Goal: Completely Ride Adventure Cycling's 'Great Divide Mountain Bike Route'
We cycled two missing link segments to join previously cycled tour legs:
The Stage Coach Lake Trail - We previously cycled the long way around the lake via the Steamboat Lake Adventure but not the shorter Great Divide Mountain Bike Route segment. Now we've completely biked around the lake.
Lynx Pass to Gore Pass Trail - We started this trail two years ago but had a tour ending campsite injury (see Lynx Pass Adventure). Interestingly, the National Forest's Lynx Pass Camp site is now closed for forestry rejuvenation and site national standards/updates.
We cycled a new leg on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Kremmling to Ute Pass (9,583' or 2920 m) near Silverthorne. There is another Ute Pass west of Colorado Springs (9,165' or 2793 m).
Each segment was a round trip on one tandem bike back to our one truck.
Many of the shadows above 8,000 Feet altitude still had snow.
We performed our first big-time 'river fording' from a bicycle, the river was fast, cold, and the rock bottom had a thin layer of slippery slime. It was dangerous.
First Leg: Stage Coach Lake,
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
Leg Overview: This is the beginning of a short make-up ride, as somehow, on our first trip from Steamboat Springs to Stage Coach Lake, we finished our ride just prior to riding over the Dam. On our second trip, we cycled up to Lynx Pass but took the long way around the lake without actually riding on the official Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR). So this time, we are just riding the GDMBR between two previously ridden points. This leg will, maybe, be a 7 mile round trip.
Above Left: Here we are, at Stage Coach Lake with my favorite traveling partners, Terry and the Bee (daVinci Tandem). There used to be a Rock Creek Stage Line that took riders from Kremmling to Steamboat Springs in two long days, via Gore Pass and what became called Stage Coach Lake. We will see the overnight station in the next travel leg - It was the only two story dwelling around, until the 1880s. The Denver and Rio Grand Railroad bypassed the station in 1877, using another route (along the Colorado River) in a few hours time, which made the over the mountain stage line route obsolete.
Above Right: This bicycle touring leg starts by crossing the Dam. Here's looking over the downstream side (handlebar bag at bottom edge of picture).
Above Left: No problem for us, we biked across. It can get windy enough to blow a rider over the fencing; plenty of warning on the sign (if one reads the Warning). It was early in the morning and the winds were calm
Above Right: We survived the ride over the bridge and the down ramp. We are officially enjoying the majestic views.
Above Left: Further along the lakeside trail and the Great Divide Route.
Above Right: Ahead is bridge over a tributary creek, then the boat ramp and finally the road that leads up to Lynx Pass (which we have already biked).
Above Left: Another look at Stage Coach Lake.
Above Right: Sign for the main road to Lynx Pass (which we have previously completed).
End of First Leg
Second Leg: Lynx Pass to Gore Pass,
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
Above: Spring is on its way, near Lynx Pass, Colorado. We saw a moose and some deer, getting to this point, but we were not fast enough with the camera to get pictures. This leg will be about 16-17 miles in each direction of a round trip.
Above Left: The Lynx Pass NF Campground is officially closed to overnight camping. The actual pass is about 400 yards/meters north with no signage, the elevation is 8,937 Feet.
Above Right: We have a stealth picnic at the same site as visited from our previous bike tour.
Above Left: Guess who dropped in for dinner? We did not feed him, but clearly previous 'Campers' did condition him. He was so brazen, that he climbed up the bike and was headed for a pannier before we loudly headed him off. He is used to humans and is probably the type of ground squirrel that would bite through a pannier or tent wall to get to the smell of food. He's obviously been rewarded by previous Campers.
