Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saint Mary's Glacier and CO 103 Vistas

Another beautiful day for riding here in Colorado. Temperatures would climb into the low 80s down in the Front Range but I would be riding most of the day in the high 50s and low 60s. My destination was the small town of Saint Mary who's claim to fame is the Saint Mary Glacier apparently.

I'd seen the sign for Fall River Road and St. Marys many times while transiting I-70 westbound to Loveland Pass and points beyond. The exit is located just west of the last exit for Idaho Springs and can be easy to miss if you're not in the right lane once you pass the town limits for Idaho Springs.

Fall River Road, follows a mildly winding path along the river with thick pine forests on both sides. Soon you come upon a few hairpin turns taking you further up in elevation. The road is nicely paved up till you end up at Silver Lake at which point it turns to packed dirt and gravel.

I cruised on past Silver Lake and explored the dirt roads which led away from the lake. Found myself next to Lake Quivara and posed Brigitta accordingly:

Lake Quivara

Here's the view at the end of a trail called St. Mary's Court. It's about as close as I could get until the terrain got GS-worthy and not something for Brigitta.

Near the end of St. Mary's Court Rd

Further exploration of the roads proved fruitless as they tended to dead end into dirt cul-de-sacs. I rode back towards Silver Lake and posed Brigitta next to the water crossing one must go through. The crossing is part of the drainage for the lake apparently; not too deep closer to the lake, a few inches perhaps.

Brigitta's first water crossing

I rode Brigitta across the water crossing twice, with no issues. Kind of fun in a way but I am sure it'd be less fun if the water proved deep enough to either get in her air intakes or up her exhaust pipes! This isn't the first time I've had to cross water on Brigitta but flood zones in low lying areas in the city don't count.

Here's another view of the mountains containing St. Mary's Glacier, which apparently is just a perennial snow field and technically not a glacier as it does not flow according to the entry in Wikipedia.

I elected not to park at the trailhead for the base of the St. Marys Glacier, it was a 3/4 mile walk and being in motorcycle boots, I just did not see it being much fun.

I rode back towards the Interstate on Fall River Road, taking a detour down Rainbow Road to see how far I could get. The road starts off easy enough, just packed dirt and small rocks.

Riding down Rainbow Road, I think that's Parry Peak in the distance but it also could be Mt. Eva

A couple of miles down the road though, it got rockier and rockier. Steeper and steeper it got and finally I stopped and turned myself around when all I could see in front of me were large rock outcroppings with barely any dirt between them! Definitely a road I'll have to ride on a GS someday.

Back on Fall River Road, I made my way past the hairpin turns that remained past Rainbow Road and got on I-70 heading east.

I got off at the CO103 exit at Idaho Springs to ride that lovely loop of paved road which takes one past Echo Lake and the entrance to the Mount Evans Road. Traffic was light and the sun made the high 50s temperatures bearable.

You'll recall it was on this road where Brigitta lost her input spline gear and I was forced to get a tow truck for her. I am happy to report no such issues today with the replacement transmission.

After going past Echo Lake, I came upon a nice distant vista of mountains along CO 103. I took many shots and these two came out the best. Yep, they're of the same stop but one is a closeup and the other tries to give you a feel for the bigger picture:

this is the best shot of the day, in my opinion

Finally, before leaving this scene, I give you a panoramic shot: warning, big file.

I continued on CO103 and shortly after Juniper Pass came upon this view of distant peaks:

I continued riding down the mountain on CO103, enjoying its twists and turns as usual. I got caught behind several slow moving cagers but it was still enjoyable to feel Brigitta respond to my steering inputs; its as if she was showing the road that she wasn't afraid of it or what had happened to her transmission the last time we were on this road!

I cruised through Bergen Park and Evergreen, and took CO74 through Idledale, Kittredge and Morrison. Headed south from Morrison to US285 which I took northbound into the Denver metro area. The rest of the ride was just city riding back to my home neighborhoods.

184 miles today, about six hours or so in the saddle. Not too bad. Some really interesting dirt roads to be ridden in the St. Marys Glacier area, someday. Still, I am really happy with how Brigitta did on these roads before I turned back.

Hope you got some riding in today.....


