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A nice, partly sunny and at times very windy day here in Colorado. My new job designates Good Friday as a paid holiday so today was a day for riding!
I left shortly after breakfast, say around 8:15 AM and took the back roads down to the town of Parker. The weather was partly cloudy and cold with sometimes a very strong wind. I crossed the town of Parker heading south along its main drag, Parker Road. At the south end of town I then went along Crowfoot Parkway and eventually got to Castle Rock. A short hop over the I-25 Slab and I was heading north on US85, passing the town of Sedalia and eventually arriving at the entrance for the E-470 westbound slab.
After that it was a short quick dash on this slab until the Wadsworth Blvd exit and from there onto Deer Creek Canyon Rd. I was there to try and find my missing Leatherman multi-tool. I'd not seen it since my eventful ride this past Sunday and was hoping it had fallen out of its pocket on my tool holder which I keep clipped to my riding pants.
I found the spot! Note the small hole I'd dug to enable more room for swapping out the rear wheel last weekend. This is along Deer Creek Canyon Rd, looking east, just before Grizzly Rd.
That's Deer Creek with its banks full of underbrush, this was the spot where I'd gone to pick up a rock
to prevent my rig from rolling while I jacked it up .
And there it was, my multi-tool! Can you spot it?
Now that I had enjoyed such good fortune in finding my multi-tool, I figured the rest of the day would be frosting on the cake! I headed up further into Deer Creek Canyon and this time managed to spot a wall-like rock formation which I'd missed on my previous rides on this great canyon road:
To me, it looks like Nature had created a retaining wall
I kept going and took the Deer Creek Rd turnoff towards High Grade Rd and Pleasant Park Rd. These twisty narrow paved roads would eventually lead me past still snow-covered farming fields and some cold temperatures. I arrived at Conifer and tanked up Natasha, taking the opportunity to put on the ATV grip covers as it was only in the high 20s in that area.
I rode down to Foxton Rd which is the first exit from the gas station I usually use in Conifer. Road conditions on Foxton Rd were dry but there was lots of sand and gravel on the pavement. Soon enough I was at the junction of Foxton Rd and West Platte River Rd. I got onto the river road which is a packed dirt road with many curves, some of the blind curves so watch yourself for oncoming traffic. The road parallels the West Platte River of course and you eventually reach a small group of houses near what is called the Rock Dome:
The Dome Rock
After Dome Rock, it was just the occasional old house or two before I reached the remains of the Platte Hotel. I went past the small bridge and paused to take this picture of the confluence of the West Platte River and the South Platte River. Note how the West Platte's water is clearer than the muddy water from the South Platte:
Where the West and South Platte River meet.
Continuing on, it was the usual rock canyon walls bordering the South Platte River which as usual drew my eyes to the rocky formations, it's a very scenic and enjoyable piece of road. I arrived at one of my favorite picture taking spots, the big boulders in the river:
I always stop for a shot of these boulders, it must have been quite the sight when they first came crashing down from the top of the rocky canyon walls! I made my way to where the pavement begins again, about ten miles north of Deckers. Along the way you pass these small settlements and I stopped at the sight of an old gasoline pump I'd spotted on previous trips:
A fuel pump from a bygone era, somewhere north of Ox Yoke
I made it down to Deckers and crossed the small bridge over the South Platte River, the sign indicating it was the way to the YMCA Camp. I was thinking it might also lead to the nearby Cheesman Water Reservoir but it turned out to deadend at the YMCA Camp where there was construction work being done. I turned around and on the way back to CO67, I posed Natasha via a view of the fly fishermen who ware fishing along this dirt road:
Along the YMCA Camp Road, apparently a favorite for fly fishermen
Once back on CO67, I headed north on it towards US285, looking for the sign that would lead me to Cheesman Reservoir. I soon found it, just shy of the Cheesman Trailhead. I turned off onto this forest road which is also known as Wigwam Creek Rd and was soon at the furthest point one can get for now. I had the reservoir in sight but work was still underway with signs stating the reservoir is closed to the public until May of 2011.
Cheesman Reservoir, scheduled to open May of 2011
Although it was a bit dissapointing, things looked up as I was making my way back out. There was another dirt road leading off to the left as I was riding back out on Wigwam Creek Rd, Forest Rd 211. There was a small wooden sign stating: "Lost Valley 7 miles". How could I not take it right?
The packed dirt road, with some rough washboarded sections, ran through part of the Pike National Forest area which was devastated years ago in the massive Hayman forest fires. The area still looks pretty desolate with burnt out husks of tree trunks outlined against the sky and many rock formations now exposed to the casual observer.
My first photo of "unnamed rock", I would end up near its base by the end of Goose Creek Rd.
Pano shot of the way into "Lost Valley"
I continued on Forest Rd 211, getting closer and closer all the time to what turned out to be an unnamed rock formation shown above. The road is also named Goose Creek Road and leads to the Lost Valley Dude Ranch I found out.
Closer and closer I got to "unnamed rock"
Note how the valley floor and hillsides were bare of trees, the result of the Hayman Fires
I came to the end of the road, the entrance to the ranch which is apparently a lodging place. I turned around just past the entrance and spotted the amusing words carved on the top portion of the ranch's gate:
The sight one saw when exiting the ranch must have been truly amazing before the devastation and destruction of the Hayman fires. I hope the area recovers someday, the hills just don't look right, denuded of trees with just their burned out husks and fallen tree trunks covering the sides of this hilly valley.
A view of the devastated hillsides, it was the same as far as I could see in all directions.
I retraced my route on Goose Creek Rd, waiting to the occasional car headed in to the Lost Valley Dude Ranch. Soon I was back on County Rd 126 heading northwards to the town of Pine and Highway US285. I turned north on US285 and it was cruising time on this slab all the way back to the Denver Metro area.
As usual, it was US285 or Hampden Rd which I took across Denver back towards the I-25 Slab. I took this slab south to where it junctions with the I-225 Slab, did the death merge onto I-225 with no problems and soon was at the Parker Rd exit. The usual roads soon had me at my home neighborhood around 4:15 PM. It had been perhaps 7.5 hrs of saddle time on a mixture of paved and dirt roads, covering about 200 miles or so I think. A really good day of riding on Good Friday!