Saturday, February 16, 2013

Uraling to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Three day weekend, with President's Day on Monday creating an extended time off window.  What to do, what to do?  Obviously, an overnight ride was in order!

I left the house a bit after 10:00 AM, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 40s.  Perfect riding weather in other words.  I wanted to have as much time as possible in the Salida, CO area so I took the E470/C470 slabs to cross the underside of the Denver Metro Area.  Soon I was southbound on US285 and motoring through the mountain towns of Aspen Park, Conifer, Pine Junction and such.

Traffic was pretty light and temperatures would at times dip down into the 30s but the sun pretty much kept things warm enough.  Valencia motored, with the usual effort, up the inclines leading one through Crow Hill Pass, Red Hill Pass and then came the last big one before Jefferson, CO: Kenosha Pass.  I will say that we were fighting some pretty strong headwinds most of the day, it added quite a lot to the wind chill factor!

I descended down into the valley and pulled over by the entrance of the Flying Horse Ranch.  There was some pretty beautiful mountain scenery beyond the gate, so I slowly made my way down the road towards the buildings that comprise the ranch's guest accommodations.

Yep, lots of pictures but it was quite scenic, you must agree.  I then got back onto US285, continuing to head south and soon went past the towns of Jefferson and Fairplay.  There were some dicey road conditions south of Jefferson, the winds were blowing very hard, right across the highway and causing snow from the roadside to accumulate on the highway.

There were some spots where snow had collected and melted then more snow had piled on top.  Made for some slippery traction conditions that caused me to slow down a bit.  Still, no issues once I realized to take it easy on those spots.

The roads were pretty dry once I was nearing Buena Vista and soon I was gazing upon the first of several majestic mountains that comprise the Collegiate Peaks.

I believe this is Mount Princeton

This one is Mount White, I think.

I'd booked a motel room in the town of Salida, CO.  Salida means exit in Spanish, and it's aptly named as this town resides at the northern exit of the large San Luis Valley, a large agricultural area in southern Colorado.

The objective today was to catch the sunset colors on the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountain Range to the south of Salida and the town of Poncha Springs.  US285 leads you away from these towns and towards the summit of Poncha Pass where you get your first good glimpse of the northern portion of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Summit area of Poncha Pass, just a bit over 9000 ft in altitude

I continued motoring south, enjoying the views of the snow-capped peaks of the remainder of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range.  I arrived at the town of Moffat using CO17, thinking that the National San Dunes Park was close enough to ride to.  Alas, it was another 20 miles or so to get to it and I was going to lose daylight for the sunset pictures of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

 Along Saguache County Road T, looking towards the small town of Crestone.
I turned around at this point and retraced my route back along CO17 heading
for its junction with US285.

 A view of the southern portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The sun was setting by now and I motored back and forth trying to find the best spot before the sun set into the horizon.  

About two miles or so south of Poncha Pass

Back at Poncha Pass

 I ended up back at the summit area of Poncha Pass, that being the best spot to photograph the mountains.
However, as the sun set, the shadows caused by the hills to the west caused some disappointing light conditions.

As dusk gathered, I rode back in gathering darkness towards the town of Salida.  It was dark as I entered the town but I found the motel with no issues as it was right on US50.  I got UDF'ed by the owner as I registered for the night.  Turns out, he's from Poland and he'd seen URAL rigs before.

After registering, I got myself something to eat from the local Chinese restaurant and relaxed in my room.

The plan is to get up before dawn in the morning and ride back towards the Collegiate Peaks area and hopefully the dawning sun will color those magnificent peaks in some nice light.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures above, good day's worth of riding, around 200 miles or so of riding and some really strong winds coming from the west and north!

Previous post: Five Ural Rigs challenge and win the 2013 Elephant Ride


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip.

RichardM said...

Lots of pictures but absolutely beautiful scenery. Was there a specific reason for the trip or just a trip?

VStar Lady said...

Stunning photos Charlie6 ... but looks so cold!

SonjaM said...

Amazing Vistas. What is it with the Spanish influx? Salida... Sangre de Cristo... Buena Vista... San Luis... and the likes? Its not that Colorado is any close to the Mexican border.

The scenery however looks like a perfect playground for Valencia though.

Oh, and thanks for sharing lots of photos. You can never have enough of them!

redlegsrides said...

dbigkahunna, you're quite welcome...

RichardM: no reason, just out riding....looking for snowy peaks.

VStar Lady, thanks for the kind words, it really wasn't that cold though...

SonjaM....uh, Colorado was once part of a region claimed by Spain and was explored by them. Hence the Spanish names to a lot of places....not to mention, the state itself! :) Thanks for your continued kind words...not too pictures for today's riding, some issue with the focus...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Chartlie6 (Dom):

Now you can't beat this run for stunning effects. The mountains look like exquisite Hollywood sets, set against the clear blue sky. The pictures are starkly beautiful.

I hesitate to suggest that I might be thinking in terms of a hack rig, but I may have no other real optyion left. That I might be riding an "R" bike, with a hack rig, defies description. Yet things are what they are. I am not thinking in terms of riding in the winter, I am just thinking about riding at all.

My thought was of a Gs with a side car, tricked out to suggest a lifestyle rougher than reality. Then again, a lot is still up in the air.

Fondest regards,
Jack Reep
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...

Hi Jack and thanks for the visit.

Your words warm the cockles of my heart....weird saying isn't that?

As you on a hack, I could see it. Though you mention a GS with a hack, I've ridden one and found it more cramped in terms of legroom than my Suzuki V-Strom. Perhaps that owner had the pegs raised up since he was a bit shorter than I was.

Still, a GS with a hack is an awesome adventure vehicle. The lack of built-in reverse is something to consider, not to mention the lack of a driven sidecar wheel....but then again, you say you're not going to do winter riding. (Stranger things have happened though, just look at that RichardM is doing in Alaska with his rig!)

I look forward to the development of this idea......I like it, but then again, you know of my bias.