Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crested Butte, Schofield Pass and a Bear, Oh My....

Worked all morning and past 4:00 PM remotely from the campsite.  The plan had been to stop work at 3:PM, with nine hours on the clock but last minute issues and user errors postponed my departure till after the rain storm that pounded the area between 3-4 PM.

Before I take you on today's ride though, some pictures of my campsite accommodations:

 I am in one of apparently only five "tent cabins" at this site

 My Tent Cabin, #9

 Spacious, don't you think?

My tent cabin lies by the camp's perimeter fence, this
morning, I saw a deer and its fawn just walk by.....

It was still lightly sprinkling as I geared up but it all cleared up by the time I cruised through Gunnison and took CO135 North out of town towards Crested Butte.  It did rain one more time on me, heavily, as I approached Crested Butte but as I was still wearing my rain gear, it was no big deal.  Just another reminder how quickly weather can change here in this great state, and how summer rain in Colorado is anything but warm!

Approaching Crested Butte 

It's only 30 miles or so to Crested Butte from Gunnison so in no time I was at the city limits.  The town is quite small, typical ski resort tourist trap but it was clean and neat and folks waved as I rode by.  The intent had been to find Gunnison County Road 12 on the south edge of town but I failed to spot the sign.  I ended up riding through town, not so distant glimpses of gorgeously colored mountain tops teasing me northwards until I left Crested Butte and found myself on a dirt road labeled Gothic Road.  I saw signs for Schofield Pass and it sounded interesting, and it was in the direction of the gorgeous views so why not right?

Gothic Road is an easy dirt road, with some rocky portions but overall pretty easy.  The views along this road are simply gorgeous.  I know, I keep using that word, but trust me, the mountains to the north and west of Crested Butte are simply beautifully green and colorful this time of year.  It's apparently the height of the Wildflower season but I didn't see much of those.

I got to and went through the small settlement of Gothic in the blink of an eye.  The road the got narrower and steeper as one approached closer to Schofield Pass.  In fact, there was a point where Valencia started bogging down and I couldn't get forward motion up a hilly portion of the road.  Disappointed, I turned her around and started heading back into town.

Not a mile down the road though, I stopped, let her cool down for about five minutes and "girded our collective loins" for another attempt.  This time, I kept her in first most of the way there and once I got to the portion that had defeated me before, got a good running headstart and just nailed the  throttle while running Valencia up the hill!  I have to say, she did great!  The trick apparently is to "attack" the steep portions with heavy throttle and first gear.  There was very little need to "slip the clutch" though there were two times I was forced to do so when encountering cagers coming down the mountain.

Making steady progress and experience no "burnt clutch" smells, Valencia and I made it (actually shot past, we had to turn around) the sign for Schofield Pass!

Made it!

Feeling victorious and ever more confident in Valencia's abilities, we started back down the way we came as continuing on this road involved ten more miles to the town of Marble and I didn't have the time to do that.

Running back down the mountain from Schofield Pass Summit was much easier as you can imagine, using just engine braking to basically "coast" our way down to lower elevations.

Approaching the settlement of Gothic

Back in Crested Butte, this time I managed to find the small Elk Loop Scenic Byway Sign and followed it to Whiterock Road which eventually leads one out of town onto Gunnison County Rd 12.  This road is also a very smooth maintained dirt road with a paved section as one nears the junction for either the Kebler Pass Road or the Ohio Pass Road aka Gunnison County Rd 730.

I didn't have the time to go the extra 11+ miles to the summit of Kebler Pass, that will have to wait till the next time I am in the area.  Instead, I looked for Ohio Pass as a quite doable pass reachable via the dirt road that is County Rd 730.  There was no sign and before I knew it I realized I had negotiated the summit with no issues and started riding in a downward trend for about 24 miles to Gunnison.

Ohio Creek Road, is quite scenic in terms of farmland, and cattle and horse ranches.  They are very large spreads and given the recent rains, very green and verdant.  It's a very enjoyable ride on a motorcycle if a bit lacking in mountain scenery.  What mountains could be seen were in shadows due to the setting sun at my back so no really good pictures.

I did see off to the west this weird looking rock formation on top of a nearby mountain, I'll have to find out what it is.

Do you recognize this mountain top?

Shortly after I shot the above shot, I spotted a dark object in the middle of the road.  As I neared, it moved! I quickly stopped Valencia, perhaps less than 1/4 mile from what was a young brown bear!

My first bear sighting while riding....

We looked at each other, I frantically dug the camera out and managed to snap one decent shot of the bear before it turned around and ran off into the woods on the side of the road.  I rode forward slowly and managed to see the bear's hind end as he disappeared into the thick bushes and trees.  Pretty cool, my first bear encounter.

The rest of the ride was more scenic farmland, giving way to suburban homes as I got closer and closer to Gunnison.  Dinner was fast food as it was getting dark by this point, it was close to 8:30PM, perhaps later as I arrived back at the campsite.  Quite a ride, don't you think?


Andrew Thomson said...

Wow, love the look of those gravel roads! My DL would love a chance to gobble them up.

Yet to see a bear in my travels...

Andrew Thomson said...

Wow, love the look of those gravel roads! My DL would love a chance to gobble them up.

Yet to see a bear in my travels...

Low Buck Rider said...

One of those cabins would be great fro traveling with tiff.

Low Buck Rider said...

One of those cabins would be great fro traveling with tiff.

cpa3485 said...

It looks pretty green there. That's good! Many years ago we had camped in a real tent near Taylor Park Reservoir, not too far from where you were I believe. It's a beautiful part of the state.
Great pictures again, Dom.

RichardM said...

I love the pictures. It's a beautiful area. Nice to be able to escape the smoke and heat.

You should just work your way towards eastern Oregon.

Unknown said...

Beautiful country Dom, really beautiful. Jealous is an understatement on par with calling politicians useless.

Behind Bars

redlegsrides said...

Thanks for reading this stuff, except for the spots with really large rocks, they were pretty fun.

redlegsrides said...

Low Buck, it sure beats schlepping the tent/mats/cots!

redlegsrides said...


It rained heavy each afternoon that I was there, wish it would do that closer to home.....I got home to stifling heat. Thanks for your comments.

redlegsrides said...

Richard....I was tempted re the upcoming motobloggers meet but couldn't swing the logistics.

redlegsrides said...

Brady, the uselessness of politicians needs not saying, it's naturally implied...

How do you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving..

Thanks for your remarks.

BeemerGirl said...

Beautiful! I love that you can just turn Valencia down any old dirt road you desire. I'm shy with the GS, and Oilburner can't exactly follow on the RT.

I love the name Gothic for town. Where there any full time residents there?

Nice bear encounter. At least you didn't encounter mama bear too.

redlegsrides said...


Yep there seemed to be residents there....the town is home to a state biological lab of some sorts.

Trust me, I didn't want to meet mama bear either!

David Troya said...

Great post and pictures. How could I find that campsite with tent cabins? Do you have a link/address/name for this site?


redlegsrides said...


It's the Gunnison KOA