Day 4! We woke up to London fog and dew all over the place. It was great! Keep in mind that we are still both infatuated with cold weather or weather in general for that matter. At home it's been 105+ for over a month. No moisture and no relief.
Waking up to this was sweet relief. I decided I was wearing shorts again!
As I walked about taking pictures of the great views a man in full real tree camo walked up the deserted track in front of me. It's an odd thing. As a young adult I would have been concerned. (At least that's my guess. Scary hunter person or something) I was relieved and excited to see a fellow outdoor lover. He said he was up in the saddle of a mountain not too far away camping and looking for bucks.
It's deer archery season. I asked about the "predator doe" fromt he night before and he said that there are so many deer that doe's are rarely hunted. Therefore they're fearlessness.
He mentioned out of concern that during the night's rains the road washed out about a half mile down the road. He said that he parked his truck before it not daring to try and drive over the wet, muddy, tilted mess.
We chatted for a while and it struck me how nice everyone we'd run into had been. I surmise it's a little like desert culture. (Modern day desert culture excluded since with modern inventions people don't NEED to rely on each other. Ex. Phoenix, AZ) In older desert cultures, like Morocco for example, people always welcome a stranger/traveler into their homes for help or a meal. It comes from the whole society understanding that no ones survives without others help. In the mountains it's similar. Every trip we make here we have to help at least a couple people out and vice versa. It's a good thing in our opinion.
After packing up we headed down the hill to see what we were in for. It looked pretty bad! The coal black fresh soil looked loose and it was at such an angle that it would get tippy.
Laziness prevailed. The thought process went something like this: His truck was a stock Tacoma. My truck had lockers, larger tires, was aired down etc. So, we went for it. It was mushy, tippy, and a little stupid. Not that stupid. I know my truck better than most and I took the calculated risk. We made it across with no problems thankfully.
When we woke up this morning we decided to forgo breakfast and coffee. Why, you might ask? So we can eat breakfast with the best view in town. Atop Black Bear pass overlooking Telluride.
We hit the trail and made quick work of passing a big tourist truck trundling along Black Bear Road.
We took the hard road up. There is an option near the top. The harder section may be worth it just because it's pretty. The whole trail is extremely well signed letting folks know where not to go and what illegal bypasses are closed. The section below wasn't signed and heavily traveled so I assume it's okay. It's been there for so long it's on older maps as well.
Toyota commercial at the pass.
Always a good sign to see letting you know that the big RV's aren't around the next corner. Although, it might normally mean the trail is lightly used, up on Black Bear it's best to go early in the morning so you don't end up behind an entire 4x4 club's group.
Well, it was only 9:30, but then again we had breakfast to make!
Near the top we came upon a good looking white Jeep Rubicon from Airpark Jeep right next to my office in Scottsdale, AZ. Turns out the Jeep was a new 2012 with the more powerful motor and a manual transmission. Nice! The best Jeep available in my opinion, besides the J8 of course. (I love the J8 and plan to steal it from my buddy Scott, shhhh!!! It'll be our secret!)
We caught up to the Jeep and UTV that was with him below and chatted for a bit. Turns out the owner of the Jeep had never done Black Bear in addition to this being the first trail with his new truck! Now that is a heck of way to break it in. Also, it's a heck of a way to learn your truck or get killed. Let's see which happens! The folks in the UTV weren't street legal so they couldn't go down into Telluride with it. They asked if I could help their friend in regards to getting down Black Bear. Sure, we said!
Skinny shelf road behind.
Just a side note. I need to find out if Marmot's taste anything like chicken. If they do I'm going to get a license and self support the trip from hunting. We must have seen a thousand. Not "like" a thousand, but at least that many. They were all over the place!!
Just heading down the hill.
