Sunday, August 17, 2008

(Day 15) Rocky Mountain High...

Friday, July 18, 2008
Day 15
N38 20.108 W106 46.334 to Monticello, UT

There’s a fine line between too much and too little air in my mattress and last night I apparently had too much. The persistent sound of water rushing by must have knocked me out before I got comfortable in my sack, so I’d start this morning off with a sore lower back.

I also would face 35 degree temperatures. This was by far the coldest part of the trip and the coldest I’ve ever been in mid-July. With hands numb and back sore, I manage to fix oatmeal, get everything packed up and be sitting on the bike ready to go at 6:18am. At 6:21am, I’m finally rolling (I learned that the clutch on my Orangutan likes to warm up a bit before operating properly).

All of my “cold weather” gear was barely enough as I faced the 50mph wind chill head on. Being in a valley and at “only” 8000 feet in elevation, warm sunrays were hard to come by:

But, just as what has happened everyday for the last 10 bazillion years, the sun rises in the east and points my silhouette westward, reaffirming that my path was in line with my goal:

I should have just stopped to get this picture, but running alongside a canyon river with a low sun is just cool:

I will never get tired of seeing lakes in the mountains:

Or, brooks along the mountainside (I’m pointing the camera almost vertical here):

I think I’m getting ahead of myself here though. I roll into Lake City at 8:08am. I get a little upset with myself for not trying to make it here yesterday since the ride was easy and there were campsites every 10-20 miles along the road. I was feeling pretty good, so now the plan was to make it to Monticello, UT to keep up with my schedule.

But, first I’d do the gas station routine and also grab some breakfast. Lake City is a caricature town. I wasn’t impressed. Besides being overly expensive, I also felt like I was in a cartoon. The contrast between my type of vacation and the type of vacation that everyone else in town was enjoying was just simply black and white. Almost to the point to where I was getting the cold shoulder from the clean and rich. But, breakfast was good and I’m back on the trail towards Cinnamon Pass at 8:29am:

I must have passed about 10-20 Jeeps, FJs, Land Cruisers and Land Rovers on the way up Cinnamon. I guess that you can soak in a lot of scenery and get a lot of pictures at the pace they were traveling, but the Orangutan was built for speed, so I let her have her way and enjoyed every minute of it:

Yes, the snow was ice cold:

Cinnamon pass was nice. I was the only one up there when I arrived, so I put my camera on the ground to get a self portrait. I managed to get this, but not before I had to stop a Jeep, coming the other way, from running over my camera. It took quite a bit of body language to inform him of my situation, but luckily he stopped a few yards from disaster and I was able to strike a pose again before the shot was taken:

Again, I could have taken a picture every 100 yards, but you just have to pick and choose for yourself:

On the way to California Pass:

California Pass:

As far as vistas are concerned, California Pass was my favorite. It was here that I would take a picture and laugh at it in the viewfinder because the image is simply an injustice to what it is really like:

Find the Land Rovers:

I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures after this. I figured that just stopping every once in awhile and let the scenery burn into my mind would be better than looking at the pictures later on. Like I said, pictures are simply an injustice.

Anyway, I make my way down in elevation and run some very fun paved roads before hitting the longest and deepest river crossing of the trip. It was shallow for the first 80% of it, so I picked up some speed and hit the deeper part, which got me wet from visor to toe…and it was COLD:

I made a wrong turn along one mountainside where the trail just disappeared. I looked to my left, downhill and spot two guys with some serious tools. We both looked at each other as if to say, “What the **** are you doing here?” Find the geologists:

Shortly thereafter, Ophir pass. This pass was different in that it was manly just one big rock quarry. Nothing too technical, there were just a lot of rocks. Find the ram:

Here’s a little help:

Some time after this, I reach the Willow Divide OHV trail system. There were a ton of puddles and I was starting to get into a rhythm of letting the suspension soak them up, standing up on the pegs and just letting the bike teeter-totter from front the back while I kept some good speed up:

What I forgot was that I had 50 pounds of luggage on the rear. At these speeds, something had to give. The weak point ended up being the plastic clip on my Wolfman rear bag. This was an easy fix as they had provided spare clips in the bag. I was very pleased with all of the Wolfman products that I had purchased.

After conquering Willow Divide, the next dirt trail would be Cottonwood Rd. I might be wrong on the name because I ended up not taking it. I could see on my radar that this road would lead me to rain. So, I ended up making a southernly bypass to avoid the mud:

Here is the view north after taking the shot of the GPS picture above:

There was definitely rain up there and I’m glad I avoided getting wet, but still disappointed about missing some of the trail.

As I make my detour, I start to realize that I was finished with the Rockies, this was also kind of depressing:

But, Utah was a big unknown for me, so the prospects of discovering something new kept my spirits high. Here is how Utah welcomes me:

Looking south down the CO/UT border:

Bye, bye, Colorado:

Simply following my route, I eventually reach Monticello, UT and find a room at the Monticello Inn. Day 15 is complete:

Day 16’s plan is to make Green River, UT and to get my Garmin software that should already be there.

Total mileage: 3106
Daily mileage: 246
Wildlife observed: Mule deer, ram, groundhogs, chipmunks
Favorite Sight: California Gulch Pass
Favorite Scent: I smelled Evergreens somewhere, it was great
Favorite Sound: That KTM still thumping along
Favorite Taste: Pancakes
Favorite Feel: A bed
Ailments: Lower back… may also have something to do with how I packed everything in my rear bag… the contours change everyday.

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