A late start on the trip report as we have been out of Internet and cell phone coverage since leaving base camp at Idaho springs. I took three days to drive to Colorado Springs while Crusha, Jeff, Mitch, and Steve did it in longer stretches including a long day going from zanesville Ohio to Salina Kansas. The drives out went well and we all met at the Argo motor inn in Idaho springs. Had a great meal at beaujos in the springs Sunday evening.
Monday morning we got out of the springs about 9am, loaded up with groceries at the Safeway and headed west 70 . Holiday traffic eastbound was bumper to bumper for miles. We had it great headed the opposite direction! Got off at Georgetown and headed up And over guanella pass which was jam packed with cars at the top. We motored right on through and down to route 285. From there it was up over Kenosha pass into South Park. Can hardly believe that north bound traffic on 285 was bumper to bumper for at least 40 miles! Once again we were headed in the right direction.
Drove down through Fairplay and headed off the hard road to breakneck pass. Great trail not particularly difficult but it has its moments. It was tight with trees though and my nice 81 got her first side rashes. Stopped for lunch and did Brown’s pass another nice trail not real challenging. Drove back out to 285 and headed south again watching the parade of traffic headed north. Went down to the turnoff for Weston pass and headed west. Saw very few other vehicles from this point on. Found a great primitive campsite and got set up for the night. Had a great fire pit and a generous supply of logs for us! Greg barbecued salmon for us and served it with baked beans. A very good supper. Great campfire sessions that night the boys polished off the first bottle of bourbon on the trip but certainly not the last. Got to bed around eleven and had our first night of sleeping bags. Woke up to ice on the tents and vehicles! Figure it was about 26 degrees brrrr!!!.
Had breakfast in camp and got everything all dried out and packed up. Did I mention that we had a fast running stream adjacent to the fire ring? Was a great campsite and so it was that we left it about 10 o’clock. Headed up over Weston pass elevation about 11600 feet. Out to route 24 then south for fuel in Buena Vista. From there down to county 162 and out through mount Princeton and st Elmo. While the county work crew was working on he road we stopped for lunch right above St Elmo. Once the road crew was done we headed up to Hancock. From there I took a wrong turn and we drove up an awesome trail into an alpine basin south or east of Hancock pass. It was a great drive though and a neat. Basin. Backtracked to Hancock and took the right turn to Hancock Pass (thanks Mitch!!!) and up over the pass. Steve got some wheel time in Jeff’s truck for the best part of the climb. Took a bunch of pictures and had a blast.
From the pass we could see the road over Tomichi, I looked for the place where there was reported to have been a slide but I couldn’t see where. From there it was down the east side to the old rail road grade which we followed almost to Pitkin. From there it was up and over a damn bumpy Cumberland pass to Tincup then down through Taylor Park past the reservoir to Almont. We were lucky enough to score a cabin that sleeps six. The showers were welcome and I cooked cheeseburgers for supper. After cleaning the dishes we settled down to some poker and drinking. The boys drank Bob’s bourbon with much a fanfare and we thank Old Bob for his contribution!
Everyone had a great night sleep here in Almont and we awoke Wednesday morning to temps in the mid thirties. beautiful morning. Mitch made a great breakfast and I assure you there wee no leftovers! We’re getting ready to head out shortly andI I will continue this blog later today. Bear with me for any clerical errors as I am unfamiliar with Crusha’ apple ipod. Shmukster signing off for now. And pictures will follow as soon as we get enough wifi strength to load them.
Well today was a fantastic day. Left the cabin at Almont at 10am and headed up to Crested Butte for fuel. Everyone fueled up and Crusha hit the hardware store to get a bandage for his leaky fuel filler pipe. Got that resolved and headed south out of town for the trail to Pearl Pass. What an awesome trail it has a little bit of everyone thing including quite a few pucker factor areas. Ran into a down bound Jeep on one of the ledge sections and we had to improvise a bit to get him stashed out of the way till we could pass. Also had some unpleasant encounters with a group of motorcyclists on the ledge sections and I ended up making a group of them turn around and get back up to the top of Pearl while we drove to the summit. Of course there are awesome views in every direction. Yes the road is narrow and a bit a scary but absolutely awesome. Stopped on the way down the north side and had a bite. Jeff provided some awesome salmon and we had some good sandwiches too.
