Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wind and Snow near the Moffat Tunnel

It was nice and sunny here in the metro Denver area this morning so I thought a ride to capture the Continental Divide mountain scenery near Rollinsville was in order.

It was perhaps 21°F (-6°C) as Scarlett and I transited the metro area using the US6 super slab to get to the city of Golden where we continued on US6 as it became a two lane canyon road with lots of twists and turns as it followed Clear Creek.

There were very strong winds coming at us from both the north and west, winds that didn't help Scarlett's performance as she fought her way through the headwinds and the gradually increasing slope of the road as we gained altitude towards the gambling town of Black Hawk.

After transiting Black Hawk, we were further slowed by the sight of wet looking roads and temperatures in the low 20s.  Never did encounter ice but I still slowed the pace to at or slight below posted speed limits just to make sure.  

I tanked up a few miles south on CO72 from Rollinsville itself.  Moving onwards, I could see the mountain peaks to the west were completely covered by snow clouds; so much for taking pictures of snow-clad peaks!

Still, we continued onwards towards the eastern end of the Moffat tunnel along Tolland Road.  This road was for the most part ice and packed snow covered.  There were more cagers than I thought there would be on this road too.  Apparently, the trails were attracting many hikers and the trail head parking lot was of course near where I was headed.

The winds which had slowed Scarlett and I down since Denver hadn't abated, and now that we were at altitude they were picking up ground snow and throwing it as us in large swirls and eddies.  There were times, in fact, that the blowing snow basically appeared as dense fog.

Still, we made it to the vicinity of the Moffat railroad tunnel's eastern opening with no issues.  The trailhead parking lot was full in spite of the suboptimal weather conditions.

Eastern end of Moffat Tunnel
Sorry for the quality, I was shooting straight into wind-driven snow
particles which stung exposed skin

The high winds caused the 16°F (-8/8°C) temperatures in the area to feel much colder to me so I didn't linger long at the above location.

Scarlett and I motored away from the trailhead's parking lot and I found a spot to pose her so that I could shoot pictures and film while shielding the camera from the onslaught of snow particles carried by the gusty winds.

Here's a one minute video I shot of the conditions above to hopefully give you an inkling of the weather factors.  I would have to say, they were sub-optimal.

We retraced our route back along Tolland Road towards the small settlement of Rollinsville.  The roads on CO72 remained wet looking so progress was cautious on our part until we got back to Black Hawk where road conditions improved considerably.

Instead of heading back to Golden though, we turned from CO119 road onto US6 and  towards Idaho Springs.  We then got out of the mountains by using the US40 frontage road which parallels the I-70 super slab.  

Not much to tell about the return trip, just slab riding with heavy weekend traffic.  I was glad to get home, feeling tired and cold.  

MPG note: outbound: 26MPG inbound 37MPG.  The effect of the strong headwinds on the outbound leg of the riding, as you can see, was quite notable.

Update: We went out, Scarlett and I, to catch today's sunset which looked promising....


Bluekat said...

Well, that looks cold and nasty. Nice sunsets though.

RichardM said...

Nice pictures and video of the blowing snow. That might be a good reason to turn around, especially if visibiity was marginal.

And nice sunset photos as well!

SonjaM said...

In the future please add a disclaimer/warning: "The best way to watch the video is doing it while cuddled under a blanket." ;-)

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Gramp used to talk about the Moffat Tunnel but I don't remember the details. There was a connection somehow though quite possibly it was just that he knew some history, background, details, construction of, etc.

Looks like a great day to be out riding Dom :)

Trobairitz said...

Brrr, that snow ride just looks too darn cold. The sunset pictures are awesome though.

Is that a new header pic? I like it.

redlegsrides said...

Bluekat, let's just say the conditions were "sub-optimal" at times. Glad you liked the sunset pics.

RichardM, thanks for your comments, the wind cutting through one's layers did indeed motivate one to not linger.

SonjaM, a warning will be posted for the next such ride.

Coop, thanks for the comments...perhaps your grandfather knew someone who worked on the railroad back in the day?

Trobairitz, some parts were "sub-optimal" as I said to Kari. It was much warmer for the sunset shots, perhaps in the mid-30s!

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, yes, a new header....from when I was riding on La Veta Pass Road

CCjon said...

As I lay on the beach reading your post.... just kidding. Had to shiver just watching that snow swirl.

Sunset photo #2 is great.

Do you leave the motor running when taking the shots with the lights?

redlegsrides said...

Thanks CCJon, most times I don't have the motor running when shooting sunsets....almost had a dead battery because of that a couple of rides ago. So now, I limit the time when the battery is on....and I carry a small jump starter pack. :)

Next time I have the rig on, I'll have to see if it actually charges at idle.

Anonymous said...

You are one, brave soul! That second sunset image (with you standing there) is awesome! I would say new header worthy indeed.

redlegsrides said...

I wouldn't say brave, motoventures. You know that expression: "There's a fine line between brave and stupid?" I've been told I tend to dance on the line. ;P