While driving to Albuquerque, I just happened upon the sign to Angel Peak Scenic Area, I simply crossed my fingers that it was a BLM resource (my favorite) and a mile down the road I saw the sign confirmation. This place was a real treat. At first glance it appears very similar to Bryce Canyon (I have only seen pics). The fact that it is one of a very small handful of remote spots that you can actually CAMP on the side of a canyon makes it VERY unique – try that in any Nat. Park!
Riding across the “green table” was good enough for the stop, but seeing the amazing ruins, and learning, in fact that there were more people living in this area (30,000)around 800 years ago, than are living in the area today. There are a LOT of people living here now. Seems a bit hard to imagine when you think about it. After my ride, I noticed my clutch cable is coming apart, so I waited in Cortez to order another one for Albuquerque, which also happens to be the site of the 9-day International Balloon Fiesta, starting this weekend!! Now, onto Four Corners to do some looking around on the way south.
Driving over to Silverton from Ouray was made even more interesting due to the snowfall from the day before. A bit frightening being stuck all winter in a volcanic caldera, I decided it was time to head a bit south. The bus does not like high altitude anyway, so I figured it was a good move. Now the question becomes, should I continue to ride back up into those amazing mountains, or should I continue south/west to explore new territories?
To push me in one direction, answer the poll below.
Spent a couple of days scouting, exploring and testing the areas around Ridgeway(north of Ouray) looking for the most interesting areas that I have not seen yet. Endless riding down dirt roads, but the mud and the cold rain kept me to dipping toes mostly below 10,000 feet. Partly cloudy and warm, everywhere around the San Juans, but 43 degrees, and raining on top. Got lots of good timelapse, and saw many new things, places, and stops.
The rain kept pushing me away from the tallest mountains, and finally a big storm came blowing in right on me, and chased me all the way into Ouray, and made me drink a beer……brrrr it gets cold up there. So not only is the rain keeping me off the mountain, the weather is changing rapidly, as it snowed all over the brown-tops I have been looking at for a week now.
One of the most iconic, rugged passes in the world, Black Bear Pass is a short route between Ironton and Telluride. In fact, I found out that the central, and most difficult section is ONE WAY. In other words, if you get to a point where you find you are in over your head, and decide to turn around – you can’t! I imagine quite a few people have gotten to that point. I had watched quite a few videos of motos traversing “the steps”, but had no idea how steep and narrow the steps were until I was well into the Point of no Return. None of the difficult elements of this section, by themselves are overwhelming. Steep, narrow, rocky, slippery, off-camber, 2-3 foot steps, deadly plunges, all these elements can be overcome easily. When combined in one, 200 foot section, hanging off of a 80 foot waterfall, and a 90-deg. turn at the final step, creates a might intimidating final pitch before you get to the 1,000 foot plunges below. This was one of the most difficult crawls I have done other than Poughkeepsie Gulch just a few miles away. Man, the miners really knew how to make some crazy roads. Wonder how many people have died on this pitch?
Sunday was a short ride over to Utah, via Uncompahgre National Forest, then into Paradox Valley. This was the route I first took back in 2011. Great day of goofing off, riding and reminiscing.
Engineer Pass is part of the Alpine Loop, and I have been up there 4-5 times, and it is always a breathtaking ride and experience – much like a rollercoaster, and it never gets old. The temps drop about 20 degrees from Ouray, and it is always good to bring another layer or two. Being up here makes me understand why people climb mountains like Everest, and sometimes die trying. It is truly exhilarating, and your loss of breath can be blamed on the altitude, or the view.
I did some exploring on the way back, and ran into some old mining structures I noticed from the top of the mountain. Turned into a great side trip, and pointed out all the fantastic finds I have been missing by blazing thru in the past.
Yes I was here last year. Yes I blazed thru in the bus, early in the morning, and was not that impressed with the canyon (the light was not good, it was cold, (Les Dude was les miserable) and I was pissed I could not drive down into the canyon. So I spent 2 days riding in and around the canyon this year, and I had a much different experience. Yesterday was spent working, so today I get to explore the passes of the San Juans.
I only had 3 more weeks before they close everything up on Grand Mesa – 40 feet of snow prevents much activity. The punctured sidewall of my tire prevented me from having any REAL fun up there, so once again I moved for repairs, by-passing more of awesome Colorado. Fortunately there is much more awesome to be had in this state (if the bus holds up). Hanging out in Montrose for a few days waiting on packages, and a tire in the morning. Lots of awesome within range of this town if I can get a tire mounted in the morning.