Tuesday, 13 August 2013

211 Crested Butte & Engineer Pass

Saturday 10th August
Miles Today 188  Total 16,808

We packed up and set off for the post office to send some more stuff back to the UK. At 12 noon we got away and drove NW towards Carbondale. After 30 miles we reached it just as a thunderstorm started so we hid in a diner and had lunch. 

The rocks all turned red

...and so did the Diner

When the storm passed,  we set off again for Crested Butte. The first 40 miles was normal road and the last 30 was graded dirt. Oh yes....  I love the dirt.

The dirt road was longer that I expected and it was a very twisty road so at the end of it we were both glad to be back on tarmac as we entered Crested Butte. We stopped in a place for a cup of tea and while we were there someone from my biker blog spotted Wallace and took a photo. We later found the photo posted on the forum. Wallace in Crested Butte

Picture stolen from site. Thanks Kosmic.

We then set off for Lake City, a small town at nearly 9000 feet where we found a delightful little motel run by a completely mad and equally delightful couple. Unfortunately the journey to it was mostly rain so no pictures were taken.

We found a zany motel with reasonable rates and after changing out of our bike gear went to get some grub. After filling our faces we went into the bar attached to the motel. It was a raw western basic place with a bar made of corrugated iron sheets. Just how we like it.
We got chatting to a farming couple from Kansas and had a fantastic evening putting the word to rights with Jud and Patty. It seems the problems of US farmers are similar to those in the UK except that they are due to run out of water soon. Jud pumps water to his fields from a well at a depth of 190 feet. The pumping started at 100 feet some years ago and the water table has been lowering since. Nice people with balanced views on the state of the world. 

Sunday 11th August
Miles Today 43  Total 16,851

The office/shop for the motel. It was mad as frogs but fascinating.

We packed up from the mad hotel and set off for Engineer Pass at 11am. It is a 12,800 foot high dirt road track over a mountain range. Just my cup of tea. It all started out very well with the road fairly well maintained in most places and Wallace coped very well with e difficult bits. We past a few signs saying 4 wheel drive vehicles only and as Wallace had 2 spare tyres strapped on the sides that was 4 in total so we thought that would be OK. We were wrong, actually, 'I' was wrong as Karen later reminded me.

The start of the Engineer Pass trail

One of the many abandoned gold mines.

Taking a break about 1/2 way up

The views were breathtaking

Last nights rain fell as snow up here

Safely at the top. If only we knew what was to come !!!

The route down the other side started well until we followed the advice of a passing 4x4 driver who gave me directions. We arrived at a junction with a sign that said Ouray and glibly took it. It turned out to be a technical road that only 4 wheel drives and small dirt bikes should/could take. It was a nightmare with the bottom of the bike bouncing off rocks and boulders. Karen got off for the worst bits but we still managed to fall over 3 times. The only problem was that the bike was so heavily loaded that it was a pig to stand up but we managed it. When we finally got to the tarmac road we were both completely shattered and sweating profusely. Another problem was the lack of air. The difficult bits were all over 10,00 feet and the air was only about 70% making every task that much harder.

After the pass we went even higher to get over the pass. 12,966 feet.

Marmots were everywhere

The views on the West side were rugged and spectacular.

After a break at the bottom of the trail we drove the last 4 miles into Ouray. About half way there we saw a blue 4x4 waiting to cross our path and I tooted to announce our presence and Karen waved as we went by. The 4x4 pulled out behind us and followed us into Ouray. We pulled up outside as pub and the 4x4 did too. What we did not know was that in the 4x4 was a woman named Amy who comes from Kings Langley, 20 miles from our house. Apparently once they had seen Wallaces number plate she saw the GB sticker and started screaming "Those are my people" (the other 3 in the 4x4 were American.) We slowly crawled off the bike and the occupants of the 4x4 came over and started chatting. Once we went into the pub they invited us to join them and we had a great couple of hours chatting and having lunch. They were Dave, a dentist, his wife Pat, their long term friend, the lunatic, Amy and her American boyfriend, Adam. Dave then invited us to his house for the night and we accepted. We drove to his house in Ridgeway and instead of steaming into the beer (OK as well as) we set about straightening Wallace's bash plate. We spent a couple of hours unscrewing, bashing and re-screwing the mangled bash plate only to find a broken weld on one of the fixings. 
We then tucked into Pizza when some more of Dave & Pats relatives arrived and spent the evening locked in entertaining conversation whist watching the meteor storm overhead in the clear sky.

Tarmac at last

At last a watering hole where we met......
This bunch. Adam, Pat, Ray, Karen, Dave and Amy.

Ouray was another wild west style town.

Ray & Dave straightening the bash plate out.

As has come to be the norm for our American hosts, we were treated like Royalty and had a thoroughly fun and entertaining evening followed by a good sleep.

Monday 12th August
Miles Today 128  Total 16,979

This is the morning view from Dave & Pats house.

We awoke early today as Dave had to go in to work. I did a bit more work on Wallace and stripped out the part that needed welding. We said our goodbyes to Pat, Amy, Adam and the others and set off for Durango. The road was spectacular and we drove over a pass called Red Mountain. It was well named. We stopped in a small town called Silverton, a town we should have driven to yesterday, the road being more sane. We pulled in for fuel just as the heavens opened up and stayed the storm out over coffee. Whilst Karen was supping I went into the town, found a welder who fixed the bash plate support in about 1 minute. Whilst waiting I was approached by a group of English bikers who had also bought their bikes over to the US. They were all pure dirt bikes and they were doing the trails that we should not have done on Wallace ! One was a cop who was due to retire from Birmingham police force.

No comment necessary.

We then moved on to Cortez and found a nice motel and chilled out.

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