Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kebler Pass Solo, August 8-11

A few times a year I get kicked out of the house to reboot my system, it was time! Packed up the bike and headed for Kebler Pass, a dirt pass north of Crested Butte. We've ridden through there a few times, it's pretty smooth and hosts a some massive aspen groves! It's on National Forest land, so dispersed camping is legal. Took the GoPro, so get your comfy chair and a beer. Remember to maximize the video and bump up the quality!

Headed out Thursday afternoon, it's a short 4.5 hour ride over so decided to throw in Cottonwood Pass on the way there. Beautiful detour, 1/2 pavement 1/2 dirt. It was a wet day (set the tone for the rest of the weekend!), but just kept the rain gear on and enjoyed the cool weather.

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View from the top:

Made it! What's with the wacky statue??

Noticed my bike got a bit dirty going over Cottonwood... Another preview of things to come!

Kebler Pass did not disappoint! It was late in the day so I didn't get the GoPro fired up, I knew I could video later in better light. The road was pretty muddy, but it's a hard pack so it just gets a little slippy. I was surprised to find that all the offshoots were full of campers though!! Jeez, it was difficult to find a place to put the tent down. I explored quite a few by foot and on the bike, just had to keep going getting farther from Crested Butte. Got lucky, looked up one trail and it was empty! Up we go!

HOLY SMOKES that was a bad idea! While the trail didn't look bad from what I could see, it was uphill and ended up being this deep, slick mud on the left side of the track I got stuck in. I was so very proud of myself for not dropping the bike, especially fully loaded. *grin I had to keep going up and up until I could find a spot to turn around where I wouldn't get stuck. Whew!

It looked very manageable at first, easy to ride

Well, then the black mud got deep and super slick. Street tires + highway gearing + fully loaded made me happy I can flat foot!

Bottom looking up

I had to come all the way up here before I could get the front tire off the track and get turned around!

Hehehehehehehe, that was a LOT of fun! I admit I was breathing hard and grinning ear to ear. Got the bike turned around and put the kickstand pad under the kickstand so I could get off and take some pictures. Then... Well... There's only one thing in the woods that makes a noise like this:

ROFLMAO!! I guess the Ninja needed a break. My kickstand didn't even fold back in, you can see it still extended here. I guess I need a kickstand plate the size of a dinner platter to deal with this wet soil!

Pulled the tankbag and rear seat bag off, as well as some of the heavier stuff from my saddlebags. I always leave extra room in my bags, so it was easy. Got her back up and figured, heck, lets get the tripod and video the trip down! Of course it wasn't nearly as dramatic, seems the opposite track was a lot harder packed! Wish I'd known that in the first place! Ha!

Got the bike and my gear back down to the main road

I don't think the Ninja is built for this.... ;-) But man was I having a good time!!

Finally found a spot waaaay on the other side of the pass. There isn't really any civilization on this side, Crested Butte was still the closest gas station and convenience store. No problem, check out the view!

Got everything set up just before dark.

View looking the other way

Crawled in for some rather chilly sleep (note to self, bring bigger bag next time!), had a nice ride planned for Friday.

Up early for a great day in the saddle.

Quick stop in Crested Butte for gas, water for the camelback and to wash the mud off my radiator and rims. Then off we go!

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Have I mentioned before that I always fine one lane construction? ........

A beautiful spot, Trout Lake south of Telluride

Aimed for Durango to make the turn back north.

Stopped at the Pinkerton Hot Springs to don rain gear again, heading for the Million Dollar Highway.

Rain gear and all, time to enjoy the Million Dollar Highway!

What a great ride! I was pretty pooped, so had a quick dinner and hit the sack. Decided I'd take Sunday as a relaxing day, what a great decision! Enjoyed some time at my campsite and wandering around Crested Butte.

Good morning!

Kebler Pass was FULL of wildflowers!! It was obvious this area was seeing a lot of rain.

Had the GoPro running this time

Just running Kebler Pass once and my radiator was completely clogged! Another few bucks at the car wash and she was breathing easy again.

Bike clean[er], I parked and walked Crested Butte. One of the many really beautiful mountain towns in the state.

A local pointed me here for a burger and beer

Delicious! Good thing, it was 1pm and I was really hungry.

While planning the trip, I discovered Crested Butte had a rum distillery! Don't see those very often in Colorado, I had to check it out.

You get a free sample of each of their rums. A tiny, tiny sample... I tend to like barrel aged rums, and these babies are aged in Stranahan Whiskey barrels. Yum!

I regretted ordering their dark and stormy, there was very little rum in it and their homemade ginger beer was weak. The fresh squeezed lime juice was a nice touch, but not redeeming. :(

Walked all over Crested Butte to work the little alcohol in my system through. Eventually I was sick of all the people, time to head back to the peace and quiet of my campsite! Stopped for a few pics on my way out of town.