From there we missed the turn for Taylor pass and ended up driving a bit out of the way. It all worked out as Crusha used his GPS to get us reoriented. We headed up Taylor and it was a great ride. Really rocky and technical on the south side for about 18 miles! I was afraid I was gonna do some damage to my truck as it was awfully tight driving down through the creek bed, but escaped pretty much unscathed. Whew it was a long day we got to the Taylor reservoir about 6:40 and down to our cabin at 7:15 damn late quit to the day for all of us! Pictures to come as soon as we get strong enough signal to upload.
Ok Thursday morning dawned perfectly 43 degrees out. Got everyone fed and the cabin packed up by 10am. Got fuel in Gunnison and headed out route 50 to Blue Mesa. From there we took the road up to lake city on route 149 it was a nice ride with great views of the San Juans. Drove through LC and past lake San Cristobal and headed for Cinnamon Pass. Great trail not a lot of traffic. The highlight was seeing a family of mountiain goats literally feet from us. Mitch got a great video of that act. From there we ran the switchbacks up over the top and down to Animas Forks. Ran into a great bunch of young guys from Phoenix in white 4runners. From there we drove down to Silverton for the night.
Got checked in our rooms at Smedley’s. Good rooms. Supper at the pickle barrel was very good. A few of the boys went bar hopping and were not in the best shape the following morning. Friday morning we had a great breakfasts at the Bent Elbow I had a great big breakfast burrito. Drove east out of town and headed up Cunningham Gulch and on the road to Stony Pass. Boy there are some narrow shelf sections on that one! We drove to the top, took pictures and enjoyed the rain and snow that was falling lightly, then drove down the east side to pole creek to see how the crossing was. Looked like it was easily forded. Headed back up over the pass and down to Silverton to do some shopping. Supper that nigh at handlebars was as always very good.
Saturday morning. Up and out of the rooms at a little before 10am. Almost a record! Fueled up at the west end of town and headed north on 550 the million dollar highway. Perfect weather as it has been for the entire trip. Turned off at the top of Red Mt pass and followed an 80 series with four passengers for the first few miles. Interesting trail to say the least. Stopped at the top for the obligatory photo shoot at the sign for the pass. Several jeeps there and we followed four of them down the west side where it gets hairy quickly. Then it was down to he chute- scary actually when it comes down to it. The jeeps pulled over and let me lead the way down! It was white knuckle for me I was afraid I was losing my brakes. Made it through that section and then hit the switchbacks another white knuckle experience. Man I thought I was in trouble at the first switchback! Thankfully the ensuing switchbacks got wider and easier as you go downhill and we made it all the way down. Was I ever thankful for that! Had a quick bite at the bottom and from there we drove through Telluride to the airport and contiued on the last dollar road to route 62, down to Ridgway, then over to the KOA campground in Ouray. Had a fantastic supper at the BonTon in Ouray and then back to the campground and a night with “fire in a can”.
Sunday morning dawned clear and a little cool. I had slept in the truck and it was perfect sleeping weather. The boys had polished off another bottle of Bourbon the previous night. After getting the campsite cleaned up a bit we headed out about 9:30. Stopped and grabbed some breakfast sandwiches in Ouray and then hit the trail to Imogene at 10:15. Imogene happens to e my favorite trail it has a bit of everything- shelf roads, some rocks to drive around, a great climb and fantastic scenery. It’s one of those trails where you don’t want to meet an oncoming vehicle on the shelf sections as they are very tight and narrow and not much if any room get by one another. The views from the top are awesome. we ran into a group of motorcycles from Texas at the summit. We drobe down the other side past the remains of the pandora mine and mill then down into Telluride. saw a pristine 60 parked along the road into town at the rear of one of the houses.
From there it was through town again and out to the circle where we headed south on 145. Past Alta lakes then turned left and up through the town of Ophir. Beautiful country to say the least. We had an awesome ride up and over Ophir. Had to wait at the bottom to let a downbound pair of motorcycles get past before we started the shelf climb. I was of course in the lead and i could see a pickup truck way up on the upper switchback and he was on his way down. I signaled for him to pull over at the first switchback and he did. There is absolutely no room to pass another vehicle on the long shelf section of Ophir Pass.
