Today's entertainment brought to you by our peanut feeder! I haven't filled it in a while, man they all went bananas. I counted one squirrel, three bluejays and over a dozen magpies! Dante watched from the safety of the window, or hiding behind the door frame, lol. Jax had a blast. Derby decided her bed preferable to these shenanigans. LOL!
When Jax first realizes what's going on.... "OooOOOoooooOOoOo!!"
Thursday, October 2, 2014
September means fall trip time! We didn't get to do one last year so we were super excited. Perfect timing to check out our wedding venue in Ouray and sort out some details in person too. We knew we'd have to leave Derby atleast once, plus back and forth finding restaurants/activities/etc we were leaning towards taking the Subaru. Final straw was a good chance of wet Saturday afternoon and a certain wet Saturday night and Sunday morning. 4 wheels it is! Ended up doing almost 700 miles, 7 major passes and quite a few dirt/muddy roads (all of which we've done on the motorcycles). Dash our trusty Forester did a great job shuttling us around.
The fall colors were incredible. Karla's camera skills were even better!! Have a sit down and grab a beverage, loads upon loads of photos for this report.
A full day Friday meant we could check out Guanella and Cottonwood pass as well as preview a bunch of campgrounds for a possible ST-Owners.com (motorcycle forum) event we want to host next summer. Here's our route:
We got off early enough to miss the heavy traffic, took I-70 straight up to Georgetown, which started as a silver mining camp at 8,530' established in 1859.
You head through town and the other end spits you out at the base of Guanella Pass.
Looks like we'll get some good color!!
Wildlife traffic jam!! We waited and waited for these folks to move on... Ended up going around...
Bighorn sheep found a mineral deposit
Here you're looking at Mt. Bierstadt, probably the easiest and most popular "fourteener" for hikers. Elevation at the summit is 14,060'. Beautiful place. Elevation of Guanella Pass: 11,670'
Love this view going down the south side, even better with the changing aspens
South side is dirt, for now. They're working on widening it this year and paving it next year.
A bit of a break while we (and a long line of friendly leaf peepers) waited on the pilot car
Next up Kenosha Pass, 9,997'. This place is ALWAYS a zoo in the fall, no matter the day. Easy to get to on a major state highway and relatively low elevation. No problem, folks were polite and the color is worth the minor hassle.
We'd be on 285 for a while, more great views
Derby does well napping in the car, especially when the sun is just right!
Ha. Shot in Fairplay. Must be a mountain guy.
Lunch down a dirt road in the Four Mile trail system near Buena Vista.
My favorite are the aspens with all three colors: green, yellow and red. Red has been a bit uncommon in recent years, but it was everywhere this year!!
Love this shot Karla got of Derby
Down into Buena Vista
Back up towards Cottonwood Pass
Oh yeah, great color up here!!
LOTS of red!
Just past the summit, 12,126'. Back to dirt!
Taylor Park Reservoir
Poor Dash needs some fresh suspension (although the oversize offroad tires make it look worse)... Hopefully by Christmas!
Back on pavement heading towards Almont.
Blue Mesa Reservoir
LOL, check out the size of this apple...
I had intended for us to camp in the National Forest on the south side of Ridgway... Weather decided otherwise! Found ourselves a NF access sign on the north side and [mostly] out of reach of the rain.
We fiddled around on the dirt roads back here, changing our mind on direction once as the road deteriorated. What a blast though! Great views, cows, and we chased rainbows!!
Quite possibly the best picture of the trip!
Finally made the NF boundary!
Can you see the buck? He definitely knew where to hang out, we saw plenty of hunters. The following two pictures are some of my favorites from the trip.
We did more wandering up Owl Creek Pass... No offshoots and we had to come back down, but again worth the effort!
Hunter's F150 parked ahead
Photo doesn't do this justice. At all.
Back down closer to the NF boundary we found ourselves a spot at the end of an offshoot. Derby's on squirrel duty while we setup camp.
