Monday, August 06, 2012

A Summer Day on Mount Evans, Colorado

A pretty hot day forecast today, Sunday, for the Denver Metro area. I left the house while things were still in the high 60s, low 70s of the early morning and met a co-worker at his hotel in Broomfield, CO. Mike P. was in town to meet both myself and Dan H, we all work for TIAA-CREF in the Network Services Firewall Team.

After some time lost while I lost my bearings leaving the area of Mike's hotel, we finally got onto 88th Avenue which eventually lead us to its junction with CO93. We kept going west towards CO72 once we crossed over CO93 which becomes Coal Creek Canyon Road.

We twisted and turned our way through the high rocky canyon walls, cruising past the towns of Wondervu and Pinecliffe, ascending and descending via hairpin turns and distant vistas of bare mountain peaks through the thickly forested roads eventually ending up on the Peak to Peak Highway just north of Rollinsville.

Our first stop on the Peak to Peak Highway was the lake at the border of Gilpin and Boulder Counties, the distant mountains reflecting on the calm waters of the lake. We continued heading south on CO72 and and turning onto CO119 which took us past the gambling towns of Central City and Blackhawk. Eventually, we connected with US6 which we took west towards Idaho Springs and the western end of CO103, which one must use to get to CO5, The Mount Evans Highway.

A quick stop for gas and beverages, we then got onto CO103 and slowly ascended up towards Echo Lake. This lake marks the nearby location to CO5 and the fee station which marks the start of the Mount Evans Road. Some kind of event was going on and it was only $3 for each of use for the entrance fee!

Upwards we climbed, Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol pulling cleanly and strongly in first and second gears; past the timberline and soon onto the rocky expanses spanned by a mountainside hugging road. Fourteen miles is what you traverse to the top of Mount Evans. 

Most of the road is nicely paved, but watch out for frost heave conditions near Summit Lake!
It being a beautiful day, and things being forecasted for the 90s down in the Denver Metro Area, the top of Mount Evans was crowded with people and cars. 

There was a line of folks walking the last quarter mile up the pile of boulders trail to the highest point of Mount Evans. Both Mike and I elected not to walk up this last bit of trail, content to stand next to the sign announcing we were above 14,000 Feet.

We slowly escaped the crowded parking lot after perusing the sights at the top. We stopped often to take pictures, sometimes to wait for all the long horned sheep and white mountain goats and their kids to have their pictures taken by tourists in their cars. 

There were a lot of goats and their young kids amongst the rocks, so there was a lot of stopping while folks clogged up the narrow mountain roads to get their pictures.
Eventually, we reached the lodge near Echo Lake and had us some pie!

We motored on after this snack, continuing eastward on CO103, through Juniper and Squaw Pass, twisting and turning as we sometimes rapidly descended from Echo Lake. There was quite a bit of sand and gravel on some of the hairpin turns coming down from the mountain but being on three wheels, no problem. 

There were many motorcyclists out, going up and down the mountain. I have to think though, those riders without helmets must have been wishing they'd worn helmets, when we were rained/hailed on while coming down the mountain! It was smaller than pea sized hail and it didn't sting much at all, but it made quite loud pinging noises on my helmet.

We reached the area near Bergen Park without further incident, turning onto eastbound I-70 for a short spring until we reached the Genesee exit and took it past the Buffalo Herd Overlook and onto US40. We wanted to avoid the usual frantic chaos of traffic on Sunday afternoon on the I-70 slab you see.

We cruised along, getting warmer with each mile that we got closer to the Denver Metro Area. Soon enough, we were past Golden and feeling the 95°F temperature quite well, thank you very much! Cruising up CO93 towards the CO72 junction felt like riding through a very large oven, with seemingly blood warm air rushing by us.

I got Mike P. back to his hotel, safe and sound, his first sidecar ride and first Fourteener accomplished. I rode back home using US36, US270, I-70 towards the eastern edge of the Denver Metro Area and was home soon after 5:00 PM. 

Hope you like the pictures, it was about 52°F up on the top of Mount Evans, over forty degrees in temperature difference!


RichardM said...

I really like the photos of the Ural on the ledge. Amazing that they made a road over fourteen thousand feet in the U.S.

redlegsrides said...

Hi Richard, thanks and actually, we've got two fourteeners that one can drive up to the top. Besides Mt Evans, there's Pikes Peak.

Oz said...

I have ridden up Mt. Evans twice and it is so awesome. The views are amazing. Great photos.

Oz said...

I have ridden up Mt. Evans twice, it is so awesome. Great views. Your photos are great.

Unknown said...

Nice, Mr. Chang.

You're looking very pensive atop that mountain.

Behind Bars

BeemerGirl said...

Love the photos. So funny that I just watched (No Name)'s video riding up Mt Evans.