Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Loveland Pass, Colorado Classic, and Moving On


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Our neighbors rode their bikes up Loveland Pass Rd last week, not something we had any intention of doing, but it sounded like a nice scenic drive with a couple of hiking trails at the top. This is the road that hazmat vehicles have to take to avoid the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 but otherwise isn’t heavily traveled.

Another shot-up sign greeted us at the trailhead.

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Yes, it was almost noon when we made our way up the long and winding road up to the pass, but there were only a few dark clouds so we headed off on the West Ridge trail, which actually goes along the ridge of the Continental Divide.

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These photos don’t give any hint of how windy and cold it was up there. 55 degrees but with the wind chill it had to have been in the 40s based on our freezing hands and ears.

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Jim was ready to turn around but I wanted to keep going and he reluctantly did, too.

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Looking back towards the parking area you can see a trail on the east side of the road that goes to Mount Sniktau and Grizzly Peak, 3 miles to a 13er with 2,900’ of elevation gain, which is why we hiked on the “easy” side.

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I finally got a photo of a pika that was close enough for me to capture with my 10x zoom. They are very vocal little creatures, herbivores that only live in mountainous areas between 8-000-13,000’. Here is an interesting article about how pikas are being affected by global warming.

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Once we got up the very steep trail at the beginning, it continued along the ridge with more gentle ups and downs.

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Also views of the ski runs at Keystone.

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It was absolutely gorgeous up there but the wind was brutal, and after a mile the skies began darkening so we thought it best to turn back.

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This is not a place you would want to be caught out in a thunderstorm.

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On the way home I remembered reading about a lake near the pass, and when I spotted a forest service road and small parking lot I thought that might be it. We turned down it and sure enough there was not only one, but three small lakes.

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The other two lakes are only visible if you walk the trail past the first one.

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More idyllic Colorado scenery, and an easy hike of about a mile. There were a couple people fishing and that was it.

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On Friday we spent the day in Breckenridge to watch stage 2 of the Colorado Classic bike race. After dealing with traffic to get to a big parking lot near the gondola, there was a “full” sign. Since we had already pulled in we drove up to the gate and the man said there were spaces available so we paid our $10. Wonder how many cars turned around thinking there was no parking.

We walked along the Blue River to get to our lunch destination, where they were giving awards for the winners of the woman’s race that had just ended.

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We passed this cute bar/restaurant called The Dredge, billed as the world’s highest floating restaurant. It’s only open for dinner.

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The men’s race started at 2, so we had about an hour for lunch at Piante Pizzeria, serving all plant-based, wood-fired gourmet pizzas. They even put plants in the water.

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We got the Pesto, which is kale-walnut pesto topped with sundried tomatoes, red onions, artichoke hearts and cashew cheese, an excellent vegan pizza.

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We wanted to get up to Moonstone Hill to watch the cyclists on the climb, since that is where all the action was supposed to be. A volunteer gave us directions to a very steep hiking trail that was a shortcut to get up the hill. There’s a great view of the ski runs from the trail.

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By the time we made it up to Moonstone the riders had been by twice, since they were doing a 10k circuit 10 times around. There was loud music, people in costumes, and dancing.

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Bike races are high energy events, not just for the riders but also for the spectators. When the police and course marshal cars start coming by, the riders are soon to follow.

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Here they come.

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As the riders pass by, people ring cow bells, clap, and cheer them on. Cycling is really better watched on TV as you get to see all of the race rather than just a few seconds, which is why we wanted to be on the hill, since they aren’t riding as fast.

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The team support crews follow the riders.

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Some people run along with the riders as they go by, and they are usually in costume of some kind.

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Or not!

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We walked back down along the course road to get to see the riders at different points along the way.

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This is the finish line, but we left with two more laps to go since we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and it was starting to rain. It was a fun afternoon.

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We didn’t end up making it to the Leadville 100 mountain bike race on Saturday, but our friend Terry raced although he still wasn’t feeling great, and completed the 100 miles in 9 hours. That’s pretty impressive! The record is just over 6 hours and the cut-off time is 12 hours. I can’t believe anyone can ride a bike on trails for that many miles and that many hours at a time, but he’s already planning to do it again next year.

