Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Ride

First Day of Winter, though the temperatures have been quite cold and also quite warm here in the great state of Colorado, today would be a day spent in below freezing temperatures.

I left the house shortly before 9:00 AM and headed west through Denver's Hampden Avenue, aka US285 until I left the metro area and arrived at Morrison.  I continued westward through the mountain towns of Idledale and Kittredge, not much of a snow accumulation to be seen at all.

Transiting through Evergreen, Valencia and I diverted onto Upper Bear Creek Canyon.  We watched the crowds skating and fishing on the frozen lake on the west side of Evergreen as we wound our way towards Witter Gulch Road.

The distant peaks were partially hidden in mist and fog today.  Valencia and I then turned onto Witter Gulch Road to ascend towards CO 103, aka Squaw Pass Road.  This is the road that leads one to CO5 which is the Mount Evans Road; it was of course closed for the season.

Spotted the above bucks, two of four total along Witter Gulch Road

Upon reaching Squaw Pass Road, I turned left and ascended slowly towards Echo Lake.  The road conditions weren't bad at all.  Hardly any snow/ice covering the road until perhaps the last mile or so before Echo Lake.

 Peak Views as one rides on CO103 towards Echo Lake

The clouds pretty much obscured the views of Mount Evans and the peaks visible from Echo Lake so Valencia and I just proceeded on down towards Idaho Springs.  Surface conditions were a bit "less optimal" for two-wheeled vehicles on the western portion of CO103.  There were some pretty long stretches of road that were completely snow/ice covered and I had to adjust my speeds accordingly.

Close to Idaho Springs, there's the turnoff for the West Chicago Camping Area run by the National Forest Service.  I'd been down this road a couple of times, never having quite made it to the campground itself.  Today would be the day.  The road conditions started off fine, but as we got near the campground, I started loosing momentum on the snow covered trail.  Soon, I was stopped and had to move out of the way for a cager behind me.

Once the cager was past me, I engaged the 2WD lever and Valencia strongly pulled onward and upward on the trail.  We made it to the campground shortly afterwards and I decided this was a good time to try the snow chains on the pusher tire.  The chains took perhaps ten minutes to put on seven of them of pusher tire, I elected to not put any chains on the front or sidecar tires.

 West Chicago Camp Ground

Not the steep part that temporarily stopped me, but you can
get an idea of the snow cover on the road.

Valencia and I ended up in Idaho Springs around 12:30 PM.  The weather had soared into the mid-20s from a low of perhaps 19F near Echo Lake.  It was almost balmy as I motored slowly through Idaho Springs to snap these pictures:

 That's I-70 behind the fence, I've always wanted to stop and take a picture
of the frozen waterfall, today was the day.

 The view along Riverside Avenue, in Idaho Springs.

 The ARGO Gold Mine, you can apparently tour it when you're in town.

 I liked those small mine cars

After Idaho Springs, it was frontage roads back towards the Denver Metro Area.  I entered via US285 once again and stopped at Fort Logan to visit the son of a friend of mine.  Long time readers of this blog know I try and visit this particular grave site; the final resting place of Staff Sergeant Brian J. Joiner, USAF and pay my respects.  Last weekend, the 14th, was Wreath Across America Day, and I had asked the organizer for Fort Logan National Cemetery to have one placed at Brian's tombstone.

I was happy to see that the wreath was still in place, I hope next year to lay it in person after the ceremony; other duties prevented me from doing it for this year.

Thanks for your service Brian.

Valencia and I having finished our visit with Brian, we motored onto our home neighborhoods via the usual routes.  About 130 miles covered today, with temperatures ranging from 19F to about 30F, and an occasional view of the sun.  Pretty good riding day overall, hope you got some riding sense wasting this time on travails such as Christmas shopping!  :)


SonjaM said...

The red of the mine building seems to be appropriate for the season. The frozen waterfall is an eye catcher for itself. Thanks for getting out there. Wishing Happy Holidays from Germany, SonjaM

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM! Wishing you and Roland and Merry Christmas as well!

Deb said...

Beautiful areas! I've never been out west, but someday hope to come out there.

Who says winter is not a time for riding?! Pshaw!

Lots to see and enjoy...great post!

Trobairitz said...

A great ride, but chilly brrrrr.

I really liked the frozen waterfall. Perfect for Solstice. Here's to longer daylight!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and Martha and family.

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, thanks and a Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Deb for your kind words.

RichardM said...

Nice photo of the waterfall and the stamp mill at the mine. It looks to be in really good condition.

Merry Chriatmas to you and your family!

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Richard, Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!