Thursday, September 6, 2007

"his-self" Plays Hooky

As reported two posts ago, The Circle spent one night together in Breckenridge over the long weekend. We all were hoping that we could do more but that wasn't to be. The men of The Circle in particular have planned for a couple of years to do a 4 wheel drive trip up Mosquito Pass which is about 30 miles south of Breckenridge. The timing last weekend was just not right.

All of us guys were really disappointed because we have been trying to do this for a couple of years and the season for driving it is very short. Because of the altitude and normal Colorado snow, the road is passable only between late July and late September. If we didn't do it soon this year, it would be next summer before we got the chance again!

Monday we all split up and went our separate ways but we were all thinking "Mosquito Pass". Tuesday, Guitar emailed me that maybe we could go back and do the pass later in the week. This was a short week anyway due to the holiday and I felt like I had to accomplish some things at work. It was even more difficult for me to rationalize a mid-week "break", as I will be on vacation all next week.

Wednesday afternoon Guitar called me and said he and Too Tall - Two Timing were gonna do it! "You gotta come." he said............OK, I admit it. I have no self control when it comes to matters like this............."I'm in." I said.

This morning (Thursday) I met Guitar at his house at 7 am and we heade
d to Fairplay, CO in his Jeep to meet up with Too Tall-Two Timing and K. After a hearty breakfast at The Brown Burro restaurant we headed for Mosquito Gulch.

An advancing cold front was ma
king things look a bit dicey. K. said that it had rained pretty hard all night in Breckenridge, just up the road. The cloud cover looked ominous. It was one of those situations that might blow over and leave a gorgeous day.....or might get nasty and dump a bunch of snow. We decided to press on an re-evaluate once we got higher up.

As it turned out, it blew over and left a gorgeous day. Luck was with us so far.

Guitar and I had to go back to the Denver area
today, so we agreed that we would go to the summit but then come back down the way we went up instead of continuing through to Leadville. The first part of the road is pretty easy for even regular vehicles to do if they go slow. After three or four miles we came to the London Mine Mill. This was the processing plant for the ore from the London mine that was further up the mountain.

London mine was first located in 1874 and was worked at least up into the 1930's and maybe even longer. The remnants of both the mill and the mine ore house are just fantastic relics of days gone by. Even though the climate is very harsh at this altitude, the dryness preserves these buildings far longer that would be in a humid climate. Wandering around these old buildings really seems to connect me with a bygone era.

A little further up the road we stopped at the ore house and just marveled at the view. The scale of the mountains was so enormous that it makes you dizzy just trying to keep everything in perspective. I know I use a lot of superlatives when I talk about mountain scenery but I can't help it. The Colorado Rockies are just the most beautiful place I have ever experienced.

From the mine itself the road gets pretty narrow, steep and bumpy but it's not anything a reasonably equipped 4 wheel drive vehicle can't do. Guitar and Too Tall-Two Timing are excellent drivers
so I had nothing to worry about.

Oh, did I say that I was RIDING not driving. I mentioned in one of my posts about Moab, UT that I don't drive these kind of trails....I have friends that like to drive them. It's not that I can't or don't have the skill. I just like looking more than I like driving and you have to pay a LOT of attention when you're driving. Besides I have a lot of other money sucking hobbies and diversions that don't allow me to acquire the vehicles that are necessary to do this type of driving.

Back to the story. Once beyond the mine, the road requires a little more attention. We were now well above timberline and in about 30 more minute
s came to the summit...13,185 feet above sea level. What a view! What wind! That front that just moved through packed some pretty hefty winds on the back side. I would estimate that the wind was blowing easily at 40-45 mph as we stood on the exposed ridge at the summit. Some more rubber necking and picture taking and we headed down the way we came up.

We stopped again at the ore house and ate a simple lunch that with the surroundings tasted like a gourmet meal. We were back at the mouth of Mosquito Gulch at about 3 pm and home by 5 pm.

I guess I should feel guilty about playing hooky today...but I don't. Matter of fact, if Guitar calls again tonight, I'm ready for another adventure tomorrow.....This work thing is way over-rated!!

Thanks for visiting.

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