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Old 06-16-2010, 08:38 PM   #1
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10 Days Zigzagging Central Colorado From Top to Bottom

Finally time to depart for Colorado. No real plan, mainly just get out of the 100 degree+ weather forecast for Lubbock, Texas.

My son, Brad, worries like an old mother hen when I take off on these solo camping trips from my he gave me a Spot for my birthday.

The Spot made it easier for my friends and family to keep can set it up to send custom message emails to up to 50 recipients. It made all the difference for Brad...instead of worrying when I was out of cell service, he followed along in google.

I stopped and visited Brad's maternal grandfather, who is recovering from gall bladder surgery at Harmony House in Amherst, Texas. I talked him into giving the ADV salute! Best wishes, Bud!

Here's a shot of the NM desert stretch...Doc Roc and LDF talk about liking the treeless plains in the Mobius Report, so I put in a pic just for you, Doc.

Does that qualify as a treeless plain? I didn't take any pics of West Texas and very few of Eastern NM...BORING!!! Flat, straight and stinky! One dairy farm after another from Amherst to Clovis, NM. Then a long desert stretch from Clovis to Vaughan, where I turned off 84 onto 285 North. I stopped in Ft. Sumner and gobbled a ham & cheese sandwich in a pretty little park. Should've taken a picture...I finally mounted the camera to the handlebar at Sante Fe.

That's Wheeler Peak, the highest peak in NM and home to Taos Ski Valley, in the distance. That dirt road looks inviting, huh?

I made it to Antonito, Co. and turned West on 17, looking for a campspot.

I'd seen Mogote NF Campground on some maps and was looking for that. I found it...only 450 miles from Lubbock. I must come here more's beautiful!

It might get a little chilly at night at these elevations and this close to the river?

One good thing about camping near a river...there's always plenty of firewood.

Day 2 and oat meal. Yummy! Everything tastes better in the woods!

I broke camp with Lake Dillon in mind for my next campspot. It did get a little chilly, so I started out heading West on 17 to check out a couple more NFS campgrounds for future reference.

The aspen were putting on leaves and were a vibrant green.

Elk Creek Campground was a couple miles down a washboarded, dirt road. I liked Mogote CG better.

Time to backtrack to 285 and head North into the heart of Colorado!

This is the South view from 17 near Aspen View CG.

The same location looking North.

Still lots of snow in the higher elevations!

I stopped here for a break to check out a roaring little creek. All the creeks and rivers were ripping!

One of the 14er Collegiate Peaks...not sure which one?

This was near Buena first attempt at a panorama shot...I need to practice with my new camera!

A 14er with too much zoom.

Time for the rain gear?

I followed a rain shower all day...sure smelled good. A little bit chilly in mesh gear, tho!

I did Starlight, Starbright on the evening star last night...and wished for clear skies and good weather. It's trying to clear...

Pine beetles are destroying our National Forests! There are more brown evergreens in places than green.

Notice how the trees don't have leaves yet at the higher elevations.

Drop a few hundred feet and they're the brightest green you've ever seen!

Starting to sprinkle...see it on the windscreen. Never had to put on my rainsuit, tho.

Silverthorne, Co. I'd been chilled all day and was craving a warm shower, so I got a room here.

That's Dillon Lake with the Keystone Range in the background. How can the people that live here stand to look at that all the time?

That's all for Day 2. Day 3 destination...Rocky Mountain National Park.

Phattyre-Phready2 screwed with this post 06-18-2010 at 10:43 AM Reason: adding pics of NM
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Old 06-16-2010, 10:25 PM   #2
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:13 AM   #3
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"How can the people that live here stand to look at that all the time?"

I remember having that thought in the Alps.
Will be riding in CO in July, enjoying your report.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:26 AM   #4
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Gotta love Colorado riding! Thanks for taking us along.. I'm making the pilgrimmage there in the summer!
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:40 AM   #5
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Great pics! Hoping to make it this fall...

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Pulling on that bike with all I have, I fear that I will pop a vein in my anus any second. - metaljockey
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:51 AM   #6
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Thanks for the report. I'm riding to Colorado with some friends in August.
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:46 AM   #7
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Nice looking paint job on your bike- very cool!
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:19 AM   #8
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Great Job!
I'll be there next month also Can't Wait!
Looking forward to the next installment
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Phattyre-Phready2
Finally time to depart for Colorado.

