Monday, September 3, 2018

Riding through the Rockies

We're back on the BMW after spending two days in Boulder, Colorado with our son. Hiking, going to the movies (Operation Finale and Black Kkklansman), and enjoying busy Pearl Street was a lot of fun and a good break from the trip.

We've ridden the BMW in Colorado many times over the past 5 years and have learned to be prepared for abrupt weather changes as the elevation climbs to over 10,000' in the Rockies. The beginning of the trip we headed along the edge of the Front Range, passing by the area where we hiked the day before.

We weren't very far into the day when we reached 8000 miles for our trip. We left home 37 days ago anticipating that we would cover approximately 9000 miles on our cross-country adventure, and we should be close to that by the time we get home to Arizona. Mike says the BMW is made for this type of long-distance riding, hovering up the miles on a comfortable ride.

Boulder sits at 5200' elevation, and after leaving the Front Range we started to climb into the heart of the Rockies over the Kenosha Pass at 10,000'. I always hope to see mountain goats or bighorn sheep, but the only animal we saw today was an antelope.

Even with the heavy Labor Day traffic, we made great time through the mountains. Dropping down from the Kenosha Pass we entered South Park, a vast, high, flat mountain valley at about 9000'.

We could see 14,000' mountain peaks all around us until the clouds descended and it started to rain lightly. Time to put on the rain gear!

As we crossed Poncha Pass with high sheer cliffs that bordered both sides of the 2-lane highway into the San Luis Valley the rain stopped, the sun came out, and we enjoyed a beautiful summer day.

We stopped for lunch in Del Norte, once a bustling city of 10,000 people during the mining boom years, and now a small, quiet ranching town of about 1700.

We only had about 60 miles left on today's trip after lunch, and since the sun was shining in Del Norte I took off my rain jacket. We forgot we had one last mountain pass to cross today:  the Wolf Creek Pass over the Continental Divide, and at 10,387' our highest elevation of the day. We saw the rain clouds in the distance and once again stopped to put on raingear. The temperature dropped 20 degrees to 46 degrees at the top of the pass, and we shivered our way through the hairpin turns over the top of the pass until we dropped down to Pagosa Springs.

We're spending the night in Pagosa Springs, enjoying the views of the San Juan Mountains and walking through the town for dinner. The San Juan River runs right by our motel, and we ate dinner at the Riff Raff Brewing Company which is completely heated by geothermal heat from the world's deepest hot spring that gives the town it's name. Tomorrow we continue west through Colorado until we turn south toward Arizona, giving us one more day to enjoy Rocky Mountain motorcycling.

Here is today's route

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