The fella with the new Jeep was really nice. He didn't mind me butting in on his Jeep and making suggestions on what to do and more importantly what NOT to do. "Stay away from the lockers, leave the sway bar disconnect off. Enjoy and use that great 4 to 1 transfer case instead of the brakes when you can." Jeep fell: If you ended up finding this blog you should head on out to the Overland Expo. You asked how I knew to instruct as well as so much about your Jeep. I'm a sometimes instructor at the Expo.
It was contagious to see that ear to ear grin mixed with dread on his face. It reminded me of the first time I came down Black Bear. As they say, there can only be one first time. It's really true in all things.
Our new Jeep friend was doing really well. He kept it slow and never slipped a tire.
Now, that's a view.
I was reminded how much I love the turning radius of my 4runner.
Lot's of mine openings. This one was literally on the trail. I had missed it before.
This is near the big scary/tippy part of the trail. From here down the trail is one way. To be honest it's really one way the whole time. If you were to run across someone at most other parts one of you would be backing up on some sketchy road!
First good look at Telluride. Notice the old mine rigging above.
This is where your heart first misses a beat if it hasn't already. "Wait, the road just drops off. I think it's washed out. Is that how it's supposed to look!!??"
I wish I would have caught your name fella. After a brief talk about how, yes it will be both awesome and scary, he headed off. I walked behind the truck with words of encouragement and also because I felt responsible at this point. If his truck started veering into a bad line I wanted to say something. He did it perfectly so I just shouted words of encouragement. Not bad for a brand new truck!
Now there is a good one for ya! If you read this shoot me a message and I'll get you a high quality copy without the watermark.
This is where it can get sketchy for tall, top heavy, lifted trucks. They have a much worse time here than the stock ones.
This is a shot of the turn in the previous shot looking back up at it. I walked down with him and then a couple bikes came around the corner. This is not a good place to learn front brake discipline on a dirt bike! Wet, steep, and big consequences.
I said farewell to our new friend. He headed off to get back to his friends and drink a morning sixer I'd guess. Anything to quell the nerves after the first time doing this trail.
Walking back up to the breakfast spot where I parked.
Similar shot without the Jeep there. There is a rock that tilts you out just at the moment the cliff is most near and you have to turn right.
I was enjoying the eggs and bacon so much I almost forgot to take any pics of the spot. I just grabbed one with the camera-phone.
My truck was much higher, had a roof rack that was loaded and most importantly has no sway bars anymore. I knew it would be fine, but it all added a bit of "first time" anxiety not knowing what to expect.
Off we went!
Where did the road go!?
The first time we did this road we were headed down all alone just like this time . In the morning with a light drizzle. It's when I first instituted "quiet time." From that moment on D knows that if I say, quiet time, that it's some stuff that's a bit sketchy and I need to listen to every single noise going on. Including to hear my many thoughts.
Go to the video footage:
The road goes on into Telluride.
The old mining era power generating station. Someone shoot me a line if the caretaker position ever opens up! I'm serious.
Notice the steel line. Along it runs a gas powered motor to pull a little aluminum bucket fit for 2 to the top. It's the only way the caretaker can get to the home in winter. How is that for a grocery run or worse yet a run to the bar.
We walked around Telluride for a bit and then I decided I needed to take advantage of the free lift passes at Telluride resort.
I took the Gondola up and did the "double blue" down hill run. Now, on a 29er fully rigid single speed it was still fun. I thought that was easy enough so I transitioned to the black diamond Pan-Coaster run. Not my smartest moment. I fancy myself a technical rider, but I was in for a treat. It was fairly technical, but ridable at first. I was pushing it way too hard because I kept picturing someone on a downhill bike flying up behind me. There was no one there being a Monday morning, but it made me take bigger risks than I would have. As I flew around a turn I had a delayed reaction. "I think I just read a sign that said "bypass."" What the heck did that mea...OH MY!! Ahead, down a 10 foot drop was a ramp and then air. A big air over an entire cat track (Think a wide jeep trail). I locked up the brakes for many reasons. The little rigid bike stopped within inches of the edge and with one foot un-clipped I almost fell right off.