Freshly painted and very clean firehouse, complete with... lace curtains??

Stopped back at the only gas station in town for some firewood, everything up on Kebler was soaked.

A couple pulled in on a Yamaha Super Tenere FULLY loaded, a quick look and that's a European license plate! Nice folks from Britain touring the US. They were having a great time but were completely exhausted. They pulled out their map and asked for some routing pointers, I didn't keep them long as they wanted to get to Ouray for night. Wished them luck!

I think there's a tail light under there somewhere...

I could see the daily rain storm rolling in, Thursday and Friday I'd been out on the road when it hit. Time to boogie back to the campground! I didn't really feel like slip sliding around in the mud again.

Yep, great timing. Got settled in under my tarp for a nice evening.

Got the tripod out again. Big tarp means you can set up a fire even when it's raining!

It let up enough for some pictures

This pour guy was wet and cold

A sliver of open sky far to the west set everything on fire!

Light made it look like I was under blue skies, not dark clouds

Socked in valley below

Sunday morning dawned clear and cold, packed up and ready to head home

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Stopped in Vail to shed some layers and for hot water for my oatmeal breakfast

Can you see the paragliders behind me? I bet that's quite the view!

BEAUTIFUL day for Independence Pass!

Can you see the sidecar outfit coming up the hill? They stopped and we had a nice chat. Father, mother and daughter from Missouri enjoying Colorado. I took a family photo for them, he let me snap a picture of his Triumph Rocket III and sidecar. Sweet custom setup!

Incredible pictures from every angle at this pullout

Stopped at Camp Hale for a late lunch. This place is steeped in history, if you just stand still and listen you can almost hear the 15,000 soldiers training with the 10th Mountain Division. I find it's sad there isn't much left, nor does it seem much, if any, effort has been put into restoring the place into a living monument.

Mmmm shade, lunch and ebook.

From here I headed for Shrine Pass, another dirt road I like to take as a shortcut to I-70. Did manage to dump the bike gently, skip ahead to 4:20 for the excitement! Now nobody panic, there was no damage at all, I wasn't hurt, heck I was barely moving. It was more like an, "oops, gravity works" moment... It was my fault, I was going a little too fast for my bike to confidently handle a ditch that popped up around a corner. Scrubbed off almost all my speed before the ditch, but still fell over. (insert embarrassment) A nice family came along behind and even lent a hand.

Next up was Loveland Pass, this one is paved and a sweet little detour off I-70. Hardly adds any time to the journey, I do this as often as I can!

Home in time for dinner!

You can find all the photos from the weekend here. I'm trying out a new hosting site, I keep going over Photobucket's bandwidth limit... Hopefully everyone likes it!


  1. Stunning! Mothers don't like "kerplunking"! I really enjoyed this one.

    1. I himmed and hawed for days on including that in the video! Hopefully I made the right call...

  2. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this blog. I have watched all the videos twice and I am jealous of the trip. Great job and someday we will ride these roads together!
    Your friend always,
    aka Outlaw

    1. I think we could both use different bikes!! Thanks for reading John.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous. Mud wrestling on a motorcycle. Love it. How do you keep bears away?

    1. Only black bears around here, and not very many of them. Basic precautions are enough, don't even need a bear bag (aka, putting food in a bag and hanging it from a tree).

  4. This is an awesome blog Smash! Glad Outlaw posted a linky to it on da Hood - cuz I don't do the FB thing and would have missed this . . . Awesome documentation of awesome rides! Keep it up bro!

    AKA: Napom

    1. Thanks Eric for taking the time to read the post! Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. You're a nut. Good thing that little Ninja is tough.

  6. I believe that Ninja of yours has been on its side more often than any I know of! My identical machine doesn't have as many miles, but I also enjoy going a little rough at times -- off-hard-surface-road.

    I also like riding solo -- you can go at your own pace, stop when you like, stay longer if it suits you.

    My blog chronicles some of my escapades on the bike:

    I would like some day to ride the Rockies. Meanwhile, I will enjoy the nearby Blue Ridge.

    Stop by when you travel east again! ...and keep up the blogging, so we can enjoy your trips from here.

  7. Smash, once again I'm amazed by your talent in putting this all together. Only problem is that it makes me want to move back to Colorado just that much more. If and when we do, we gotta go out for some rides, just the 4 of us???

    1. As long as you don't mind stopping for gas almost twice as much as you're used to!! LOL!

  8. You ride like a pro Smash, you make all of this look super easy. I love reading through your blog posts, and envy your trips greatly. Keep them coming so a city boy like me has something to look forward to with his bike!

    1. Hey thanks!! Glad my editing techniques are so honed I look like a pro rider, ROFLMAO!