Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 3: Lake City to Monticello with lots of drama

Where to begin? This day seems like a week. We woke up to a very chilly morning in Lake City. We were trying to start the heater....in August! I can't imagine what winter must be like there. It's a charming little town though and worth the trip to visit.

We got breakfast at the Tic Toc Diner which served up a great meal. While we were eating Beth was having fits with her bike again. At departure time Beth decided her best bet would be to get the bike sorted and rejoin us along the way with a worry free bike.

Our ride started with a ride up Cinnamon Pass at 12,640 feet. The view from the top was amazing and we rejoiced like we were at the summit of Mt Everest. What a special memory. But the decent from the top was a little frightening. After a few switchback's we stopped at the Animas Forks mining town. It's a pretty neat abandoned mining town and the mine shafts are easily visible on the mountain faces around the valley. Pretty cool.

Our group of Gregg, Lloyd, Bob, Mark, and me split at this point and went into Silverton for gas, lunch, and relaxation. The other group took on 4 more passes. I didn't realize I was giving that up for Silverton or I probably would've tagged along with them. But this turns out to be a fortuitous turn of events which I'll come back to.

After Silverton we headed north on a paved road to Ophir Pass. This was a really fun climb but not as picturesque at Cinnamon Pass earlier in the day. In fact, it was probaby 2 pm at this point but staying at high altitude keeps you cool so we were doing alot more with the mid-afternoon than I would at home. Ophir was a nice trip up but a scary trip down. We chugged the bikes in first gear with both brakes on for what seemed like an eternity. The decent took alot out of us physically and mentally. I was looking forward to far less work for the rest of the ride. But pretty quickly we got into some fairly tight and rocky trails which were slow going and required some work to negotiate. About this time our groups came together again on the trail so we had the whole group minus Beth moving along the trail en mass which was kind of fun for a change.

The trail started to get rougher with some mud bogs, washouts, and some deep washes that really snuck up on you. I hit one hard. My arms momentarily went numb and I did a quick evaluation to see if I'd injured myself. But everything was back to normal pretty quickly. I stopped at one of the cattle gates across the trail to close the gate behind the rest of the guys behind me but no one came. I got worried and went back down the trail and sure enough I see Gregg, Lloyd, and Bob standing around that deep wash that had given me trouble. Gregg had a big crash. He was up when I arrived but was clearly in pain. His self-diagnosis was a rib injury to his back. But Gregg being Gregg was ready to mount up and finish the trail. There really weren't alot of options. We got out some first aid kits and wrapped Gregg as well as we could to stabilize the area that hurt him and we all mounted up for a slow trip down the trail. Gregg surprised us all by carrying a quick pace to the end of the trail though! And thankfully the trail ended at a paved road. Gregg, Lloyd, Bob, and Mark took off on paved roads to make thier way to Monticello while we decided to continue down the Trans-America Trail route to Monticello.

This is where things get interesting: Ryan, Dan, and Jeff hadn't gotten gas since the morning and it was iffy if they could make it to a gas stop along the trail. I had plenty since I spent my lunchtime in Silverton. I also had a syphon so we figured I'd be able to lend some fuel if anyone ran out.

So down the trail we go and pretty quickly we got into some wide open spaces where we could run the bikes very quickly on gravel roads. The dust clouds from our bikes were incredibly big and by the time I got to the few turns in the road it was difficult to see where I was going. Then we came to a point where our next road on the route was closed due to a forest fire. As if attempting this with so little fuel wasn't a bad enough idea we were now piecing together our own re-routed route which was taking us further away from civilization. We must have come pretty close to the forest fire because we could see smoke rising over ridgelines and I saw atleast one valley that was very smokey. But we continued on. My Grandmother has accused me of not having the voice in my head that says "This is a bad idea. Maybe I should stop." But I did today and there was really no alternative than to hope our route worked. We were now traveling on dirt roads and trails that vaguely took us North. But the GPS didn't give any indication on the details of the path we were choosing and some of it got hairy. The setting sun was blinding us and then casting shadows on the trail which made it very difficult to see the obstacles. And at this point we really needed to make time. The last section has some fencing along the sides and we were all hoping the fencing didn't close us in because then we'd have some tough decisions to make. Thankfully it opened into the desert floor and we were once again in wide open spaces. I was sooo happy! And then the other bikes started to run out of gas.

I had alot of gas in my tank but it starts to go quickly when you are refueling three other bikes out of the tank. In all I syphoned fuel out of my tank into other bikes 3 times before we could reach a gas station about 30 miles from when the first bike went dry. At that point I was on reserve. A gas station never looked so good. We all celebrated like we'd really done something. In reality we got away with a poor decision.

We took paved roads from the gas station in Dove Creek to Monticello and met up with the other half of our group at the hotel. Gregg is resting tonight and has a ride to the doctor lined up for the morning. He'll have x-ray's and go from there. He's a tough guy to not only ride his bike out of the woods but then ride it close to 100 miles to Monticello. He's really hoping to make it to Moab tomorrow and I am too.

We came looking for adventure and found as much as I want today. Beth had her own adventure but didn't make it to Monticello so I don't know all the details. We heard from her and she's fine but I guess her bike isn't fixed yet. We won't know Gregg's condition until tomorrow so there is no telling what decisions will be made based on that.

Sorry about the lack of pictures the last two days. We had a poor connection in Lake City and the Picasa site is blocked at the hotel business center so I'm using a wireless card which is pretty slow. I'll update from Moab tomorrow probably. We have about a 100 mile ride to Moab in the morning and then some alternatives from there. I'm going to play the weather and if it's crazy hot I'm going to find somewhere cool to enjoy the day.

TAT:Aug10 Larger Pictures

1 comment:

  1. 1 word....AWESOME!

    I hope Beth is able to get her carb issues worked out and B.D. is okay. He's a tough Hombre!

    Appreciate the updates Joe.