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Journey to the High Country, Pt. 5

Welcome to Part 5 of my ride report! At this point in the story, I’m nearing the end of my adventure; however, I still had a few days of fun left. Let’s pick it up in Georgetown, where I’d spent the last 2 nights…

Sunday, June 30th – Mt. Evans and South, beginning the final swings!

Today, I only had one major goal, to run to the top of Mt. Evans, where the highest paved road in the US lies. Mt. Evans is 14,265′ tall and one of the peaks that can be seen from the eastern plains, almost from Limon, 105 miles to the east (according to Wikipedia). The road itself comes up to an elevation a little more than 100′ below the peak’s and costs motorcycles $3 to access.

I enjoyed the continental breakfast and some coffee at the hotel, packed up my trash, and rolled east on I-70 until Idaho Springs, where I caught CO103 south to the Mt. Evans road. I expected a crowd, since Mt. Evans is popular with Denverites, and I was not disappointed….a long line greeted me at the entrance station. I paid my fee, received a warning about the extensive frost heave damage on the road up near the top, and was sent off with a smile.

My journey up Mt. Evans started…

The road’s not too bad in the lower portions, but just unpredictable enough, with traffic and damage, you don’t want to barge right up…

Ah, a little preview of what’s coming….a slice across the face of the mountain.

As I continued above treeline, the road’s condition got a bit rougher thanks to the wile’s of winter…

Yes, there is a view…but we’re not done yet.

The road turned into a roller coast for a while at this point…the heavy frost heaves I was warned about at the entrance.

The road continues up….this is the cut seen earlier, from down in the trees.

Mountain goats and marmots were scattered around the road…and we’re still climbing.

The road has several switchbacks as it climbs up the side of the mountain. Rider tip: Pay Attention 😉

And I made it; the GPS tells the tale, 14,195′. Note the 50 degree temps; in Idaho Springs, at the bottom, it was going past 75. With the wind chill, it was cold at the top. And yes, I was too lazy to flip my bike’s clock to Mountain Time on this trip, heh.

A view east, from the summit. The clouds were quite close, but not close enough to spoil the view.

Looking east/north; you can just see the road making its way up the mountain on the left.

A better view of the road coming up…

Feej enjoying the view.

Looking SW from the summit.

Borrowed a bicyclist to snap this shot of me….YES, it was cold, so I stayed sealed up.

Feej, a fine machine that always managed to get the job done on this trip…

Damn straight I did it…

The views from Mt. Evans are simply spectacular; definitely a must do if you have the time.

And one more look around before starting down.

Making my way back down…the traffic going up is heavy…

A little throttle and I bet you could fly….

Checking out the switchback below…

The other end…if only the road was smooth…

Approaching a switchback….I’m loving this road, despite it’s condition.

Bike pr0n…

So many neat geological features lie just off the road…

The road ahead as I come back down.

Minor traffic jam as Mr. Marmot meanders across the road…he didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

And more pr0n…looking back up Mt. Evans.

No room for error here.

Or here.

I eventually made my way back down to the visitor’s center/store, where I picked up the requisite stickers and talked to a few tourists and bikers. I popped out my map to see where I should head next; I wanted to get back home by next Saturday, so I figured it was probably time for me to start working my way south again. I wanted to run the Million Dollar Highway and visit the Four Corners Monument.

I rolled back towards Idaho Springs, blazed west on I-70, and hopped off at Copper Mountain, heading south on CO91.

Copper Mountain…I’ve lost count of the ski areas and passes I’ve ridden by or crossed over by this point, lol.

Running south on CO91…looked like pretty country coming up…

Along CO91, I passed the Clinton Gulch Reservoir, part of a huge meadow reclamation project going on across the road behind me. VERY picturesque I thought…

The road crosses the earthen dam that makes this reservoir and the other side gives you a slightly different perspective…

On the other side of the road lies the mountain meadow involved in a massive reclamation project. This valley was a massive tailings dump for the Climax Mine and now they’re restoring it, using a mix of fills, including chipped pine bark beetle-kill trees from Grand County…where my hometown is. Impressive stuff.

Just a bit further south, you run into the Climax Mine….where it looks like they’re disassembling a mountain… Sorry, the joke’s already been said elsewhere. 😉

I continued down CO91, a pretty nice ride, until it turned into US24 at Leadville. It still looked like a Harley HQ (from earlier in my trip), but this time, the rain was watering things down a bit and and everyone was breaking out their signature Harley rain suits…I couldn’t help but giggle a tiny bit. Like the first time I visited, I blew through Leadville and continued south on 24 until it turned into US285. I stuck to 285 until CO291, where I decided to divert and check out the town of Salida…I’d never been there before. As I was doing this, the wind was REALLY starting to gust as a storm was blowing in.

Along US285, running south.

CO291 ended up going through the historic part of Salida and then met up with US50….I turned west and planned to find some camping somewhere on the way towards Montrose (Million Dollar Highway was tomorrow’s target). The weather had other ideas…after getting nailed with hail stones as I approached Poncha Springs and not liking how it felt…OW!…I turned around and went the few miles back to Salida and a Super 8 I’d seen along the way. They had a large gathering of fire fighters and reclamation folks, but had one room left, so I checked in for the night and called it a day while it dumped hail and rain outside.

Remember my fall, while waiting for my pizza in Georgetown the other day? The results were finally showing up on my arm….it still stung and actually looks way too lightweight here, lol.

At least I had a fancy room…the fanciest I’d seen on this trip.

After the rain settled down, I made my way to the restaurant next door and enjoyed a delicious Buffalo, Elk, and beef meatloaf, along with a nice tasting ale.

Later that night, the storm finally cleared out…and I slept like a baby.

Tomorrow, I’d make my way over to Montrose and then south on US550, hitting the Million Dollar Highway. I was nearing the end of my time in Colorado, but I was going to close it out in style.

Continued in Part 6

Burnspot

I live in Eastern NC, work on websites all day, and enjoy motorcycling immensely. What more need be said.
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