Anonymous said...

excellent blog, keep it going.

KEN PHENIX said...

EXCELLENT! I wish I could have been there for this ride too.

bobskoot said...


I would just love to follow in your wheel-tracks. I love being in tune with nature, but preferrably with someone as experienced as yourself. I am sure that getting lost or breaking down in the middle of no-where, is no fun

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I had a dream in which I found a magic lamp, rubbed it, and was confronted by a genii, who offered me 240 wishes. For wish #239, I requested that you be transported to Terrace Avenue, in Jersey City, NJ. "Let's see him make a panorama out of that location," I said to myself.

For the record, dream #238 was that Bobskoot, IronDad, Conch and myself would all join you on your next mountain ride.

I envy the fact that you can get out to the country so quickly. It simply isn't possible here. For me to get out into the wilderness (deep woods with mountains) is a six to eight-hour ride -- one way. And I am just not up to it as the arthritis is getting worse.

Yet you are offering me no choice. In two weeks, I am going to take a ride that will get me great pictures -- mountains (sort of), open water, history, and adventure. It will bring me through the worst traffic, and miserable riding conditions. It will be a return to my youth. And I intend to it alone. It will be a minimum of 300 miles and I am thinking of spending the night up there.

Spurred on by your success as a moto-journalist, I tried to write a moto-journalistic kind of story. I may have succeeded to a degree, but my personality keeps surfacing despite my best efforts.

You are forcing me to grow up.

There are some great shots in your current episode. I would love to live in that little cabin on the end of Sait Mary's Court. And there is another more primitive cabin farther on that looks like a hunting camp.

So how deep was the water in the water crossing? There is a reference to inches, but how many inches -- two or eight? Was the water flowing with any force, or sort of moseying along? Could you see the bottom? Was it paved and smooth, or just as nature intended?

You are aware I got a new computer on my way down to the BMW MOA rally. It is fast and deadly. You mention that the panorama shot was a huge file. This panorama opened in the time it took me to click on it. I'm staryting to feel like I'm gettin my money's worth out of this.

Once again, you have produced another great post that has simply raised the bar for adventure and photography.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

WI Fatboy, thanks for your comment, glad you like the blog.

Ken, dood, just move the business up here....then we can go riding more often.

bobskoot, breaking down sucks, luckily I had company the last time it happened, and Ken's phone had a signal...saved me a bunch of walking! I wouldn't call myself experienced, more like foolhardy.

Jack, #239? Did the 237 other wishes involve lewd acts with loose women at least?

It would sure be quite the ride, if all the ones you named were together....that is if we didn't kill each first vying for witty comebacks and insightful remarks after a few beers.

As to how deep that water crossing was, could not have been over six inches, clear view of the pebbles at the bottom, running smoothly and not too swift. The water came up to the hubs as it splashed up but perhaps covered the rim.

thanks for your kind comments, I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

Charlie6 said...


I thought the panoramic shot was larger, it's only 96kb. hmmm....

irondad said...

I've been in water deep enough to flood my air intakes and seep into my exhaust pipe. By the way, no bike was involved!

Should I be flattered or scared to be in Reep's dreams? It would be awesome for us all to ride together.

Great photos, as usual. No wonder you're now an official motojournalist. Did you ever consider the photographic possibilities of painting Brigitta bright yellow? :)

Charlie6 said...

Irondad, thanks for your to painting Brigitta bright yellow, nah...classic black is just fine.

now, a yellow R100GSPD, aka the that'd be something!

As to riding together, next year's National Beemer Rally is in your neck of the woods, you may see Jack and I show up.....have beer ready.

irondad said...

I heard from one of my students this weekend that the rally would be in Redmond, OR next year. What are the dates?

P.S. I just figured a bright yellow bike would show up more dramatically in the scenery photos!

Charlie6 said...


The site *IS* Deschutes Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, Or.

The dates *ARE* July 15th thru 18th, 2010.

re the yellow paint, yeah, it would stand out nicely....but it has to be on a R100 GSPD, aka the bumblebee

I want one

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

It will be too hot to ride for the rest of the week. I am disabling "Fire Balls" for some cosmetic work. I am planning a ride up to Lake Placid, New York, for Labor Day weekend.