Saturday, November 01, 2014

Uraling along the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway

A long day in the saddle today, glorious weather mind you, but still a long day in the saddle.

The idea started out as an exploration of forest roads in the area near Red Cliff, Colorado.  Some email discussions with Dana W., a fellow Uralista who lives near Vail, CO changed the objectives for me a bit and while a new trail was explored, it was more riding on grounds I'd covered before.

I left shortly after 7:00 AM and by 8:45 Scarlett and I were crossing the Continental Divide using the Eisenhower Tunnel while slabbing it on I-70 west bound.

By 9:30AM, I had turned off I-70 and had arrived at the small mountain town of Minturn.  Shortly after leaving town, I came upon a sign showing the way to Tigiwon Road, one of the roads I'd picked for exploring and recommended as a nice ride by Dana.

Upwards Scarlett and I rode, the forest road was strewn with rocks and boulders but not the worst road I've ever ridden.  The pace was slow as I was stuck behind this pickup truck with hunters slowly making their way up the trail.

Finally, the truck keeps going up as we reach the Tigiwon Community House and I parked to check out the view of the Gore Range.

 A slightly disappointing view of the Gore Mountain Range

The view from a logging trail near the Tigiwon Community House.
I ran into more hunters at the end of this logging trail so it was time
to leave this forest road before I was mistaken for elk!

Continuing on US24 Southbound,  you climb on curvy mountain roads with some nice views of forested hillsides and mountain tops.  All the leaves on the Aspen trees are gone, leaving pale ghostly tree trunks and branches standing amid the more numerous pine trees.

Soon enough, one arrives at the bridge near the small town of Red Cliff, which spans over the Eagle River.

It is at the town of Red Cliff where one can get on the road to Shrine Pass.  I have ridden this road before and today would not ride all the way to the summit.  Instead, the idea was to see if I could get a good look at Mount Holy Cross.  This particular fourteneer was made famous by the sighting and photographing of what appeared to be a giant cross on the side of the mountain peak:

source Denver Public Library

Shrine Pass Road was not as rough as the conditions on Tigiwon Road but it had it's moments.  There were long stretches of snow covered road, boulder and gravel sections and as the day warmed up, mud where there had been small amounts of snow.

I did detour down an interesting side trail where I found even more snow!  The trail led further up and up and after one sharp hairpin turn I almost tipped the rig over on its left side due to the camber of the road!  Close call but I kept my wits and got the rig stopped and back on its wheels.  This incident "took the wind out of my sails" you might say and I decided to turn around back to the main forest road.

The snow and camber of the road made things a bit dicey on the way back
to the main forest road; I had to engage 2WD to maintain a straight course.

Finally back on the main forest road, it was two turns later and I saw this great view of not only Mount Holy Cross but also other peaks which are part of the Sawatch Range of Mountains.

 Mt Holy Cross is on the right of the set of mountain peaks

 Just before the Mount of the Holy Cross Overlook parking lot.

Once I got to the overlook's parking lot, I walked for perhaps five minutes in the sometimes snow-covered walking trail and reached the wooden platform where one can observe the distant Mount of the Holy Cross.

 Some nearby pine trees frame one's view of the distant peaks.
The above picture is at 16x Zoom

Bracing the camera on the banister, I got this shot of the 
peak at 32X Zoom using digital enhancement.  Can you see 
the area where the snow might form a cross under the right conditions?

The overlook is 7.5 miles from Red Cliff and so I turned Scarlett around and headed back into town.  From there I continued on US24 and soon enough I was passing by the remnants of Camp Hale where the famed 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II.  Not much remains, except a small valley where the division was house.  More details and pics from my first visit to Camp Hale here:  LINK.

Along US 24, south of Tennessee Pass

Continuing on US24, one soon arrives near Leadville, the country's second highest incorporated municipality.  I took the turn to put me now northbound on Colorado State Road 91 and was soon approaching the large mining operation near Fremont Pass.

Just before Fremont Pass

North of Fremont pass, there's a couple of areas which are quite scenic.  The first one is a water reservoir surround by mountain peaks, one of my favorite spots to stop and take pictures when I am in the area.

Just a little bit further on, heading North on CO 91, there's this spot where one just has to stop for a quick picture:

This would be the last picture of the day, the rest of the afternoon was spent riding back towards I-70 and using it to speedily, well at URAL speed anyways, make our way back to the Denver Metro Area and home.  I made it home shortly after 5:00 PM, ten hours of mostly riding and almost 300 miles covered.  A good day of riding!


RichardM said...

What a great trip. I think my favorite photo is the last one of the day. I like your mountains!

SonjaM said...

Looks like you are collecting shots for a 2015 Ural calendar. Great pics, Dom. My favs are the panoramic views in #14 and 15.

Glad you managed to avoid tipping over the rig. I believe we all have had these pucker moments at one time in our motorcycle career.

VStar Lady said...

Beautiful pictures - worth the near tip (glad you kept your wits.) We haven't any snow yet, but I can wait.

Steve Williams said...

Some great shots in this post Dom. You really are fortunate to be able to ride through the mountains and valleys of Colorado.

Glad there were no pictures of an upset URAL. I know the feeling of the wind taken out of the sails after a close call. Has happened more than once on the Vespa as I was pushing a bit too hard.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

redlegsrides said...

Alaska has some beautiful mountains too! Now let's get that blue and white rig of yours on the Glen Highway, the mountains along that road are spectacular!

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM, the incident got my attention for sure! Glad you liked the pictures!

redlegsrides said...

Thank you VStar Lady, the snow was soft so damage would have been minimal I think, still I'll take all the luck I can get!

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Steve, praise from you is always appreciated. As to close calls due to pushing the envelope, you'd think both of us would have learned by now, wouldn't you?

Trobairitz said...

Wow a great day for riding. Love that last picture too.

Good thing you kept your wits about you. Forest roads with cliffs on one side aren't the best for practicing your Scarlett tipping abilities.

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, it's sometimes a tricky mix of turning radius, road camber, traction conditions and maintaining forward momentum on an upslope....that day, I misjudged the camber and traction....I've done that once before on snow....hmmmmm