water with us so we had to continue on. We ended up circling all the way back around to near the start of the Lands End road and then dropped down to Carson Lake, a nice local fishing spot with decent camping and ready access to water from the stream exiting the lake. This lake is actually part of the water source for the town of Grand Junction and the surrounding area. We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the lake shore that evening. I saw my first real live beaver swimming along the shore. Sorry, no pic.