29 September 2017

Stardate 2017.745

Here Today
Gone Tomorrow
Another Secret Stash

Snowcatcher and I made a mad dash to the west slope for some aspen color in some of the state's better autumn color palettes. Old man winter just edged us out in places. Despite lots of wet and white, we still took in some color. The day was very long; yet it was worth every minute.

We'll start the post at about the 10,000-foot level of elevation. This is the transition elevation between the Montane (aspen/spruce) and Subalpine (spruce) forests at this latitude. The weather was cold, windy, slippery, and taking a toll on leaves. Onward and upward into the clouds...

Needle Rock: To the left, and out of view, is the English mansion and estate of the late Joe Cocker (think 60s music and Woodstock). He operated a restaurant in nearby Crawford for years. Peaks of the West Elk Wilderness rise in the background.

This pic is from high on the North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River.

Below is a short reach of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

North Rim of the Black Canyon


Dusk caught us at the base of 13,822-foot Mount Silverheels. This is the 96th tallest peak in Colorado.

The End!

Hopefully more leaf adventures to come.


16 September 2017


12,987-foot Peak 8

Seasons Be A Changing

High country leaves are beginning to change, and fall is in the air! I wanted a late season ride at altitude. Off I ventured to the Tenmile Range to prospect some colored, two-wheeled fun. I was a bit early; leaves in this area still have 1 to 2 weeks until peak color.

Initially I rode the Breckenridge Ski Area Peak 9 access road to hasten the climb to more than 12,000 feet in elevation. My plan was to ride the access road to the Wheeler Trail, hook up with the Colorado Trail on top, drop to Copper Mountain Ski Resort, then swing around the northern terminus of the Tenmile Range on a bike path, ultimately catching the Peaks/Gold Hill trails to my vehicle.

If that sounds like a haul, it is; I didn't quite make it. I needed another 2 to 3 hours of time. As you'll see below, I was close. Nonetheless, I had a 2 p.m. turnaround because I needed to be back in the Denver metro area by 5:30. The following pic portrays a diminishing 4x4 route reaching treeline on 13,195-foot Peak 9.

Breckenridge Ski Resort is huge. Adjacent to my north was the Ski Area's Peak 8.

Below is a juvenile stand of bristlecone pine. This species occupies the krummholz and can live thousands of years.

The following zoomed pic shows what I needed another hour or two to accomplish. After leaving the 4x4 track, the switchbacks of the Wheeler Trail top out at 12,400 feet, at which point I could light the afterburners and quickly drop into Copper Mountain. Nonetheless, the bewitching-hour had arrived, and I disappointingly aimed the Black Pearl down.

Breckenridge lies at the base of the lower slopes of Peak 9.

Hopefully there will be more leaves to come.


21 July 2017

Stardate 2017.553

Enchanted Wedding Bells of the Chihuahuan Desert

Ahoy mates! Snowcatcher and I traveled southwest to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the marriage of her neice. The southwest, especially New Mexico, is quite enchanted. New Mexico's slogan—Land of Enchantment—is also quite apropos.

We caught a flight out of Denver International Airport to Albuquerque and drove the rest of the way to Las Cruces. Snowcatcher spent her youth in Alamogordo, an hour and a half east of Las Cruces. Thus, she made a great tour guide for me. She knew the good eateries along the way as well. If you're ever in Socorro (home to New Mexico Tech), try the Blake's Lotaburger (I understand it's been there since God was a boy) and make sure to get it smothered in Hatch green chili. Mmmm...............

Anyway, enjoy the pics, starting with a cleared for take-off from DIA shot.

Good morning sunshine!

At a cruising altitude, we were high and dry above a fog bank.

The wedding aisle awaits its chairs, guests and wedding party.

This is a real century plant (yucca family). Every 100 years or so, it blooms.

The Chihuahuan desert is stark, beautiful and deadly, all wrapped up in one package.

This is a rain squall delivering the goods to a parched landscape.

There are a lot of different cacti here, including this large stand of prickly pear. Snowcatcher expressed interest in canning these. Another time.

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (Socorro vicinity)

That’s it for this round. Thanks for reading!

