Monday, September 18, 2023

Day 3 at the San Luis Lakes SWA: Medano Pass

 Sunday, September 17

A good day of riding today.  I left camp shortly before 9AM and rode in brisk mid-40s temperatures the 20 miles or so to the trailhead within the Great Sand Dunes NP.

The sun was out, and kept things warm enough, especially once I started moving under 25 mph due to the conditions of the Medano Pass Trail.  It's signed as a Primitive Trail, and a sign warned that 4x4 was required.

When I saw this sign, I thought to myself: Uh Oh.

Still, I figured I'd continue and see how things go.  The first stream crossing was pretty long and though I tried keeping my boots dry by raising them as I rode on the stony creek bottom, it was no use.

The "stability" conditions were suboptimal, so I ended up using the legs as outriggers, and of course getting them wet as they went into the water.  Once my boots were full of water, it didn't matter as much so I just negotiated the next 3 water crossings with no issues.

I achieved no points for "style" mind you, but I didn't drop the motorcycle either.  Note: all stream crossing pics shot on the way back to the park from the pass.

Stream crossing number 5 almost proved my undoing.  I wasn't going fast enough and the engine stalled in the middle of the stream!

I got off Yagi, the after putting her in Neutral, pushed her to the far shore.  The water wasn't really deep in any of the crossings, knee high at worst.  Took a while to get her started again, but start she did! 

I realized I had to transfer the camera case to the tank bag, the hope being I could hold the motorcycle upright if she stalled again.

At some point, I crossed the western entrance to the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve.

The next few crossings weren't an issue, more soaking of the boots of course but no falls.  There were a few rock-strewn portions on the trail that were a bit technical but only one spot where I almost biffed it but managed to stay upright.

This is the one muddy portion that I, like others before me, bypassed by going to the left and over the grass bordering the obstacle:

Finally, I made it to the eastern entrance of the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve.  I made it to the pass!  Sadly, no majestic views, it was all forest.

A couple of signs marked the pass:

After a bit of rest I started heading back towards the National Park.  I took pictures on the way back, feeling more comfortable astride Yagi as I negotiated rocky sections, stream crossings and the frequent 4x4s on the trail.

Note: On the creek crossings that were longer, I would walk across first with the camera bag, then cross back to get Yagi and then ride her across.  No sense taking chances!

I made it back to the GSD NP soon enough, and I took pictures of the sand dunes as I slowly made my way back towards the main entrance.

At the Sand Pit Picnic Area where I took another break:

More views of the Great Sand Dunes as I motored towards the park entrance:

Some views of the dunes shot with the telephoto lens, can you spot the people?

Parting views of the dunes, as I left the national park:

In case you wondered why the dunes
formed here

Yep, a good day of riding.  The sunset's parting light wasn't too bad either:


CCjon said...

Great adventure story and write-up. Love the photos.

Glad you and the camera made it thru okay.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks CCjon, it probably wasn't too smart to do that ride alone, but plenty of four-wheel drive vehicles kept going by so all good.

SonjaM said...

Crossing the rivers would have had some serious pucker moments in store for me... I guess I would have chickened out of this. Kudos to you Dom for negotiating the wet challenge. Cheers, Sonja

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, I will admit to several moments of worry And one of panic. When the engine quit in mid stream, that was panic. I think she stalled because water got in where the exhaust pipe comes out of the cylinder....keeping the revs up in subsequent crossings helped.