That's all for Day 2. Day 3 destination...Rocky Mountain National Park.
good stuff
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:53 PM   #10
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Day 3 headed for Rocky Mountain National Park

I didn't put any pics of the motel where I stayed because I wouldn't recommend it. It was old and cheap, but clean, so I took it. About 2:30am, a party kicked off next door. I called the desk and left a complaint on the answering machine. It finally calmed down enough for me to go back to sleep around 4am. I should've set an alarm, but I rarely sleep past 6am, especially in a motel. I awoke at 8:30 to light showers outside. I immediately felt hurried, since I had planned to be on the road by 9ish. Keep the hour delay in mind when looking at the clouds in the pics. They're moving left to right in the morning pics.

Friggin' Western Pine Beetles! A ranger at Rio Grande NFS headquarters had warned me that several NFS Campgrounds were closed because of the danger of dead trees falling in high winds. Guess why the trees are dead? WPB!!!

I had originally kinda' planned to go from Dillon to Loveland Pass, catch I70 to 40 North and go through Winter Park to Granby. After riding chilled the entire day before and with overcast skies, I decided to take a river route instead of a high pass path. I followed Blue River on 9 North to Kremming, then turned East on 34 and followed the Colorado River to it's headwaters in the RMNP.

Route 9 from Silverthorne to Kremming looks boring on the map, but it was actually a beautiful ride with very little traffic this day.

That's Mt. Powell to the west.

I pulled off to be sure I got this cloud corridor I was in (I spotted it in the mirror...this was looking South where I'd just come from) and got the 2 Mt. Powell pics above. Two of my favorites.

Looking South where I'd just been.

Down there is where the Blue River joins the Colorado. Time to turn East on 34 and follow the Colorado River.

On the map, 34 looks like it would be a busy route, but there was little traffic today.

I did coffee and oat meal at the motel and I was getting hungry, so I stopped at Windy Gap Active Wildlife Viewing roadside park. What a view...through the provided pay binoculars, you could see several elk feeding in the high meadow in the bite mark of my sandwich. Although you couldn't see them with the naked eye, I was tickled to see some elk! Little did I know I would almost reach out and touch one later that day.

That's Sol Vista Ski Area in the left background.

That's Granby Lake, which separates the Arapahoe Nat'l Rec Area from the Rocky Mountain NP.

Traffic picked up considerably at Granby. Instead of letting it get to me, I would just pull off at the first photo op, take some pics and wait for a clearer spot in traffic. This is across from Grand Lake...I'm almost to the RMNP!

I briefly spotted a Skimmer at the little roaring creek I took a break beside, but didn't get a pic. I was tickled to see one in the birds to watch for in the RMNP!

Trail Ridge Road across the top of RMNP was spectacular. Several miles of 12000' tundra with stunning views.

I spent almost an hour talking to a Ranger...sorry, no name or picture. This guy knew the Park and genuinely enjoyed talking about it. I asked where he would camp if he were me. Instead of a pre-prepared answer about the spot they have trouble filling, he asked several questions about me and what I'm looking for. He then recommended Moraine Park, which would take about two hours. He said the weather on the Trail Ridge Road was as pretty as it had been in days that day. It was around 2, so off I went.

The Ranger did warn me about a couple of slide areas where the road surface was gravel, but slow speed limits should prevent it from flying. He also mentioned a couple of one-way work zones, but that's just the way it is in Colorado in the mountains in late spring. Gotta' get em patched before's nearly always winter on much of the Trail Ridge Road!

As best I could tell, the tree line is usually around 11,500'...or does it vary from region to region?

I stopped here, put on all the warm gear I could easily get to and cranked up the heated grips. It's beautiful up here, but chilly as well!

Several hundred feet above the tree line here!

This looks like the old picture in the visitor center.

Just when I was beginning to think it's not as cold as it looks...One-way traffic stop right on the edge of a wind swept ridge. Brrrr...

I had time to take the camera off the mount and get my first mirror shot of the trip...starting to back up.

Not the best surface, but at least I'm rolling.

Whooaa!!! Time to stop for pics...danged cages drive me nuts, sometimes! Not as close as it looks...we were CRAWLING.

Where finished, the Trail Ridge Road is smooth as silk.

These things sure can cause traffic hazards...if you have a telephoto lens, you have the right of way, I suppose?

The old bull on the left was in some sweet grass and wasn't going anywhere soon. The young one on the left is what was making me wait...he wasn't sure what he wanted to do.

Made it to Day 3 campgrounds...hope I get a good site!

Back at the RMNP visitor center, the Unknown Ranger said they'd cleared most of the dead trees killed by the WPB. No kidding...hardly any big pines left!

At least they saved a few around the campsites!

RMNP elk cows are obviously used to people.

Ol' #47 seemed to be the leader and is expecting, I expect.

Probably too many pine cones and needles to sneak up close enough for an elk porn shot? Darn bush blocked that one!

