Saturday, December 22, 2012

Post-Mayan End Of World Ride to Echo Lake

Now that all the end of the world doomsday scenarios associated somehow with the Mayan Calendar ending yesterday are behind us; I thought I'd take a ride to find some snow in the mountain roads near Echo Lake.

Echo Lake lies near the junction of CO103 and CO5.  CO5 is the road up towards the summit of Mount Evans and it's closed for the season.  CO103 links Bergen Park and Idaho Springs, kind of paralleling the I-70 Super Slab and providing a rider some very nice views of nearby mountain peaks once you get above the treeline.

I transited the Denver Metro Area using US285 which I took to the small foothill town of Morrison.  From there it was twists and turns along Bear Creek Canyon Road, through the small towns of Idledale and Kittredge till I arrived at Evergreen.

Cruising though Evergreen, I followed CO74 until the turnoff for Upper Bear Creek Road.  This is a narrow two lane road with swanky residences on both sides of the creek.  Mind the curves and the blind turns!  Soon enough I got to Golden Willow road for the first show of distant snow covered peaks.

On Golden Willow Road

Turning back, I got on Witter Gulch Road to climb up to CO103 a.k.a. Squaw Pass Road.  This dirt road was covered with a thin layer of packed snow, liberally sprinkle with sand so traction was not so much of a problem.  There was a bit of fishtailing on the hairpin turns since one has to maintain momentum while turning but nothing heart-stopping.

I got onto Squaw Pass road and cruised the 10 miles or so to Echo Lake, keeping my speed slow as this paved road was mostly covered in snow and packed ice.  Ironically, temperatures up at altitude were warmer than they had been down in Evergreen!  It had been 13°F down there and it was almost above 32°F at the higher altitude!  Weird.

I basically had the road to myself, that and the balmy temperatures made it an easy going ride towards the summit.  

 Mount Evans Summit Peaks

Another view of the Mount Evans Summit

I got to Echo Lake and found it frozen over but quite scenic.  It was nice and sunny, with very little wind up by the lake, good day to take a hike around the lake for instance.

 Echo Lake

The closed entrance to CO5 and the Fee Station
for the Mount Evans Summit road.

Turning back and retracing my route, I stopped briefly at the usual overlook for the "on a clear day you can see forever shot".

A few miles further, I came to the junction of CO103/Squaw Pass Road and Squaw Pass Trail where the pass summit sign is located.

View of distant peaks, from Squaw Pass Trail

Continuing to retrace my route back to Witter Gulch Road, it was easy coasting down this snow packed dirt road, glimpsing a herd of deer along the way.  I realized, on the first hairpin, that one has to slow way down otherwise you end up in the oncoming lane.  Usually, not a good thing.

The rest of the day's ride was paved twists and turns on CO74, back through Bear Creek Canyon, past Red Rocks Park and into the town of Morrison once again.  I got home around 2:30PM or so, with temperatures now in the high 40s and low 50s in the metro area.  

There's rumors from the weather guessers of snow on Christmas Eve, I am hoping they are correct.


RichardM said...

Beautiful photos. I especially like the frozen lake. Was the ice thick enough to support your rig yet?

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, no idea re the're not allowed on the lake....whether with boat or rig! Thanks for the comments.