04 July 2017

Stardate 2017.507

A Snowcatcher Photo


Ride the Rockies is Snowcatcher's gig! She got me into it — I've done 6 now — and it's something you need to check out if you're a cyclist. I think you'll find yourself wanting more. Sadly, orthopedic conditions sidelined Snowcatcher from this year's ride. However, she did SaG (Support and Gear) and escort me around host communities and lodging, which was nice.

Day 4 of the Tour had been a huge day. It tossed me 84 miles of mountain riding over three passes. Much of the route was above 9,000 feet in elevation. Consequently, Coal Bank Pass (10,640 ft), Molas Pass (10,910 ft), and Red Mountain Pass (11,018 ft) took their toll on my aging legs. I just wanted to enjoy the awesome B&B Snowcatcher secured for us in advance. The following pic is looking south from our B&B toward the Sneffels Range, San Juan Mountains, Colorado. As a side note, I grew up about 1.5 hours to the north of here, and the locale made me a tad homesick.

Day 5 was a short "rest ride" along a scary, high-use roadway (State Highway 550). So we played hooky instead and journeyed to one of our favorite areas — the East, Middle, and West Forks of the Cimarron River. Twelve years ago I proposed to Snowcatcher high in the Middle Fork Basin, and as they say, "the rest is history."

Following are more pics from the area. All three basins were still snowed in. They should open up for access in early July. The Cimarron Forks begin high in the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area. This area initially was called the Big Blue Wilderness, which I liked much better. Uncompahgre, loosely translated, means dirty water. Oh well... Enjoy!

The next pic is from Owl Creek Pass (11,120 ft) and the access road to lower West Fork Cimarron.

Precipice Peak (13,144 ft, rank 529) is framed in the background. My marriage proposal occurred on its backside, high up the Middle Fork of the Cimarron.

Snow temporarily marked the end of the West Fork road. There's still jeep road before reaching a trailhead.

The airy summit of Chimney Rock rises to 11,781 feet.

Numerous volcanic rock formations line the West Fork. The volcanism in this area is often beyond spectacular.

A member of the Lily family — Veratrum tenuipetalum
Also known as False Hellebore, Skunk Cabbage, and Corn Lily; it will average 4 feet in height.

The East Fork Cimarron is on the left, and the Middle Fork is on the right.

I love how dandelions enhance high Montane meadows. Do you?

That's it for a while. Thanks for reading.


06 June 2017

Stardate 2017.430

During a recent evening ride, the moon slowly ascended over Waterton Canyon, sharing a portion of its perpetual journey.

Spring is Giving Way to Summer

Hi folks! I haven't been writing because I've been busy doing other things during the evenings, plus I wanted to take a breather from the computer. Nonetheless I have a few pics taken during recent bike rides. So, let's let the show begin with my usual bike-in-the-road shot.

Vegetation has greened nicely.

The farther up the canyon one travels, the more complex and wild the views become.

Evening low-angle light is sharp, yet a tad nebulous as a whole.

Bike cockpit...

This book was at my turnaround. Not my type of reading, but if you have any insight, do enlighten us.

Thanks for reading.


07 May 2017

Stardate 2017.348

Juniper Pass

Juniper Pass — Where's the Juniper?

I took a road ride from Bergen Park to Juniper Pass via State Highway 103. Bergen Park is a stone's throw west from the Denver Metro area at an elevation of 7,791 feet. Juniper Pass sits at 11,140 feet elevation; a bit high for juniper, I believe. It was a bluebird day - warm even at 11,000 feet. The elevation gain for the ride is 3,349 feet over 15.1 miles.

There was a fair amount of sand on the road, causing the descent to be a bit slower than usual. Nonetheless, it is a well-earned descent. Moreover, this pass is the first major ascent in the Triple Bypass, an event I've ridden numerous times. The first photo is the start of Highway 103, just outside of Evergreen, Colorado.

My obligatory bike in the middle of the road shot.

Squaw Pass sign indicates you're more than halfway. In common English, you know the cat's in the bag. Although there's yet another 1,333 feet of elevation gain.

The Front Range comes into view.

Grays Peak (14,270 ft, rank #10) and Torreys Peak (14,267 ft, rank #12 ) come into view as well.

As the pass approaches, so does 14,264-foot Mount Evans, the 15th highest peak in Colorado.

This road used to be fairly weathered. Now, it's baby-butt smooth asphalt.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.

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