Here you go, goatrider06! Whoa now, Beasties...get your minds outa' the gutter and don't get yourselves banned! His cage is a 2006 GTO...he doesn't really ride least that I know of? We kid him about it, tho!

A little girl about 7 or 8 tried to approach #47 with her hand out like she had a treat. When she got within a few yards, the cow raised her head and stomped her front foot...sent that little girl running. She went back to grazing...she knows how to handle young campers!

Day 4
Before the trip, I ordered an inverter and even installed a powerlet in my tail trunk so I could charge the netbook while riding. The invertor quit working or never worked...not sure which? So I rode to Estes Park to charge up and eat brunch.

Ok...ok, I know there are a lot of inmates who start slobbering and will piss and moan 'til they see some food if you say "eat" anything. me too!! So here ya' go! A southwest omellette with bell peppers, onions, green chilles and 3 kinds of cheese! YUMMY!!! I guess I was getting a little tired of oat meal and sandwiches, although I've been eating a variety of scrumptious made at home before I left burritos each evening. I know...I know...shoulda' took some pics!

A couple more Estes Park pics. Then I'm back to break camp and look for a NFS campsite. Nat'l Parks don't allow gathering firewood, or even hauling it in. You have to buy it from a vendor and still figure out how to haul it on a bike. National Forest Service campgrounds allow gathering deadwood or hauling it in. Call me frugal, but it just doesn't feel right to buy firewood in the midddle of a National Forest that is full of deadwood from pine beetle killed trees!!!

Isn't Estes Park awesome!?? It's my brother-in-law's favorite place in the whole world, according to Sis.

After breaking camp, I headed toward Bear Lake before leaving the NP. I found this cool waterfall and river gorge.

I didn't go all the way to Bear Lake...I wanted to find a multi-day base campsite so I could explore without all my luggage. I headed South out of Estes Park on Co7, looking for Olive Ridge NFS Campgrounds. I found it in the shadow of Mt. Long, the only 14er in the National Park and 2 miles down the road from Meeker Park, where there was a small general store with pay public showers and laundry. Perfect for a multi-day base camp...if the campsites look good?
This is Mt. Long

I found Olive Ridge CG and a great campsite. I went ahead and paid for 3 nights, offloaded my luggage and took off to play unencumbered. I'll set up camp later when it's cooler. This campsite is at 8900', so it'll definately be cool when the sun goes down. I took 7 South to 72 South to 119 East to Sugartown Road (or something like that) It was paved for a ways, then turned to dirt and came out on 72 North of Nederland. Then headed back and set up camp.

Sugarloaf Road...that's it! I think...shoulda took a picture.

This was just after I came off dirt on 72. Sorry about the gloved finger in the pic. BTW...these pics are all just the way they came outta' the camera. No touch ups or editing of any kind, other than selecting the large size to link from SmugMug.

The Ruler of "The Rock". I picked this site because of this huge boulder on the upwind side...little did I know I would be entertained by a couple of chipmunks having a territorrial dispute over it. These little guys don't hold still for photos very often.

More campsite and chipmunk pics tomorrow. Ride plan for Day 5...ride the "hide the gunpowder" road to the Continental Divide.

Phattyre-Phready2 screwed with this post 06-17-2010 at 11:13 PM
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Old 06-18-2010, 05:01 AM   #11
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Thanks, guys!

Thanks for the kind words, guys! I have ADV decals front and back, I've been tagged on the tail trunk with FYYFF and my white helmet has the Dakar dude decal with ADV under it on back. I've uploaded over 300 pics so far and haven't found a one with ADV in it! Sorry Gadget Boy...I'll take some pics at home if I don't find one.
Those are actually 3m Illuminite decals on the bike, Buddy Holly... Rex, a guy from Dallas sells them for $95.00 for a 6 piece kit. 2 eyes, 2 grins and 2 Stars & Bars. They're copies of the teeth and eyes from the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk WWII warplane. Rex calls 'em WarStroms.
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:48 AM   #12
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Day 5 Hide the gunpowder

Day 5 starts with wind gusts of 40+ mph! Chip came out and posed for me. Or is that Dale? Might even be Alvin?? He sure know how to get around on the big boulder.

Day 5 planned route:,2.112122&z=9

Didn't attempt to light the campstove in those winds, instead headed into Estes Park for brunch.

I then take 34 East to CR25 North. 34 runs through the Big Thompson canyon with rock walls on both sides.

I turn North on CR25 and head toward Horsetooth Reservoir. Check out the color of the dirt in the hill ahead. Looks like Utah!

CR25 runs along the East side of Horsetooth Reservoir for about 10 miles with spectacular views.

I'm certainly glad those daybreak winds subsided! Turned out to be a light wind day, no whitecaps on the lake.

