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Mid-Winter Ride From Kenosha Pass to Hoosier Pass - Colorado


sfarson

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With all the delightful winter weather in the country, thought I'd sneak this recent wintertime ride up high. :D

 

One must be patient for the weather window to open wide enough during winter for a ride over nearby Kenosha Pass. Tried to see if it was wide enough last March in a report here here, but turned around when seeing conditions from the Pass down below.

 

The 10,000ft. high meadows of South Park (one of three major named Colorado "parks"), defended on three sides by snowcapped peaks, with Pikes Peak as a sentinal to south, are often seen from a saddle during more "accomodating" months. With fairly calm weather the past few days, and knowing the Hoosier Pass destination has a southern facing approach, cast fate to the wind and packed the cam gear... an opportunity to see The Park in January.

 

Some images, and a ride video from Alma to Hoosier Pass follow.

 

Here's the map of the ride...

gssoparkmap.jpg

 

While on the way, at the base of the northern approach to Kenosha Pass, I come across these bighorn sheep, finding the warmth near the road and ice abating chemicals on its surface irresistible...

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As the map above notes, we start with a pause at 10,001ft. Kenosha Pass. One hundred years ago the only motorized access to The Park was on two rails...

kenosha1885.jpg

 

Today, two wheels can take us to the same place. We're gazing at a spur of the Mosquito Range, and the meadows of South Park are below. Poet Walt Whitman wrote these words from this location in 1879...

 

I jot these lines literally at Kenosha summit, where we return, afternoon, and take a long rest, 10,000 feet above sea-level. At this immense height the South Park stretches fifty miles before me. Mountainous chains and peaks in every variety of perspective, every hue of vista, fringe the view...so the whole Western world is, in a sense, but an expansion of these mountains...

r1200gsadvkenosha800.jpg

 

We enjoy a two wheeled descent to The Park. Here was a typical descent 100 years ago...

kenosha1938.jpg

 

This was the first train stop in The Park. Read an account once of a train facing white out snow conditions, decided to shut down for the night and hope for better weather in the morning. Well, better visibility on the morning revealed the train had left the tracks a long ways back and had been churning across the frozen meadows!

jefferson1937.jpg

 

Today, the wind is brisk, the temps are more brisk, but conditions are dry and a quick pic is taken...

r1200gsadvjeffersondepot800.jpg

 

This small town of Jefferson (est. pop. 50) has a market ranchers and cabin dwellers will stop by to pick up their mail, talk politics, talk the weather, etc. Heard the other day of a mountain lion taking horses at a nearby ranch. BTW, if passing through Jefferson some day, pick up some of their famous fudge...

r1200gsadvjeffersonmarket800.jpg

 

We wander down the Michigan Creek Road for a couple of Continental Divide pics. Mt. Guyot at 13,370ft. was named after Henri Guyot, a famous Swiss geologist. One typically climbs it via the ridgeline at the right...

r1200gsadvguyot800.jpg

 

Bald Mtn. at 13,684ft. has a long ridgeline with many false summits as one heads back and towards the right. Guess it was named after the many with thinning hair? Eh? :) BTW, with brisk winds, and temps in the mid-30's, just hopping off the bike for a quick pic, the bike is kept idling, keeping those heated grips heated!

r1200gsadvbald800.jpg

 

One more Divide pic. While the backside of the GS is shown 13,829ft. Mt. Silverheels, the bike should be turned around in tribute. The peak was named after a dance hall lady who cared for the miners in nearby Fairplay when a smallpox epidemic swept through the town and nearby mining camps, and she wore silver heels.

 

See that faint road line through the wintry cluster of Aspen trees? That's the Boreas Pass road built on top of an old rail bed. It leads from Como to Breckenridge. Here's a vid ride over it.

r1200gsadvsilverheels800.jpg

 

On the way to Fairplay there is the modest Red Hill Pass, named after the red rocks at its summit. You can see the grade ascending it. Behind it are the monstrous peaks (from left to right) of Horseshoe (apt), and the 14,000ft. + granite ramparts of Mt. Bross and Mt. Lincoln. This can be a wide open and lonely place, and even more so when winter is on the stage. One can see ribbons of tarmac straighten themselves out, and one can can be tempted to twist the throttle grip a little more...

r1200gsadvredhilltowards800.jpg

 

Just below the Red Hill summit we look back at where we have come from...

r1200gsadvredhillfrom800.jpg

 

Well, the lunch destination of Fairplay, the county seat, is reached. Back when miners found graft, corruption, and greed the rule versus exception, city founders declared the community would be one where we "play fair". This is a high altitude town, but not as high as Alma, where we go next. The main steet, highway heading north to Alma, Hoosier Pass, and Breckenridge...

r1200gsadvfairplay800.jpg

 

A little further, to the right, the historic Park County Courthouse can be seen. Today it is a place of quiet study and reading. Years ago it was a boisterous place of court activity and judgment. Executions by hanging were facilitated by the trees in the yard, but I'm not so sure it was these trees...

r1200gsadvparkcourthouse800.jpg

 

Hey, time to warm up. Lunch at the Brown Burro...