Phew! I made it! I walked around the drop off and the bike came down in a less than graceful fashion. When the rear tire hit I heard a PING! Oops, there goes a spoke. Now some air. I had to get on an ride to give the tubeless sealant a chance to fill the hole. I got on and rode until the rear tire was almost flat. Pumped it up and kept riding. The hole was sealed and I finished the run just fine.
Angry about hurting my bike, but fine.
Without a working wheel I loaded the bike up and headed back to Telluride.
Once D and I met up we headed for Imogene Pass.
As you ascend Imogene you get a great view back at Black Bear Pass. The sharp looking Z markings on the side of the mountain are the switchbacks from the video above.
Lots of tractors on the pass's this time of year. They need to do as much maintenance in the few and short snow free months.
It's interesting and a bit sad to see the sites deteriorate. From just a few short years ago some buildings had completely fallen and most had noticeably gotten worse.
Above the tree line and above the "anything but moss" line as we near the pass.
The old Mailbox up at the pass.
Ah shucks I'm a lucky guy.
Hey, I'm cold. She stole my flannel!
Looking back at the last section we just ascended of Imogene Pass.
As we came down Imogene I wanted to check out this mine entrance off to the side of the main trail.
Upon seeing there was nothing else we wanted to explore I did what I always do when leaving an old mining area, back up. Just in case there are old bits of metal such as nails I always back up as apposed to venturing closer to the mine/debris in a sweeping turn around when leaving.
This time my luck ran out. I backed up and instantly heard a bad noise. Bang, WHOOOOSH!!! Then nothing. The weird part is that the whoosh was only for about 5 seconds. I've never had a tire loose all it's air so fast. That is a very bad sign.
I plugged the hose into my air tank and aired it up really quick and as fast as I added it, the air rushed back out. At least finding the slashed opening was easy! I jacked it up and pulled the bum tire. Spare, you say? No, I always refuse to use a spare until necessary. An old friend taught me that just about every flat can be plugged. I threw 5 plugs in it, aired her up and listened. (Use a little spit when soapy water is lacking.) No bubbles. NOT bad! (of course it was under no load at that moment so I knew that was not going to last)
It's worth a shot. I threw it on and drove around in a couple circles. After I had chucked the offending rock as far as I could. (While almost throwing my arm out of it's socket) The site must have been peculiar. A guy driving in slow circles with a lady crouched over walking and cocking her head over at the right rear tire. No noises D said. Good! So let's run it down to Ouray and re-check tire pressure to see how fast of a leak it is.
When we checked the tire pressure upon leaving Ouray it was only 2 pounds down. Good, a slow leak!
With the end of the day nearing we headed on to Sydney Basin.
This mine is along Yankee Boy Basin. Great looking mine. NOTE: You can no longer camp along the river next to this mine. It's posted all over the place. It used to be one of our favorite spots to camp.
Not far from this spot we saw a pair of boot's soles from long ago. Evidenced by the fact that there were old nails sticking out of them. What was amazing is that we saw several more pairs of old boot soles here again this time. Some With leather uppers still attached.
I was excited to catch the tail end of the Wild Flower season.
A rocky section of trail in Sydney basin.
This was a great place to end the day. Oddly, I had cell phone service so I spent some time locating a tire. The fellow at Telluride tire went above and beyond by calling Big O Tires in Montrose when he realized he couldn't help me. The interesting part is that I had called Big O in Montrose and someone there had said they could not get the tire next day and if they could get it, it wouldn't be until Friday at the earliest.
Glad I kept calling around. When I called Big O back and talked to the person "Telluride Tire" had he said no problem and that he'd place the order. The only issue was that there was 1 tire showing in stock so if stock was off by, well 1, I'd be out of luck. Looks like I'll find out tomorrow if I get a new tire or not.
Then we made some giant smores before crashing out for the night. It was, after all, a long day of great sights and experiences.
Just writing this I'm exhausted.