I was tempted to take off on this dirt road...probably killer views of the lake from up there, but I play it safe and stick to the pavement since I'm riding alone.

CR25 turned out to be a sweet route...not even numbered on the paper maps. It was a cutoff to avoid going into Loveland and Ft. Collins to get to Co14.

Still CR25 just South of Bellvue.

I had an email from my son last night saying he had just read an article in the latest issue of Rider Magazine about the "Hide the Gunpowder Road" in Northern Colorado. The road is the Poudre Canyon Road or Co14. I had seen the twisty line on the map and it was one of the reasons I set up a 3 night base camp nearby. The only problem was he wasn't the only one to read the article...traffic was too heavy for a relaxing ride. But it was still fun with killer views!

I whine about the traffic on 14 and then all the pics show no traffic.

This is Poudre Falls...made me pull over and take the camera off the mount!

I was actually just above the main fall, but I had a big loop planned today. No time for hiking.

Co14 also crosses Cameron Pass at 10,276'. I started seeing the unique rock formations at the top of the peak here. It was one of those sights you just can't get enough of...just keeps pulling your eyes back every time it comes into view.

The pics don't grab me like real life did. I'd love to camp nearby and have a view of Cameron Peak.

One last pic of Mt. Cameron. The aspen in the foreground were just starting to bud...imagine this picture with new leaves on the aspen.

I've got to get to work! I'll finish up Day 5 this evening.

Phattyre-Phready2 screwed with this post 06-18-2010 at 10:02 AM Reason: still trying to add a google map of day's route
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Old 06-18-2010, 07:34 AM   #13
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Fantastic pics and great report!. I really need to make some time to visit Colorado. Thanks for sharing!!
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:59 PM   #14
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Day 5 finish

After Cameron Pass, I was tempted to try a shortcut across to 125, but I was too low on gas and had to go into Walden and fill up. I then headed South on 125.

Headed back toward Granby, where I take 40 South to Winter Park.

We flew to Denver and rode the Grey Line to Winter Park in the winter of 1980 to snow ski. I remember how impressed 5 y.o. Brad was by all the peaks above the tree line. He kept asking where all the trees went on top of the mountains?

This Harley guy blew by me about 80 mph. I was a little worried about getting back to camp before the deer started moving, so I jumped in with him. Some Harley riders don't like rice burner bikes following them...this was one of those guys, apparently. He pushed it to at least 100mph and put some space between us. He got stuck behind some slower traffic and I caught back on. When we hit I70, he turned East like I was planning and caught a 2 lane onramp stoplight where I pulled up beside him. I tried to wave and got a dirty look? The light turned green and the race was on! Not for long tho, that thing would RUN and he quickly left me behind, then turned off at the next exit.

I remember Little Bradley being facinated by the tunnels through the mountains back in '80, too.

This is the Central City Parkway, a smooth 4 lane super highway with a 35 mph speed limit that everyone was adhering to. I figured it was a speed trap, but didn't see any radar units. In fact, while in Colorado, I did see lots of County Sheriffs, but I don't recall seeing anyone pulled over getting a ticket. If the roads get a little curvy, the speed limit drops to 45 or even 35 in places. I met a couple of County Mounties on this trip where I thought, "Oh sh!t, I'm more than 10% over" but they never came after me.

Back on 72 headed North toward camp. No deer moving, yet...better keep an eye out and the brakes warm, though! They come out at dusk in droves, here!!!

I rode past camp the 2 miles to Meeker Park to buy ice and check out the showers. It was 6:20 when I got there and it was CLOSED. Rural Colorado shuts down at 5pm!!! I bought a couple of sodas from the outside machine, but I need ice to keep my sandwiches and burritos from spoiling. I went back to camp and found the soft side cooler still had ice left from the day before. SWEET!!! I don't have to ride back into ugly ol' Estes Park! I changed and took a handy wipes bath since the showers were closed. Started a fire and heated up my burritos...YUMMY...everything tastes better in the mountains! I know, I know...shoulda' took some pics!

I seldom if ever drink alone, but you just gotta' have alcohol to properly enjoy a good campfire! I think it's one of those unwritten man laws? Time to reload the Captain Morgan!!!

Those 3m illuminite decals and rim strips sure glow in the red light from my headlamp! That's all I got for Day 5.

Day 6 route...ride to the top of Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in the US! I'm kinda' scared of heights, but if Geek (a self proclaimed heights weenie) did it, I know I can, too!!!

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Old 06-19-2010, 06:32 AM   #15
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Let's see Mount Evans.. although the sign at the top is tiny and somewhat disappointing compared to the sign at the top of Pike's Peak

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