On Saturday the camera our friends sent arrived, and on Monday we packed up and moved south over 3 mountain passes and 100 miles to Woodland Park, CO. Today we pick up Jim’s new bike, but more about all of that next time.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Another Gulch and More


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Yes, we’re still at Dillon Reservoir. It’s not often that we get to live on waterfront property, and the camp host told us we could stay as long as we like if we willed him our Lazy Daze, so why not!

We’re enjoying our feathered friends here. This geese family likes hanging out behind our site, and we’ve watched the little one grow up over the past few weeks. The “baby” is the one closest to the water. Dad, on the left, is very protective.

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The hummingbird feeder is so busy I have to refill it daily.

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The one downside here is that day users think the campsite picnic tables are for anyone, and they walk between sites to get to them. I was out for a bike ride and Jim took this to show me. They are at our table but since we never use it anyway he didn’t say anything to them. He should have just come along with me on the ride.

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Jim has been busy shopping for a new bike. He finally made a deal on a used recumbent that should be arriving next week at our friends’ house in Littleton. After his crash in Moab last October he hasn’t been too keen on mountain biking and isn’t comfortable riding it on pavement, so we cleaned it up and listed it on Craigslist and Pinkbike. So far just two inquiries and no takers, but if we don’t sell it before we leave he’s going to try to fit one of the bikes in the back of the Subaru for now.

We actually were supposed to be in Carbondale for 10 days starting on the 7th, as we made reservations at the city park there months ago, along with friends Alex and Ellen. Unfortunately they are having issues with aging parents and were unable to leave California, so we decided to cancel also. Mainly because we found out the bridge at the Glenwood Springs I-70 exit is closing next week for reconstruction, and the detour will be a major traffic mess. Traffic was bad enough when we were there in June and it was still open, and that is the only way to get to Carbondale/Aspen in an RV short of taking Independence Pass, which we didn’t want to do.

We also found out that Stage 2 of the Colorado Classic bike race is taking place in Breckenridge tomorrow, which we want to go watch, and our friend Terry from Arkansas is racing in the nearby Leadville 100 on Saturday. He was diagnosed with pneumonia last week so may not be in the race but we hope to meet up since he will still be there whether he can ride or not.

Here are a few photos from our site. We’re still dodging daily monsoon thunderstorms, which makes for interesting skies.

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You can see the silhouette of our neighbor and his tripod, Dick Cunningham, a photographer who was here because he and his daughter, who lives in Breckenridge, are the organizers of the Main Street Art Festival that took place last weekend. If you like nature photography, check out his website here. 

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The local communities of Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne all have free concerts different nights of the week. We listened to jazz one evening in Frisco at the very nice park right on Main St. It’s a popular activity.

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I’ve been doing a lot of biking on the paved trails around the lake, while Jim likes hiking up on the ridge behind the campground. Photo from Jody’s loop.

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We managed to get in another higher elevation hike to Mayflower Gulch near the Copper Mountain ski area on the way to Leadville. It was a late start as usual but we evaded the thunderstorms and there were not many other people there.

The trail is actually the old road to the Boston Mining Company’s failed gold mining operations. Starting at 10,900’, the first mile and a half or so goes steadily uphill through the woods.

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Then opens up for some typical Colorado scenery, although it was a bit hazy. We’ve been fortunate not to have the smoke we’ve been hearing about in other parts of the west.

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The ragged crest of Fletcher Mountain, 13,951’.

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We continued past the buildings for another half mile and turned around here after 2.5 miles of uphill, gaining almost 1,000’, a pretty gradual climb for these parts.

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A day or so before this hike our Panasonic Lumix camera would not turn on again, and this time no amount of turning the mode dial or beating on it would make it work. Our sweet friends Robin and Lydia in Ridgecrest, CA are sending us a Canon SX40 that they don’t use, which should arrive in the next day or two, so we’ll test it out before the next post. For now my little Sony and Jim’s phone are doing an okay job.

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