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Finally making some time to share one of my favorite adventures from the summer. After the "SistersRide", I made my way to Montrose, CO. to meet Todd and Ary for Todd's Navy re-union. Ary had a rock climbing friend from college that currently lived in Telluride. I was invited to join them on a rock climbing expedition to take some photos. Ary and I followed Wes to the climbing spot. He was in his truck and we were in our F-250 diesel, Nellie. We were headed to what was called the pipe wall, on the Eastern edge of Box Canyon, up by Bridal Veil Falls. They are the tallest free falling falls in Colorado - rising 365 ft. in height. We followed and climbed the switchbacks up a dirt/stone/gravel road for about 2 miles. Wes was right, we def. needed the truck. Stormy would have loved this road. There were more than a few places where Nellie needed 3 points to make the turn. We even made a water crossing. Have I mentioned that I LOVE water crossings. Little did we know, it would not only be the first of the day, it would be the easiest as well.
As Ary was making her final ascent of the day, we could see the storm in the distance. The darkest of blues, just over Telluride. As she rappelled down, the raindrops began. Very light drops as we made our way back to the trucks. My concern was the water crossing. Water comes up fast during these aft. storms. But within minutes of starting, the rain never really got going and stopped. We were feeling all was right with our world, what a great day.
Wes went his way and Ary and I headed back to Montrose. Just North of Telluride, Wes calls Ary to let her know there was a mud slide and the road was closed. He didn't know the exact location. I saw a shell station on the left and pulled in, I had a gut feeling we were going to need a full tank of fuel, and we needed to look at some maps and re-group.
As I fueled, Ary went in to see if she could find out the exact location of the slide. While fueling, 2 young men on dual sport motorcycles pulled in and parked off to the side. I walked up to them as they were taking off their helmets to let them know about the mudslide. As I got closer, I realized they probably didn't care, they were traveling off road anyway. I simply said, "Looks like you two are having fun". One of them replied, "You would think - I dropped my bike 4 times on that last section - what was I thinking?" I laughed and said - "TAT?" Yes, they were riding the Trans-America Trail. Almost 5000 miles of mostly off road road riding. The dream of Sam Correro, it begins in SW North Carolina and ends in SW Oregon. It runs East to West. I let them know about the mudslide. I wished I was on Stormy, they wished they were in Nellie. We chatted for a couple more minutes and then wished each other good luck, and safe trails.
No one inside knew the location of the slide, we called Todd, and asked him if Betty had time to check out her local Montrose information FB page. The slide was between Sawpit and Placerville. That would prevent us from getting to 62N. There is no easy way around, we were screwed. Wait for possibly 4 hrs. or go S and E to Durango and then N up 550 - "The Million Dollar Highway". Either way, it was going to be a really, really, long day.
I looked at my Butler Map of Colorado and I saw a forest road called "Last Dollar Highway" that was before Sawpit. It would drop us into 62 about 12 miles S of Ridgeway. Then it was an easy 27 miles N into Montrose. I asked Ary to call Jim to see if he knew anything about it. Meanwhile, I talked to the owner of the fuel station. He said we had the perfect truck for it. Jim hadn't been on it personally. Todd was against it -- part of that road could have been washed out. Logical, I guess. Frankly, I think he was worried about Nellie. He just had a new aluminum flatbed, with stake sides, and boxes put on her, he loved her.
I looked at Ary and said, let's just go take a look, if we have a bad feeling, we'll come back to town, get dinner and wait for the road to open. She agreed.
I went by it the first time, nailed it the second time, hahaha. All seemed perfect - note the fullsize photo of Nellie. That was taken when we were about 5 miles in. The road was only 24 miles. Easy Peasy. We hadn't started climbing yet nor had we entered the forest. The first of 6 water crossings was the scariest. Ary took a photo through the window, I didn't have the presence of mind to take a pic. I was worried. It was muddy, I couldn't see the bottom. I'm going to guess 15 ft long by 8-10 ft wide. There were huge logs floating in it. I'm assuming that someone else threw them in to to how deep it was. One of my concerns as well -- also how far would we sink? Nellie was not light, hell, we got stuck at the Hunt Cup one year. Just sank, while Kimmy, in her van, stayed on top and drove off.
I got out, fished the logs out, didn't need them getting stuck underneath her. Found a long, somewhat thinner pole, that I was able to use to test both the depth and the bottom. We were going for it. Not too fast, not too slow, just right! Big cheers -- whoo hoo.
As we continued, the road got narrower, and there was the occasional jeep or truck that was coming in the opposite direction. Most of us figured out how to pass with little difficulty. There was the occasional A-hole -- the first one had NJ plates, the second, PA. At one point, Ary and I had pulled over on a larger section of road to take some pictures. Another F 250 comes by pulling what looks like an enclosed motorcycle trailer. He stops to warn us that up ahead is a cluster F... Lots of people up here that shouldn't be. We thank him, he asks us if we have any beer with us and starts laughing....... hmmmm. He was right and we made our way at a top speed of 5 miles an hr. The road was like grease ----- my heart was in my throat at one point, as we slid around a sharp corner that had nothing but air to the right. Now, we had other people that we had to dodge. Eventually, we started our descent and the road got progressively wider and better. Just as it was when we started -- packed dirt, clay with lots of gravel.
We finally see Rt. 62 in front of us, 24 miles is a lot of miles when you're on forest roads. WE DID IT!! YAY NELLIE --- What a great adventure. Breathtakingly beautiful scenery and the confidence that comes from "just doing it." Now, back to Montrose for that beer!