Monday, August 3, 2020

Riding around Basalt Colorado on Fryingpan Road

We rode about about 80 miles today on our rest day, heading out Fryingpan Road from Basalt, Colorado toward the Ruedi Reservoir.

Much of the history of the West revolves around trapping, mining and ranching, and this history informs some of the colorful place names we come across. Fryingpan River, and the road that runs along it, supposedly gets its name from a band of trappers who fought with Ute Indians. Two of the trappers survived, and when one left to get help for his injured friend, he tied a frying pan to a tree so he could find the spot.

Today is a Monday so there was very little traffic on the road that sweeps around tight turns as it follows the winding river.

Steep wooded or grassy mountains rise along the river on one side, and on the other side we rode past tall, red sandstone cliffs.

13 miles from Basalt we came to the Ruedi Reservoir, built in 1968 to divert water to the thirsty cities in the Front Range. 

We continued on east past the reservoir, climbing higher into the mountains. We passed the tiny settlement of Thomasville, established to support the railroad that used to run where the highway is today as well as the lime kilns that produced powdered lime from the limestone rock in the cliffs. One of the residents really wants to traffic to slow down, and placed a traffic cone with a tree branch as well as a very small child's chair along the center line in the highway - seeing these definitely made us slow down.

Continuing west, we passed Norrie Colony, a lumber camp in the 1880's that included a school, dance hall, and post office. 

I was surprised to see another dam on the Fryingpan River. Chapman Dam was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This is a much smaller reservoir with a campground along the side.

Fryingpan Road continues on, climbing to 11,925' at Hagerman's Pass which is about 5,300' higher in elevation than Basalt. We turned around before the pass, retracing our way west back to Basalt.

It was a beautiful morning for a short ride, and we spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Carbondale. Tomorrow we head west toward Pagosa Springs, continuing our wandering trip through Colorado.

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