June 26, 2021

CO: Durango - Fort Lewis Loop

 I made my way down to Durango and grabbed some lunch at Zia Taqueria, hard to not stop there!! This would be the last night of the roadtrip and I was staying with some friends, Audrey & Jack, who have graciously hosted me on a few other bike trips.

Welcoming crew at the house.

I settled in while they went up to the Purgatory bike park for the afternoon. I reached out to another friend, Liz, who was getting ready for her Colorado Trail Race in a couple of weeks. She was free to meet up for a beer in a couple hours, so I looked at Trailforks for a nearby ride to fill the time.

There were a mix of trails right in town, looping up and around Fort Lewis College. That'll work.

The River trail was a bit thick, my squealing brakes kept me safe around the blind curves!! Ha! The Animas River can barely be seen on the right.

I located the beginning of Lions Den trail and began climbing.

It was a nice grade, the distant San Juan Mtns. and brewing storms all around.

Looking mighty dark back towards Silverton.

Fun trail gaining the rim.
I was a bit ambitious and missed a couple of turns up on the rim: bonus miles!! That's what happens when I don't follow a track, but it's all good and didn't take but a minute to figure it out.

Up near the college the singletrack continued in a more urban setting.

Tucked between roads and campus, it weaved in & out of the trees. There were a few play areas with jumps, etc. as well.

Fort Lewis College has a solid cycling team too.

Checking the time, I circled around the rim ready to descend back to town.

Ruh-roh! Re-calculating.... I had planned to take a much shorter path down, but had to divert back to Lions Den.
I had to get my phone out a few times to find the quickest way back to the house. Sorry, Liz, didn't mean to keep you waiting!! Eventually I found my way back to the neighborhood streets and quickly drove over to Animas Brewing Co. to meet Liz for some suds & CTR beta swapping. Had I been smart, I would've simply rode to the brewery as it was practically on my route. :headslap:

Post-ride greeting too!
This was a fun route right in town if you have an hour or so to kill. Maybe at the end of a day and you could always finish right in downtown too.

CO: Silverton - Brooklyn Gulch

 We were sitting around camp on Friday evening tossing around ride ideas for the following morning. The forecast wasn't looking too bad, so we had hope of making it high into the alpine. Hmmm, why not try a re-do of our Brooklyn Gulch ride? Sure. It didn't take long to all agree and it was set. We'd rise again at 6a and hope to beat the now daily storms.

This was also the day I'd be heading south to Durango after the ride, so I packed up camp early. 

Thick trees, flat ground and 9800'.

Blue sky!! And fog in the valley.

We made another stop for coffee in town before making our way up to our roadside pullout. This time we opted to at least ride around the parking area before pointing our bikes skyward. A two minute warm-up is better than no warm-up, right? Right.

Eszster leads the charge.

To the sky we go.
The San Juan Mtns. have a way of making you look and feel tiny. Photo by Eszter

The skies were holding as the peaks tickled the clouds. Photo by Eszter.

Eszter's photo perch below Brooklyn Mine.

Colorful peaks of the San Juans. Anvil Mtn. on the right.

Scott slows it down for a look around.
It was somewhere around here where I too had to give the legs a break and walk for a couple of minutes. It had been a fairly unforgiving grade from the get-go and I was thrilled to make it this far without stopping.

Some of the named peaks as we creep towards 12,000'. PeakFinder app.

The Colorado Trail hugs the left side of Rolling Mtn.

A little relenting on the climb with some rollers.

Any time I ride with these two, it's going to be memorable. Today was no exception.

Oof. I couldn't muster the power to conquer this pitch. Note: Eszter is strong!!

Where are those partly sunny skies we were seeing in the forecast??

Looks like packing our rain gear anyway was a wise choice.

Snowbank at 12,000'. I hoped my front brakes would get me safely off the mountain.

A bit more climbing to do first.

The Million Dollar Hwy, US550, far below.

Scott and I framed by Anvil Mountain & Eszter's keen eye.

There were hints of blue sky, but it never really materialized. Photo by Eszter.

The climb eventually tops out around 12,200'.

Time for the downhill!! And the puffy jacket, you guys brought yours, right? No?!? :)

Yeehaw!!

My marginal brakes were liking the occasional ease in the grade.

First sign of civilization on the way down.

