Crawling Across Colorado, Part 3

Again. Lots of pictures of trails and mountains here. I think they’re all amazing, but some may find them repetitive. Bear with me!

I left Silverton with a full stomach and open mind. Mike convinced me I could ride the final 4 sections of the Colorado Trail, which started just outside of Silverton and headed for about 75 miles to Durango. While I would normally cover 75 miles on an easy day on the road, these 75 would take me 4 days.  Read on to see why!

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 Out of Silverton I rode SR 550 to Molas Pass where I caught the trail again. Immediately it climbed up into stunning mountain valleys…

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 Much of the trail over the next 75 miles would traverse extremely steep hillsides on a very narrow trail with high exposure/risk. Tough to stay balanced on a wobbly touring bike in these conditions, climbing a steep trail at 3-4 miles per hour, knowing that losing my balance to the left would result in a long tumble down a rocky mountainside…

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Is the Colorado Trail worth all that climbing and dragging the bike up over rocks, roots and ledges? Yes.

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The final climb up to a high pass between Molas Pass and Bolam Pass.

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When the trail wasn’t on a steep hillside or too rocky to ride, it was often a very narrow trail (this section was about 8” across), deeply cut into the grassy valley so that any veering off of the center would result in my catching a pedal on the grass, setting me off balance. No matter how I traveled through this terrain, it was slow going.

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 Day 2, I reached Black Hawk Pass. Amazing contrast between the red clay, the green trees, and the grey of the granite.

 

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My second night out, I camped on the edge of a huge bowl, overlooking the mountains in all directions. I stopped early at this site, so I could take in a perfect campsite, amazing view, and thrilling sunset.

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I awoke the following morning in time to see the sun rise over the same valley.

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Day 3 of 4, “riding” through Indian Trail Ridge. This talus slope/scree field was a beast.

 

 

 

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Hard to see, but the trail teetered on the edge of a 200’ cliff to the left here.

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Finally I reached the final high point of the Colorado Trail at about 12,300’. The line you see above was the trail cut into the hillside, descending down to Taylor Lake where I camped on my 3rd night.

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 I saw a few random people while out there. Above was a biker who was descending down the trail off of that ridge. Hard to tell, but the scale was so big, this little blue dot was almost imperceptible on the face of the hillside as shown in the photo above it.

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Just before reaching the end of the trail, I came across these two guys and their llamas. Yep. They are out hunting for elk and use llamas as pack animals to carry out the meat. Really nice guys from Mississippi, and the llamas were pretty friendly too!

A few miles and 6000’ of descending later, I arrived in Durango CO! The Colorado Trail was behind me. I rode into town and promptly found the largest burger and fries the town could provide. It’s a strange feeling now, having this portion of my journey already over. Since leaving Prudhoe Bay in Northern Alaska, I’ve been orienting toward riding the Colorado Trail in time before the season was too late. And now I’m here, and it’s done, at least what parts I chose to ride. From here I cut back North. The Colorado mountains are just to beautiful to leave just yet. I’m heading back up to Telluride, Ouray, Montrose and Grand Junction via various high passes and ATV roads. Then I’ll hop on the Kokopelli Trail to Moab… But that is another story…

3 Responses

  1. Louise Penberthy
    | Reply

    I’m delighted that you like a burger and fries after a hard day’s ride. After a hike, I like to have a burger and fries. They taste so GOOD.

    BTW, I’ve lately been hiking Rattlesnake Ridge; I’ve gotten up to 12 miles round trip! That’s amazing for me, considering my physical abilities a year and a half ago.

    • Scott Pauker
      | Reply

      Louise!

      I am so so happy to hear you are up to a 12 mile hike! That’s fantastic!

  2. Dana VanVoo
    | Reply

    Yep, I agree – the Colorado Trail looks worth doing! So glad you thought so! Your description, photos and video were amazingly beautiful. What an epic journey!

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