After waking up at a leisurely pace and cooking some oatmeal and coffee, we started up the road at around 8:00am on the Million Dollar Highway toward Ophir Pass.
Since it was early, very few cars passed us on our way to the pass.
We took a few pictures and rested at the top of the pass. We could see a slight increase in car/truck traffic from the top of the pass. There is something lacking when you get to a peak that is accessible to cars and trucks. Am I right?
The day before, the "most beautiful race on Earth" had its first race on Ophir Pass (Telluride 100). The course was still marked as we were riding up to Ophir Pass. Surprisingly, very few tire marks could be seen during the ascent to Ophir.
The route then dropped to the Oscar Pass Trail, but not before descending through some rocky sections.
Frankly, I had heard about the next section of trail from Mike Curiak and Lee Blackwell's trip several years ago. Lee commented by saying there were sections that were so steep that it was "a hike-a-bike." Although, they had gone down what we were going to be climbing up. Before the ride, I asked Scott and he recommended trying to find a new route.
Well, the "new route" option had presented itself earlier, but we decided to muster up our inner-HAB and just go for it.
The route goes up 3,000 feet in roughtly 2.5 miles.
Ophir Pass in the background
With rain and thunder in the background, Aaron and I were both ready to get to the top of the pass and began descending. Toward the top of Oscar Pass, the trail crossed a very large, steap snow drift that covered the trail. As few people traverse this trail, nobody had postholed through this area. Aaron started going across (in his non-HAB friendly shoes), slipped and almost lost balance. He was spooked and jittery. Not good.
Aaron quickly suggested that we climb up and over the snow drift. Frankly, that was impossible because of the sheer size of the snow and the steep sides that we dould have to climb. I told him that I would go first, postholing as I went so that he would have adequate steps to follow. I got across safely and began to coach him through the steps. I went back to grab his back to give him more balance. After several minutes, he got across.
Lesson of the day....HAB friendly shoes in the high country are a must.
We pushed on toward the top as the storm approached.
Taking a page from Day 2 (when the storm was coming as we neared a pass), we decided to do the opposite of outrunning a storm....enjoy the storm by sitting and making some coffee.
Looking down into the Ophir Valley
Coffee and Storms (a)brewing!
This place is somewhere I would like to spend several days (if not weeks) getting to enjoy. Incredible. The instant coffee was pretty incredible too.
Unfortunately, lightning in the background near Ophir Pass made us leave after resting for 30 minutes.
We turned left at Wasatch and begain to ride down into Telluride.
Laughter, followed by gasps of excitement upon seeing the views combined with snow, wildflowers, jagged peaks, the colors....
Perhaps it is because I am a native-Tucsonan and live in a desert, but this place makes me smiles. It makes me want to come back and live here. Winter in Arizona, summers in Colorado....hmmmmmm. We descended down, stopping to talk to a few hikers. One commented, "I can't believe you are out here riding this" and another said that "Wasatch was named Best Trail in the US by Outside magazine several years ago,"
For now, I leave you quite a few pictures to enjoy and decided for yourself...
Brown Dog pizza and a camping spot down by the river again....I stopped by ACE hardware and bought a car visor to sleep on. It was not the same as the Big Aggie clearview pad, but the extra padding did help a little that night.
View from our camping spot, Bridal Veil
Met some new cyclists that were touring while we were there and even drank some local beer. More from day 4 and day 5 to come....