Friday, October 04, 2013

Seeking Fall Color during a Winter's Prelude

We woke today to light snow fall here in the Denver Metro Area.  It was not sticking to the roads, just collecting on the grass and trees, it would be gone by the end of the day.

In my present contracting gig, I work for Encana, who gives their employees and contractors the first and third Fridays off each month.  Such a deal.  So today, I was off and it was time to go riding North towards Estes Park which was the closest point in the region covered by the winter weather warning.

Primary mission was to find snow, secondary mission was to catch some fall colors.

I  lost some time motoring through the metro area on US285 instead of taking the long way round to the south on C-470.  The weather was blustery, wet, cold and my visor kept getting coated with ice.  For a non-dedicated snow helmet, it did pretty good but I think I'll be using my dedicated snow helmet from this point on.

I got to Morrison, fueled up, put on some rain paints and switched gloves.  The neoprene gloves I had been wearing at the start interfered with the grip covers, leading to situations where my access to the clutch lever was compromised.

I headed north on CO93 till I got to the junction with US40 and took that highway towards Idaho Springs.  Things got colder as I gained altitude but my winter riding gear held up fine, though I will admit I had the heated grips on!

From US40, I took the road to CO119 towards Blackhawk and points north.  The weather got better as I got past Blackhawk, brief glimpses of the sun became extended periods of sunlight and its welcoming warmth in the mid to high 20s °F weather I was riding through.

At Rollinsville, I turned towards the East Portal of the Moffat Railroad Tunnel and the Continental Divide near Tolland.

 The East Entrance to the Moffat Railroad Tunnel that goes under the 
Continental Divide.

 Near the junction of Rollins Pass Rd and Tolland Road

 Valencia, taking a chance at a snow sprinkled railroad crossing

 Heading back from the Moffat Tunnel, heading towards Tolland

 The Continental Divide view today, the usual majestic peaks 
were hidden by the oncoming snow clouds

Nearing Rollinsville

I got back on CO119 heading north towards Estes Park, the town that is just outside the Rocky Mountain National Park.  The intent was to get pie and coffee in town and get fuel for Valencia.  I was to be disappointed.  The pie shop has apparently gone out of business!  Sigh.

 Upon arriving at Estes Park, traffic was moving really slow, I found out soon enough the cause.  There was a herd of Caribou(?) moving slowly along the main drag into town!  I spotted two males with large antlers and wondered which one was the Alfa Male.

 This big guy was just across the street from me, Valencia was just a few
feet behind me in the gas station parking lot.

About as close as I got to Rocky Mountain National Park.
It was closed, due to the government shutdown.

Hungry and with the weather turning colder, I headed back along the same route I used to get to Estes Park.  I stopped a few times for photos, some of which didn't turn out, seems my camera is having issues focusing when the telephoto option is engaged.

 Stopping at Saint Malo's Church, between the road and the church there
was a large collection of fallen timbers, carried to the area by the recent floods.
I wonder how close the waters got to the church!

Returned to the Denver Metro Area by way of Golden, CO.  Not much further to report except a continued light rain replacing the light snow fall in the mountains.  The roads were wet once I was in the city but not slippery as the temperature had soared to 40°F by then.

Made it home after a bit over eight hours of riding in "suboptimal" weather.  I only saw two other motorcycles today, both in the city so I figure they were commuting.

Not a bad day of riding, though I am now planning to buy a new camera this weekend.  I guess my trusty Panasonic Lumix didn't survive the recent soaking it experienced during the "flood of the century" as well as I had hoped.


Unknown said...


I like all of your photos. The yellow of the trees with the white snow and of course, Valencia . . .

I was getting cold just reading your words. Too bad about NO pie or coffee just when you needed to warm up.

There could be moisture in the focusing gears inside the Lumix. Some people dry the camera in rice (absorbent). Also going from inside to outside causes condensation. Better to just leave your camera outside in the cold after it has acclimatized.

I have the old TS3 Lumix. Waterproof, freezeproof and internal focus. The new model is the TS5, or go for the Nikon AW110

you may be able to find a discounted Canon S110 because the new S120 is coming out. Up here the S120 will be $449., the S110 is on clearance for $295.

OR . . now that you are working you can look at that Pentax K5II, the watersealed one you were eyeing (wink)

Happy shopping

Riding the Wet Coast

whythedevilnot said...

Lovely photographs. Valencia blends nicely in the Autumn (as we call it here). Thanks for another great post.

Spat said...

Another good read Dom. The past 2 weeks have be a little to be desired for the fall colors on our rides. Your timing and eye have captured some great views. Rollins/Tolland is one of our favorite close in fall rides but we have not gotten there yet. Thanks for showing me what we have missed.
No problems getting in and around Estes? People are recoving from the flooding quickly but a lot has been lost, our riding areas include but minor compared to the folks that are living thru it.

redlegsrides said...

Hi Spat (John)

No issues getting to Estes via 119 to 72, roads to the east of 119, the canyon roads are all blocked As is co72 headed into Lyons from junction with you probably knew already. You can see how water has eroded the ditches on the sides of co119, I suspect they'll have to do some backfilling before winter arrives.

Steve Williams said...

Every time I see pictures from one of your rides, or almost ever time, I wish I was back in Colorado. Just great scenery, colors, landscape, URAL, weather, everything.

len@RE-GLAZE-IT said...

Wonderful pics ..... Just lovely stuff!


Anonymous said...

Great Photoghaph's. The scenery there is fantastic.
Thanks for sharing.


SonjaM said...

Oh my, how beautiful your fall colours are with the sprinkles of snow. And your steed has the perfect colour to match. The contrasts are brilliant. I'd say it doesn't get better than this. I start envying you and wish I was back in Alberta...

Trobairitz said...

Beautiful pictures Dom.

Great job on finding a little snow and fall colors. The sunshine in the photos makes it look warmer than it was.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Bob, there's some quirkiness going on with the autofocus. Sometimes a slight nudge on the telephoto button cures it, sometimes you have to switch modes, annoying.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks for the kind words John

redlegsrides said...

Steve, I imagine the wonderful pictures you would take, given the wealth of scenery's easy to shoot good pics with the Colorado backgrounds.

redlegsrides said...

Thank you Len

redlegsrides said...

You're welcome Cliff and thanks for the comments.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Sonja, though the rest of us envy you and your Germanic surroundings, I am expecting continued showings of gorgeous Teutonic scenery with Vespas and Roadsters n the foreground.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Trobairitz, it really wasn't that cold, especially when the sun shone through the clouds. Ironically it was icier in town than in the mountains!

Keith - Circle Blue said...

I loved seeing the color. We're just beginning here. Life has been very intense and I've not been leisure riding, perhaps away from the City things are progressing. We're so dry here things may just go brown.

Loved the Caribou.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Keith - Circle Blue, Fall or Autumn is progressing nicely here though warmish.