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We're on the outskirts of Alma. Can see it barely to the left. This is currently the second highest incorporated town in the U.S. at 10,361ft. Actually, this is a moving number, and I mention "currently". A few years ago city leaders thought it would be good for business to have Alma be the highest town in the U.S., taking the crown from nearby Leadville. So they annexed a few homes on a hillside. Leadville responded by annexing a nearby mine on a slope. Alma said, "Oh yeah?", and annexed a cemetery on a higher hill. Leadville responded with their own cemetery acquisition. I think this is where it is at, and believe Alma has raised the white flag of surrender.

 

This is where I paused to connect the helmet cam gear. Mt. Bross at 14,172ft. looms to the NW. Can see a faint zig zag of an old mine road ascending the slopes. It actually leads all the way to the top, making this one of the highest navigable roads in NA....

r1200gsadvalma800.jpg

 

From here looking to the west one sees the approaches to Mosquito Pass...

r1200gsadvmosquitogulch800.jpg

 

And to the NNW, the Buckskin Creek drainage and the valley to Kite Lake. There are some serious old mines up this valley...

r1200gsadvkitelake800.jpg

 

OK, the cams are connected. Record is pressed. From here we ride the southern approach to Hoosier Pass at 11,539ft. Peter Kater on the piano and R. Carlos Nakai - Native American flute accompany... "All Souls Waltz"...

 

From Alma to Hoosier Pass - Streaming Video

 

Arrival at the Pass summit! At the top we see the 14,286ft. nipple summit of Mt. Lincoln, another 3,100ft higher than where we are. An old mining road also skirts its SE slopes...

r1200gsadvlincoln800.jpg

 

To the north is the Blue Creek drainage and the highest points of the Continental Divide in NA. The Breckenridge ski area isn't far...

r1200gsadvhoosierpassno800.jpg

 

Temps are 31f, but I think I'm warmed by this weather window gift. You all can relate eh? Good riding for us all in '09!

r1200gsadvhoosierpasssign800.jpg

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Great pics. Not often one gets to make that ride on a moto in January. I've driven it hundreds of times and it can be terrible in the winter if there is wind. Glad you got the opportunity.

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WOW,

 

That was a wonderful ride tale, and the Boreas video was a sweet reminder of the other posted ride.

 

Thanks for taking us along.

:thumbsup:

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Steve, excellent ride tale especially with the history intertwined, and a fortunate window of opportunity. Love the photo of Mt. Silverheels and the GS, it brings back memories of trying to ride a Yamaha 360 (adv. bike of the day) up the side of Mt. Sopris in the seventies (with little success).

 

A beautiful area, one I hope to visit when the weather's more accommodating, thanks for the ride.

 

 

 

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Steve, excellent ride tale especially with the history intertwined, and a fortunate window of opportunity. Love the photo of Mt. Silverheels and the GS, it brings back memories of trying to ride a Yamaha 360 (adv. bike of the day) up the side of Mt. Sopris in the seventies (with little success).

 

A beautiful area, one I hope to visit when the weather's more accommodating, thanks for the ride.

 

 

 

Thanks all... a good ride, especially for Jan! roadscholar... You know, there are appearance parallels between Silverheels and Sopris. My neighbor once took a Bultaco up Elbert in the 60's. The tracks are probably still there. Good for you trying to ascend Sopris -- now that's a memory!

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WOW,

 

That was a wonderful ride tale, and the Boreas video was a sweet reminder of the other posted ride.

 

Thanks for taking us along.

:thumbsup:

 

Paul... Good memory -- that Boreas ride was years ago!

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Enjoyed the tale, pic, and videos. Will be on that road in June and have put the Brown Burro on the lunch list.

Bill

 

Bill... Have a great ride. If you're coming up from the south on Hwy 9 from the Canon City area, pull off at Guffey and enjoy that eclectic town. And if it is lunchtime, instead of waiting until the Brown Burro in Fairplay, stop by Rita's Place in Guffey. She'll take care of you. Check out some of the "things" in Guffey...

 

A little hide still left on dem bones...

guffeyskeleton.jpg

 

guffeycar2.jpg

 

guffeystructure2.jpg

 

guffeyritas.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Now that was sweet!

