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Thread: Mid-Winter Tour of Colorado Park County (Kenosha Pass to Hoosier Pass)

  1. #1
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    Mid-Winter Tour of Colorado Park County (Kenosha Pass to Hoosier Pass)

    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, 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 mid-January.

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

    Here's the map of the ride...


    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...




    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...


    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...


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


    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!


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


    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...


    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...


    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!


    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.



    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...


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


    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...


    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...


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


    Last edited by sfarson; 01-19-2009 at 04:14 PM.

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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....


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


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


    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"...

    January Ascent of 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...


    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...


    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!
    Last edited by sfarson; 01-19-2009 at 04:15 PM.

  3. #3
    blah blah blah squiffynimrod's Avatar
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    Nice. I am soooo jealous. I've got about 6" of ice on the road in front of the house. Especially liked the "before" and "after" shot of the train station.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Steve
    1985 R80RT/ 2002 R1150GSA
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  4. #4
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    mid winter tour

    Wonderful, Steve. You've climbed a number of those peaks, haven't you?

    How was your driveway going out and coming back?
    Last edited by rinty; 01-18-2009 at 06:09 AM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  5. #5
    OUTBACKUFO
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    my drive way finally melted out... did not have the $$$ for the low profile studs for the cycle this year... even at the new house at only 6000ft we have had the neighboorhood snow packed since first week in Dec... will be good to get out on the GS over the next couple days....


    my hard dive crashed and might have lost everthng on it
    so will have to start over with a lot of the photos of motorcycling..



    s to te picts...


    Now i know Alma is high up there... but unless one is born at home in Alma there is no hospital that i know of up there to be offically born at... granted the Leadville hospital where i started life at is not much to talk about....... mostly a paste ya back together miners hospital for the old Climax mine...

    great Video... just up loaded... what head cam do you have...????

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    Great photos..... I'm envious of all that blue sky......
    Steve Clark
    94 K75s

  7. #7
    Chromehead bobs98's Avatar
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    Very nice. Steve! Cool pics. Thanks for sharing.
    Bob Smith
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    great presentation, Steve (as always). that's as close to riding as i'm going to be for another 2 months or so (i'm hoping just 8 more weeks.)
    how many of those mining trails are open and navigable on a GS? say, mid-July or so?
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

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    Quote Originally Posted by rinty View Post
    Wonderful, Steve. You've climbed a number of those peaks, haven't you?

    How was your driveway going out and coming back?
    Yes... Good guess. Have summited most of the peaks in this report. You climb some? How are your winter sports going?

    John Deere helps with the driveway , (Good memory) and the last snow was 4" six days ago, so it was in fine shape for Friday's departure.
    Last edited by sfarson; 01-19-2009 at 04:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfish1100 View Post
    great presentation, Steve (as always). that's as close to riding as i'm going to be for another 2 months or so (i'm hoping just 8 more weeks.)
    how many of those mining trails are open and navigable on a GS? say, mid-July or so?
    Joe... Many are GS navigable and let's definitely explore them this upcoming season. No problem mid-July. Developing a list of ghost and semi-ghost towns to check out, in off road locations. Also, lonely and quiet passes... Stillwater, Los Pinos, etc. Also Indian battlefield sites. Recall Rick from out Miller WSBK trip... he's anxious for these rides, as is Terry. Some will require an overnight camp. Anxious to see your GS ride.

  11. #11
    Registered User redclfco's Avatar
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    Steve,

    Great pictures! BIG Pictures!

    Looks like a fantastic ride!

    Thanks For Sharing

  12. #12
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Mid-Winter Tour

    You climb some? Sfarson
    No, just the odd scramble, when I have to, while hiking. I did get to the top of one of your 14'ers, Quandary Mountain, some years ago. I seem to recall that you have done all of them?

    How are your winter sports going?
    This was taken on a mid week sneak, last Thursday, at Lake Louise:



    This is the Whitehorn side, Bow Valley and Mt. Fairview in background.



    And the Paradise side, looking up into Boomerang Bowl. This is where the good stuff is.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

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    Sweet pics Rinty. Hope to see the Banff area, the Icefields Parkway, etc. someday, and someday soon!

    If you climbed Quandary, then you were right next to Hoosier Pass where this ride concluded. Did climb all the fourteeners. Many memories from doing so.

  14. #14
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Winter tour

    Hope to see..
    You'll really like it; let me know before you come up.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  15. #15
    Grow'd up Mini Trail munchy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfarson View Post
    Joe... Many are GS navigable and let's definitely explore them this upcoming season. No problem mid-July. Developing a list of ghost and semi-ghost towns to check out, in off road locations. Also, lonely and quiet passes... Stillwater, Los Pinos, etc. Also Indian battlefield sites. Recall Rick from out Miller WSBK trip... he's anxious for these rides, as is Terry. Some will require an overnight camp. Anxious to see your GS ride.
    Gotta mark this one. Nice photos, Steve. I'll get Joe to bring me along on that GS tour

    2002 R1150GS
    MOA #104910, Twisted Shaft Motorcycle Club #241

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