No more shots that night... We got in late and wanted an early start, had something special planned for the morning.... Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!! Pancakes and bacon!! A first for me on a campout.
Next we headed to Ouray and spent the entire day working with the wedding planner, choosing restaurants and a bar, scouting more campgrounds and generally enjoying the incredibly warm weather! We're in Ouray almost every year this same weekend and I couldn't believe we were in shorts!
Saw about 10 Ferrari's in town enjoying the weather and colors... Pretty things.
Ouray is a mecca for offroad driving. Draws some interesting rigs. More in the summer, but Karla did snatch a quick picture of this.
Having a snack break and rest at a cute little church
After an incredibly full and ridiculously productive day we headed back to the campsite, hopeful the weather would hold off long enough to allow a campfire...
It did!! An hour or two of a nice, hot campfire while we watched thunderstorms light up the sky around us. Karla tried to video but it didn't turn out. :( Homemade cider and honey vodka went excellent with our stuffed chicken breasts. Mmmmmm. Rain eventually chased us into the tent and we fell asleep to the sound of:
Woke up early to more wet, as expected. But holy COW look how beautiful! I wouldn't mind breaking camp in the rain more often if it looked like this. Fog rolled in and out as the rain increased and decreased (but never completely stopped).
Can you see the snow?? That's fresh!! I wish the clouds had cleared more for a better view, this was as good as it got! The rest of the morning we were completely socked in.
And then they were gone...
I love our wagon, kept me dry making a quick breakfast.
Trusty double wall tent, weather was so warm (relatively) it was a bit overkill. This morning was cooler, but still almost 50 degrees!
And then it poured.... We waited a bit to see if it'd slow down, but no such luck. Oh well, this is why we brought the Subaru (and our rubber boots)!! LOL, Karla loading up the roof bag.
Glad we didn't camp off the original forest road we tried out... It was clearly hardly used and would've been a bear in these conditions.
Right, our route home! Rain schmain, we are nice and dry and have a heater. The weather makes the colors pop even more!
Look who else is headed home....
CO135 north towards Crested Butte
Heading towards Kebler Pass... We could tell it was going to be great!!
You cut through Crested Butte and the other side spits you out on the road up to Kebler Pass, elevation 10,007'. It's mostly dirt. Really sloppy, messy stuff in the wet as they use mag chloride to keep the dust down. I found out last year on a solo camping trip it's not a fun wet road on two wheels (http://smashrides.blogspot.com/2013/08/kebler-pass-solo-august-8-11.html), was happy to be in the Subaru today.
What a treat, so much red.
Watch out for the
It was cold with the windows open and Karla taking pictures... She fixed it for me... LOL
Are you ready for a TON of amazing aspen pictures?? Here they come!
Pulled off the main road down into a big grove for lunch
Lunch with a view
Run!! LOL. Can you see Derby?
It was really hard to leave that place... But we do have to get home at some point!
I really like this one
Love this too with the ranch
Headed north, up and over McClure Pass, 8,763'. Karla napped so no pictures.... Grabbed 70 east then hopped off again and did Battle Mountain Pass, 9,200'.
From there we head down through Red Cliff, another old silver mining town. Founded in 1879, population less than 300. You can't hardly see it from the road, it's a neat little place but certainly not much there. You skirt the edge of town to snag the dirt road that goes over Shrine Pass. I love this road and ride it often, it's a great way to avoid Vail and a far more scenic route instead of 70 on the west side of Vail Pass. Oh, elevation 11,089'.
Colors up there were past peak unfortunately, but did snag this on the east side heading down towards the interstate:
Home stretch down 70! Karla was amused by the itty pitty aspens...
The sunset in Silverthorne, our last stop. Maybe someday we'll get to live up there.
What a trip!! So glad we went. Certain things just have to be done in person and we accomplished a lot more than I expected. Add in fantastic fall colors, vistas, dramatic skies, warm weather (well, until Sunday!), camping and a campfire and well, can't top all that!!
Full album here.