10 October 2016

Stardate 2016.775

North and adjacent to Boreas Pass stands picturesque 13,684-foot Bald Mountain, rank 156.

Autumn Greetings From Boreas Pass!

On October second, Snowcatcher and I managed another snow-free ride up 11,841-foot Boreas Pass. This relatively high pass is located at treeline in the southwest section of the Front Range, several miles southeast of Breckenridge, Colorado. The pass straddles the Continental Divide, with the route following the historic Denver South Park and Pacific Rail grade of years gone by. Days of riding at higher elevations are waning, and it'll soon be time to dust off the planks for the snow months. Enjoy the pics.

To the west, across the upper Blue River Valley, rise the striking mountains of the Tenmile Range. Three of the peaks in this photo make Colorado's highest 100 list – known as the Centennials. They are Atlantic Peak (13,841 ft; rank 86), Pacific Peak (13,950 ft; rank 61) and Crystal Peak (13,852 ft; rank 82).

Bakers Tank was an important water stop for the old Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad.

The following pic is of Section House. It was built in 1882 as a family residence for the rail-line caretaker. A section of the house was set aside for other occasional rail workers and guests. The dwelling was refurbished in 1996 for use as an overnight backcountry ski hut that can be rented. The north shoulder of 13,082-foot Boreas Mountain, rank 583, provides the backdrop.

Success! Snowcatcher made the climb look easy!

Not to be a nitpicker, but according to my US Geological Survey 7.5 minute maps, the elevation on the sign should be changed to 11,841 feet. Or maybe the area has been resurveyed and my maps are wrong. I guess you'll have to cast your vote on who's right and who's wrong.

Snowcatcher gives some scale to an antique rail car that now calls the pass home.

To the southwest, Colorado's 96th highest peak, Mount Silverheels, touches the clouds at 13,822 feet. Mount Silverheels has a sad story behind its naming. The peak is named after a dance hall girl who danced in silver shoes at a mining town. A smallpox epidemic hit the mining camp in 1861. Well compensated, she used her own money to bring in doctors.

Instead of evacuating the town with those who could, she stayed and helped those inflicted, contracting the disease herself in the process. When the epidemic died down, surviving miners pooled $5,000 for her efforts, only to find her cabin empty. As the story goes, she remained hidden and in isolation because of her badly scarred face. Several years after the gold rush came to a close, someone claimed to have seen a black-veiled woman placing flowers on the graves of those who died from small pox.

A cloud-covered Tenmile Range trying to collect photons of light.

Most leaves had succumbed to the time of year. However, a few colorful stalwarts remained.

After a fast descent back down to Bakers Tank, I jumped onto some singletrack that supposedly would deposit me at our vehicle. I had never ridden the trail before.

The upper portion of trail was baby-bottom smooth.

The final mile was rocky and rough and demanded a bit more attention than the upper segment.

That's it for Boreas Pass 2016. I have more Pacific Northwest on the docket!



  1. Is that a new mountain bike Snowcatcher's sporting? Very nice! Mr. M wants to know if those are 26" or 29" wheels....

    Autumn is definitely more advanced where you are - the colour here is just beginning to get going and will probably peak next week. Hope you two are able to sneak in a few more snow-free rides as beautiful as this one! Glorious photos all.

    What a very touching story about the dancehall girl.

    1. No, it's a 2004 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR. The wheels are 26 inch. The rear shock is air and gas (nitrogen)charged and blew several years ago. I finally got around to sending the shock in to be rebuilt and recharged. I also replaced all the suspension linkage bearings. The bike is alive again. Snowcatcher likes the full suspension on rough downhills; it mitigates some back issues.


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