Monday, July 28, 2008

Jones Pass

Headed up to Jones Pass again on Sunday. I really wanted to explore the aquaduct trails/roads on the west side that I didn't get a chance to visit last weekend when I was sidetracked on the CDT.

Quite a bit had melted since last weekend.
Jones Pass July 27, 2008
I took a more challenging line up and over the cornice this time. I really had to make sure that the bike was acting as a good anchor because the steepness of the snow was over 40-degrees and a slip would've resulted in a lot of pain.
Cresting the cornice
There were already clouds building and it was only 11am...I knew I was taking a risk by dropping down the west side of the pass and I've been stuck on this side before but what the heck, I'll take that chance. Here's the aquaduct trails/roads I was heading towards
Looking down from Jones Pass West
The first one was a mellow road to begin with
Aquaduct south
Then things got a little more techincal as I neared its end
Fun Aquaduct trail (south)
As I was cruising back, I came across a moose! I must have spooked her because all I saw was a BIG dark brown butt! I had seen a pair a few years ago up here but it still startled me. I stopped, turned around, and went back to take a picture but she was gone. Here's about where I saw her (you can see Jones Pass in the background).
Jones Pass West
So then it was back to the bottom of Jones Pass to start the next aquaduct trail. As I stopped to refill my water bottle this little chipmunk just about ran up my leg. I turned around and he was sitting on my seat. I scared him a bit but he came back, this time up my front tire. I gave him a piece of dried mango and we talked over lunch.
My little buddy
Then he went back into the woods and I went off down the other aquaduct trail. Here's a shot of the second one from the first one. You can really see the devistation the pine beetles have caused in this valley.
I haven't downloaded the GPS yet so I'm not sure how far I went but I made it all the way past the campground at the confluence of the two Williams Forks (but it was 2,000 ft below me). I ended up riding off the map I had on my GPS and I found an interesting fact: If you ride beyond the GPS map, it disappears completely only leaving your track. I finally reached my turn around time and reversed course. Back up Jones Pass I went. I saw zero people once I was off of Jones Pass...Just the way I like it.
Jones Pass West
Denver has been experiencing a heat wave these last couple of weeks. We're going for a record number of days over 90F (I think we're at 15 now) and we're already on record for the driest year ever up to this point...But on top of Jones Pass below the undercast sky, I needed to put on my jacket because I was starting to get really cold.

Next time I'll be ready to hit the Williams Fork Loop. I really wanted to scope out the aquaduct trails to see if it would be any easier on the Loop to hike up to one of these trails instead of taking the trail that was littered with downed timber the last time I was one it. My conclusion was that the hike-a-bike up to the road wouldn't really save that much time because it was at most 2,000 feet (near the campground) with no trail and lots of downed timber too (due to the beetles). At least I had a nice day of 'alone time'.

Here's the stats:
Distance: 44.8 miles
Total Time: 7:08
Stopped Time: 0:42
Climbing: 6237ft

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