As a footnote, in all of our camping experience, we've never had a bad bear experience regarding food, but we've woken to, or returned to, damage cause by rodents biting or tearing into tents, packs, and food sacks. We did have an abandoned cub come down from a tree (we never saw or heard him prior), he was bawling for his mommy, we had already pitched camp with other people, and we were all worried about being caught between that bawling cub and the mommy (sow) returning in Protection Mode. Never-Ever get between a Mommy Bear and her Cub!!! Luckily mom never returned, but the bear fell into a tent and took off through a kitchen area's pots, pans, gear, and collected food stuffs (leaving a nice mess in its wake).
Lessons: Now, when we set up camp, we look up into the trees for bear cubs and we avoid popular camps with lots of 'Campers' (like Yellowstone, where people stupidly feed wild animals or leave food in the campsite).
Above Right: On the road between Lynx Pass and Gore Pass.
Above Left: Changing zones from the Lynx Pass side of the National Park toward the Gore Pass side of the Park. The zone is bisected by Hwy 134, just out of view, over the near brim.
Above Right: Yellow Daisy-ish Buttercup variant. It is still too early in the season for most flowers to bloom; even the dandelions have not flowered yet.
Above Left: Historical Sign explaining the Rock Creek Stage Line's Way Station.
Above Right: The actual Rock Creek Stage Line's Way Station.
Above Left: The road between the way station and Rock Creek.
Above Right:Rock Creek is flooded (the best river crossing images are at thetop of the page, set as a reading tease). This image is the deepest spot, which is not the problem. Only the top of the pannier rack is above the water here. The fast water in the middle of the stream is the biggest problem area; the water is probably moving at 25 to 30 miles an hour in the main stream, as indicated by the white water. Fast water on top of algae covered rocks can lead to a trip ending experience or worse. Note that if one looks down too long at the fast water, the imagery can cause vertigo and/or nausea; for Dennis, it was best to feel the way with short steps and solid footing (like on ice); for Terry's lower and lighter body profile, it was best to look quick but spread the leg balance against the river's high velocity pushing force. Fording the creek with bike and gear was an unique experience for both of us.
In the white water, one slip and a person won't recover for 40 or 50 feet. We managed to stay dry but the water was so cold at 1 or 2 F Degrees above Freezing, with everything considered, we could not safely carry the bike for the second crossing. We had to push it through the water; i.e., all seals below the head tube got water exposure (both wheel hubs, brakes, all chains, both cranks/bottom-brackets, all pedals, and double pawl tandem chain driver). All will need complete cleaning and re-greasing within the next week (about $80-100 in total cost at shop prices). This is one of the reasons why people usually carry their bikes over water.
Above Left: Old homestead and out-building.
Above Right: We are finally nearing the forest line (Ponderosa and Aspen) and we, maybe, have 3 or 4 more miles to the Gore Pass Adventure segment that we have previously biked.
Above Left: The pre-budding stage of Aspen among the Ponderosa's.
Above Right: More altitude, trees, and snow.
Above Left: Our back trail (from near the Gore Pass summit). We came via the NF 206 dirt road but we pedaled back on Hwy 134, a hard road, to get back to our transport truck; it was downhill most of the way back. It will prove to be a classic mountain ride, 4-5 hours riding uphill, 20-30 minutes riding the same distance downhill (for fully loaded bikes).
Above Right: Here we are loading the Bee onto the back of our truck. Terry is sort of patiently engaged while Dennis snaps a picture of the process. Dennis gets to lift the rear end of the fully loaded bike onto our 'lifted' truck bed. The long bike is one inch short of eight feet, it was custom designed to fit in the back of a pickup truck with an eight foot bed (as well as to be packed into two suitcases).
End of the Second Leg
Third Leg: Kremmling to Ute Pass,
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
Above Left: County Road 33 starts on the south side of Kremmling and parallels the Colorado River for a few miles. It's early, humid, and just above freezing. This segment will be conducted as two 33 mile round trip legs. Read in your best Sesame Street 'Count' voice: Today is brought to you by the Number 3 and its multiples.