St. Paul Lodge & Hut is available as an Air BnB.

Scott was waiting here as I came screaming around the corner...

Runaway bike ramp?? Coming in hot!! Yeah, I used it & cooled off my rotors.

I think I'd pass on filtering the two-toned pond below the mine. Just sayin'.

The fine print: 'Hikers, skiers & bicyclists are welcome in all areas except near structures' Sounds good to me.

We popped out on US550 a bit below Red Mountain Pass, nothing but downhill cruising back to the car.
Scott & Eszter may have been a little chilly on the descent, but at least it didn't rain. The sun may have stayed hidden all morning, but it really didn't matter as we could see plenty of distant peaks. Thanks for the fun route. I wonder where our paths will cross next?
Iron puddle reflections.

One final shot of colorful downtown Silverton.


Route:

June 25, 2021

CO: Silverton - Beaver Ponds

 We made our way back up to camp after lunch and wouldn't you know, the skies were clearing and we began tossing around another ride option for the afternoon. Scott mentioned a seldom used trail near camp leading back to town, then we could check out one of the new additions to the Colorado Trail Race on our way back. Sounded good to me.

We took off on a long steep downhill knowing full well our ride would end climbing back to camp. I guess that's the price of admission around here.

Part of the abandoned aerial tramway of the Mayflower Mine.

Singletrack leading to now dry beaver ponds.

Beaver dam turned berm.

And just like that, the weather turns again. Photo by Scott.

Into a thick aspen grove.

Lackawanna Mill overlooking Silverton.

Scott giving the stamp of approval.

Crossing Swansea Gulch.

Zoom!! Photo by Scott.

Dropping down to Kendall Mtn. Ski resort as the rain begins to fall.

Hardrock 100 Endurace Run, this must be an old finishing monument as there's a nicer one in town.

Looks like this nutty one is no longer: Silverton 1000.

Kendall Mtn. Ski resort is a tiny hill considering it's surrounded by massive peaks.
We took cover on the porch of the lodge as the rain picked up. We could tell it was going to be short lived. Next up was to ride through town and link up with the newly modified CTR route heading towards Stony Pass.

Silverton dried out quickly.

Silverton Town Hall, constructed in 1908.

San Juan County Courthouse.

Crossing over Cement Creek as we head out of town going north.

Continuing on CR2.

Now on the other side of Lackawanna Mill.

Very marshy in this part of the valley.

CR2 gives way to dirt.

Overlooking the Animas River, which we will be following shortly.

Now on the CTR re-route. This cabin found a perfect location.

This option was much more pleasant, great scenery and only one or two vehicles.

Plus, this route cuts out a short hill by the Mayflower Mill.

Looking back towards the cabin we passed.

Since this road is slightly below grade of CR2, you couldn't hear it at all.

Not sure what this is for below the Mayflower Mill.

A few of the buckets remain on the tramway.

This is why we didn't see much traffic, not a through road for vehicles!!

Great riverside camp site nearby.

Continuing north towards Howardsville.

This is where the re-route ends and rejoins CR2 before crossing the Animas River and then begins to ascend to Stony Pass. View is looking back south towards Silverton.

View to the north at our turnaround spot.

Heading back, slightly downhill, the sun came out.

Simply stunning views along the Animas River.

This grotto made for a perfect photo op.

I somehow managed to not fall on the slippery rocks and Scott was shocked the bike didn't topple over!! 

Crossing over the Animas and making our way back to camp.

Starting up the aptly named 'Climb of Doom'.

It was steep, but I kept turning the cranks over.
As I neared camp I noticed I was almost at 10 miles for the ride, might as well log at least 10, so I kept going. Then I saw I was nearing the 10,000' barrier, might as well notch that too.

Found this great vista a bit above our camp turnoff.

The San Juan mountains are spectacular, every way you look.

Only half a mile until the end? Might as well check that out while I'm at it.

Good choice. End of the line and over 10,000' too.

Arrastra Basin.

Chowing down at Thee Pitts Again BBQ.
I'm not sure what's harder to believe, the fact that we did two back-to-back rides today that were relatively easy or the fact that we did two rides with virtually no hike-a-bike?? Usually when Scott and I team up for a ride there's some level of insanity involved. I have to admit, it was kinda nice!! I'm sure we'll make up for it tomorrow...


Route: