Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29th, 2009 - Cinnamon Pass to Telluride

The next morning, after bagel sandwiches for me and Dave and an all-you-can-eat breakfast at Poker Alice for Ann, we set off on the remaining leg of the Alpine Loop, Cinnamon Pass.

I don't know whether we forgot to latch it or if it was the "drunken riding" (swerving back and forth across the trail to find the smoothest line for myself and passenger while we were sitting) but at one point the Givi V46 popped open. Nothing fell out but it was a good thing Dave was behind us to let us know.

The trail up Cinnamon was gorgeous and straightforward with some tight, steep switchbacks. Ann and I were getting pretty good at them at this point, approaching slowly on the outside of the turn, standing, leaning the bike with the pegs and couting on the torque of the F800GS to pull us up the other side. I'll admit I went wide on one, opting to come to a stop with my front tire in the loose stuff. And, yes, I did dump us once but of course that was at a stand still after stopping to take off a jacket. Damn short legs.

Ann gets a little giddy at altitude... Here she’s pretending she’s on the moon.

Then down the other side into Animas Forks. Decent required a little more care than climbing to keep our bulk from sliding. And the rental jeeps moving at various speeds and in lines of various lengths in front of us made it a challenge to keep a regular pace.

We ran into a group of four or five guys on thumpers as we left Animas Forks and got some info on the trail ahead. They warned that there would be some tough parts ahead for riding 2-up and mentioned some specific steep downhill switchbacks to look out for. Cautious but confident, we continued up California Pass.

From here, the names of the passes and gulches and such start to get a little fuzzy in my memory. I had been so worried about riding Engineer and Cinnamon 2-up on the big bike that I didn't look to closely at what came next. I believe from Cinnamon, we climbed a little ways to Hurricane Pass and then descended for a while. Just about when it looked like the trail would take us on a smooth road into a valley, it turned steeply upwards and traversed a ridge overlooking Corkscrew Gulch and climbing to the pass. Some of my favorite scenery was in this section although I don't know that we got a good picture of it.

We slid our way down the other side, some of the loosest, steepest trail we'd been on to a little parking area and a bathroom and talked about some options. We could either press forward on the TAT in the afternoon and camp somewhere in the San Juan National Forest or we could cut right after Ophir Pass and head to Telluride since Ann had never been and enjoy a nice hotel and dinner. We bumped down the steep and rutty trail to 550 in increasing rain and made for Sliverton for some lunch and to dry off.

After a decent lunch (although I don't think any of us would recommend the touristy and huge "Brown Bear Cafe" - "Black Bear?"), we took advantage of a break in the weather to make for Ophir Pass. At the turn off 550, we ran into two guys on KTM's heading for WestFest. One was having problems in the altitude with his carbureted 950 but had a plan to pull a secret wire somewhere to get it running right. We took the turn and proceeded up the pass.

While the climb was pretty, the descent's really the interesting part. We waited for a couple jeeps to come up and started down.

As you might imagine, at the bottom of the pass and after a long day on tough trails and high altitudes, the Telluride option won out over camping. We stopped at the visitor center on the way in and got a $149 rate for a two room suite at the Icehouse with a bar, flat screen TV's, and most importantly, a roof from the rain that fell for the next three hours while we napped, downloaded pictures, and caught up on email. Well worth it.


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