Above Right: Terry and the Bee next to the Hwy 9 Bridge that crosses the Colorado River (the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad is just out of view). All the single black pixels are swallows; there are at least a hundred nests on the side of the bridge and about a hundred swallows in the air around the bridge.
Above Left: The Colorado River is full, low grounds are near flood stage, very saturated, and green; high grounds are sage covered.
Above Right: Reeder Creek, a tributary to the Colorado, about 9 miles upstream from Hwy 9, parallels our course for another three miles or so. No wild life yet, plenty of cows and horses. Later, today, we will scare up a wild Fox and see Bald Eagles.
Above Left: A mature Bald Eagle at Williams Fork reservoir. Clearly the Electrical Power Company has added wing spread protection devices to force the Eagle to avoid wire contact. I read an article about this problem in National Geographic; the birds will only select and nest in certain locations and it is cheaper in the long run to support and protect the eagles in those special cases. Here, the nest platform was fortified (next picture - nests can weigh a couple hundred pounds) and a couple of bare wire guards will keep the eagles from spreading their wings, contacting two wires, and accidentally killing themselves (and causing a power outage). We were close enough to the nest from the road that we got a warning squawk from one of the parents (as soon as we stopped pedaling).
Above Right: An Eaglet is in the nest, the bird in the previous picture is one of the parents.
Above Left: Horses on a manmade pond on Reeder Creek.
Above Right: Terry finally got warm enough to break out her shorts and sun screen.
Above Left: View to the southwest from the intersections of CR 3 and CR 33. CR 3 will lead us south toward Ute Pass (tomorrow). This is our turn around point for today, now we cycle back to our pickup truck and start point. Yes, it sure would be nice to have logistics support so that we could just keep going in one direction, but we have to be realistic and play the hand that was dealt.
End of Today's Ride - Start of Next Day's Ride
Above Right: Not pretty, but this is the intersection of CR 3 and CR 33. Today, we start and finish the final leg of cycling for this long Memorial Day weekend. We're biking to Ute Pass and back.
Above Left: About 6 or 7 miles down the road, we see this monument. There is no indication what it is; we guess that it is an old headstone. We wished that we knew the rest of the story - We did write the Grand County Historical Society to ask.
Three months later, this is the reply from Dede Fay of the Grand County Historical Society:
A rancher found a big rock......he moved it to the top of the ridge......and built a fence around it so everyone would wonder what it was.
Yes, he just did it to entertain himself and keep the rest of us wondering. Need I remind you how long the winters are in Grand County and what qualifies as entertainment is set at a very low standard.
Thank You Dede Fay for the extra time that you spent researching this monument's origin.
Above Right: 4 - 5 miles further, we reach the Arapaho National Forest Boundary. We are still paralleling Williams Fork (river).
Above: Entering Arapaho National Forest.
Above Left: Not one distance is correct on this sign. It is about 3 miles to the Ute Creek crossing but maybe 6 - 7 miles to Ute Pass. Oh yeah, just a reminder: there are at least two Ute Passes in Colorado (both are above 9,000 feet).
Above Right: Sign indicates Ute Creek. We are starting to see signs from Henderson Industries, No Trespassing, No Hunting, No Fishing, No Camping.
Above: Huge mine tailing pile disguised as a dam, the brim road is probably two miles long. Two photo images put together.
Above Left: The sign correctly states, Ute Pass - 4 Miles. The cool thing here (pun) is that because of the Henderson Mine and Truck Traffic, the road from here (just around the corner) to Hwy 9 is paved, which makes for a very pleasant bicycling climb up to Ute Pass. We've biked through three long fresh gravel dumps on this segment (good biking challenges).
Above Right: Henderson Mill site. It is huge.
Interesting enroute pictures. Hover the mouse over the images.
Above Right: Dennis and Terry Struck (and the Bee) at Ute Pass, 9,524 Feet Elevation.
We froze our bottoms going back downhill (we left our cold weather gear in the truck) -
It was a marvelous adventure!