 

I'm amazed at what I assume must be pretty extreme drought conditions, e.g. minimal snowpack at 11,500'. Hope you guys don't run dry next summer.

 

Jan

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Would you mind to tell us about your video camera, what software you used to process the video, and how you are serving it. That was some of the best quality video I've seen, and no fuss to view.

 

Thanks,

 

Jan

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Would you mind to tell us about your video camera, what software you used to process the video, and how you are serving it. That was some of the best quality video I've seen, and no fuss to view.

 

Thanks,

 

Jan

 

I was going to ask the same. Another curious member wants to know.

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A big :thumbsup:, as usual. Thanks for sharing, Steve.

 

We should get your GSA and cameras up in this direction. Not as many 14ers, but still lots to ride and see.

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Now that was sweet!

 

I'm amazed at what I assume must be pretty extreme drought conditions, e.g. minimal snowpack at 11,500'. Hope you guys don't run dry next summer.

 

Jan

 

Jan... The wind typically scours these peaks, and others during the mid-winter months, then along comes the wet heavy snows of spring and these mountains are then blanketed in solid white. Last snow level report I saw (through December) had seven of the eight major drainages in the state with snow levels above the LTA (Long Term Average). That said, January is one of the driest months of the year, each year, and it was no different this year. We'll see how it looks soon when the Jan numbers come in from the recording stations.

 

As for the cam gear, it was a bulletcam from helmetcamera.com feeding a MiniDV camcorder in a fanny pack. The downsides are a nasty network of cables, and much to adjust... up / down / rotation / mic, etc. Upsides are a decent recording, with a p-o-v similar to that of a rider looking around, with a mic in a fanny pack so some bike exhaust note can be captured without wind roar.

 

Can see in this St. Vrain canyon vid the helmet in the upper right of the screen, with some exhaust note captured and placed in the movie...

The St. Vrain Canyon - Ride Vid

 

(Joel, here's a vid closer to your neighborhood!)

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Wow, thanks for the pics and vid. I've been through South Park basin many times now. Been on the road to Guanella Pass twice; first in May '03, when I got the RT stuck in the snow briefly before turning back to US285, and again in May '04 when I was able to make it across to Georgetown.

 

The video and music gave me a serious case of...something. "Wanderlust" is perhaps an overused word that doesn't quite communicate the feeling; "sehnsucht" sums it up better than anything else I can think of.

 

Thanks...

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Wow, thanks for the pics and vid. I've been through South Park basin many times now. Been on the road to Guanella Pass twice; first in May '03, when I got the RT stuck in the snow briefly before turning back to US285, and again in May '04 when I was able to make it across to Georgetown.

 

The video and music gave me a serious case of...something. "Wanderlust" is perhaps an overused word that doesn't quite communicate the feeling; "sehnsucht" sums it up better than anything else I can think of.

 

Thanks...

 

 

Nice memories and thoughts Mitch. And excellent attempts / success with Guanella on the RT! May is an uncertain month to attempt Guanella, expecially on the north side. :D

 

In case mild interest, recorded a ride over Guanella... From Grant to Georgetown - Guanella Pass. Perhaps it will rekindle a memory or two.

 

Steve

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Now that was sweet!

 

I'm amazed at what I assume must be pretty extreme drought conditions, e.g. minimal snowpack at 11,500'. Hope you guys don't run dry next summer.

 

Jan

 

Jan... The wind typically scours these peaks, and others during the mid-winter months, then along comes the wet heavy snows of spring and these mountains are then blanketed in solid white. Last snow level report I saw (through December) had seven of the eight major drainages in the state with snow levels above the LTA (Long Term Average). That said, January is one of the driest months of the year, each year, and it was no different this year. We'll see how it looks soon when the Jan numbers come in from the recording stations.

 

As for the cam gear, it was a bulletcam from helmetcamera.com feeding a MiniDV camcorder in a fanny pack. The downsides are a nasty network of cables, and much to adjust... up / down / rotation / mic, etc. Upsides are a decent recording, with a p-o-v similar to that of a rider looking around, with a mic in a fanny pack so some bike exhaust note can be captured without wind roar.

 

Can see in this St. Vrain canyon vid the helmet in the upper right of the screen, with some exhaust note captured and placed in the movie...

The St. Vrain Canyon - Ride Vid

 

(Joel, here's a vid closer to your neighborhood!)

 

You can check current snow and pull up graphs to compare it to long-term averages and to previous (recent) years at this site:

 

http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/snow/watershed/current/daily/maps_graphs/swe_time.html

 

It pulls the reports by basin.

 

 

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