Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Gunnison to Platoro, Colorado
The day started sunny and around 45 F. We backtracked on Hwy 50 to Doyleville and resumed our adventure via a gravel road. The scenery became quite beautiful as we rode of Cochetopa and North Pass on County NN 14. We stopped for lunch in La Garita and ate our sandwiches on a log picnic table at the entrance to the gas station/restaurant. I was amazed at how friendly the locals were as they walked pass us into the restaurant.
After we left La Garita we backtracked several miles and after numerous wrong turns managed to find the “Natural Arch” mentioned in our guide book. The arch turned out to be a gigantic hole (100 feet high and 40 feet wide) in a lava spine that rose up around 300 feet from where we were standing. Quite impressive.
Our next road was County Road 665 which we rode past two times before we noticed the dirt path through the sagebrush. It was really a rutted jeep road and took me about 100 yards to realize that my VStrom was not designed for such rough conditions. The KLR seemed to do a lot better on the road than I did. At my urging we took an alternate road , County Road 38A, into Del Norte. The best part of the day was yet to come as we started up County Road 330. We rode through a little rain but the view was exceedingly beautiful. Eventually we encountered snow fields going over Indiana Pass (11,910). Snow still blocked the gravel road in several places and we were able to detour around the roadblocks by doing a little cross country riding. I think that if we had attempted this portion of the trip a week or two earlier we wouldn’t have been able to get over the pass because of the snow.
We saw a few cattle on the road and they just watched us ride by with a disinterested glance. We saw 5 or 6 Blacktail deer and they would let us ride within 10 yards of them before they ran away. We saw some elk grazing in a meadow and they fled from us when we were within ¼ mile.
The day ended in Platoro, Colorado. It’s a strange little town in the middle of nowhere on County Road 250, the town used to be a thriving mining city in the last century but has dwindled down to around 50 summertime residences and survives off of trout fisherman and hunters. We talked our way nto the Skyline Lodge, which hadn’t officially opened for the season. Our dinner was perhaps the best hamburger I have ever eaten. We bought several beers off of a workman as the restaurant didn’t have a liquor license. Our rustic room in the lodge was decorated in a “fly fishing” motif along with a moth eaten deer head. No phone or TV. After dinner Jonathan and I played horseshoes as there was nothing else to do in the town. We managed to find a private phone in the grocery store and called BJ to tell her where we were. We learned that after our departure from Edwards the day before BJ had come down with pneumonia and was at home on oxygen. It was too late to ride down the 32 mile gravel road to civilization so we had to spend the night. We both hoped BJ would be OK by herself during the night.