From the top it was down the east north side and onto the hard road route 550. Took it down into Silverton and stopped at the pharmacy but it was closed. from there we went up county road 10 past the mine at Gladstone and up over Corkscrew Pass. It’s not a long pass but is certainly interesting, lots of switchbacks on the west side. Down to 550 again at the northern foot of Red Mt Pass and down through Ouray and back to the KOA. We got cleaned up and headed back to town for supper at the Outlaw in Ouray. Tracy met us there and we bought his supper to thank him for the long ride he made to join us. The outlaw is good but very pricey. Back to the campground and fire in a can with a little bit of trouble keeping it going. Greg, Mitch and I stayed in a cabin that was very nice while the others slept in tents. Another pleasant night.
Monday dawned slightly overcast. Got camp broken down, and trucks packed and we were on our way at 9Am that has to be a record! Headed north on 550 to Montrose where we stopped for breakfast at McD’s. From there it was east on 50 past Blue mesa reservoir. Construction in several places had us sitting dead in the water for fifteen minutes at a time. A bit frustrating but it was OK. Over Monarch Pass on 50 down to 285, then 285 north till we got on 24 and drove up through Buena Vista to Leadville. Rained off an on most of the day and there was thunder in the air when we stopped for fuel right before entering Leadville. Greg told us he was splitting, and going to get his tow rig and start on his second journey to Montana to look at a collection of old motorcycle parts. I decided to forego the last section of trail, too, and pushed on to Idaho Springs for the night.
Tracy, Jeff, Steve and Mitch then drove over Mosquito Pass, it is a neat pass that I’d been over before. They did the pass and drove down to Alma where Tracy headed back home to Colorado Springs while the other three guys headed north through Breckenridge to I-70 then to Idaho Springs and to the Argo for the night. The Argo is a great place to stay, not expensive and lots of room.
Tuesday morning came and with a heavy heart it was time to leave the mountains and head home. I got out of Idaho Springs at 6AM, east on I-70 through Denver, then up I-76 toward Ogalalla Nebraska and I-80. Drove I-80 east through Nebraska and got as far and stopped for the night in Iowa had been more than ten hours on the road. The boys were a little bit behind me as Jeff was picking up a boat and trailer and taking it back to VA for a friend. They got to my hotel after I’d gone to sleep and I didn’t even see them that night. Wednesday it was off onto I-80 east again, through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and into Ohio. After eleven hours on the road I reached my cousin’s place in Kent Ohio and stayed there for the night. Was good to see the family. Thursday morning I was on the road again at 7:15, and soon on I-80 in PA! Got home about 1PM and I was glad that trip was behind me. The boys made it back to VA sometime last evening safe and sound.
Got my truck unloaded yesterday and all cleaned up inside and out. There was dust and dirt everywhere took awhile to get it cleaned up. I saw no body damage but a lot of light scratched from driving through trails with bushes tight on both sides. That was mostly the first day or two once i accepted that it as gonna happen I was OK. Thought I’d have sustained some damage somewhere on Taylor Pass as rough as it was but did just fine. Also thought I was gonna get some damage from the large rock around which you have to make the first switchback down on black bear but that went fine too but not by much!
It was a fantastic trip. The drive out was 1701 miles from my house to Idaho Springs and I ended up putting almost 4400 miles on the HDJ81. Used right around 250 gallons of diesel fuel for an average mileage of about 18MPG. The truck ran flawlessly, never skipped a beat and was comfortable to boot. handled great I am really completely happy with the OME suspension and Toyo tires. The oil level on the dipstick was down only about 3/16″ after all those miles! I got so used to driving a right hand drive vehicle for those fifteen days that I had some trouble adjusting to my Subaru this morning! I believe all who made the trip will rave about it- we did a s***load of great trails, dirt roads, and hard roads in CO that all had marvelous scenery. Good days on the trail and great nights around the campfires or in the bars where we ended up some nights. We did Cumberland Pass, too, on which a week after we drove it an 80 series truck went off the road and tumbled 600 feet down the mountainside. One person was killed and another badly hurt. Terrible. Goes to show that you have to pay strict attention to the road while on these shelf trails and not be distracted by the scenery.
Hoping the boys get all their pictures posted soon and that Mitch and Steve get their videos out their for me and everyone else to see. Get that stuff out there I’m anxious to see it!!!!