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Colorado BDR - Part 1

Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
At one point I think we were up to 5 vehicles going on the Backcountry Discovery Route but through last minute realities people had to bail and it was down to just me. Even my wife was out of town, which means the dog got her seat.

For anyone who doesn’t know the BDR is a boarder-to-boarder dual sport motorcycle route designed to minimize pavement and maximize scenery. The Colorado route is a north-south direction and I had a weekend to go from the Wyoming boarder through Colorado to I-70 before returning home.

The plan was to leave work at 5:00pm and head straight to the beginning of the trail that night. Thursday I spent time hardwiring my navigation tablet into the car and evidently introduced an electrical gremlin at the same time. All my extra electronics kept flickering on and off on the drive to work Friday, which means I needed to fix it before leaving.

At 5:00 I dug into the wiring, finding the problem it was a quick resolution but in plugging everything in I managed to plug a splitter in backwards resulting in a fried USB adapter. As luck would have it I had spare but it did require removing the dash to swap the part. With that done I needed a few more things at the grocery store. Instead of leaving work at 5:00 I ended up leaving Loveland at 7:00 with a mad dash towards Laramie.

I hit Laramie and pointed west as the sun finished setting. I started getting hit with what sounded like rain but no water was on the windshield. The next morning I realized it was swarm after swarm if mosquitoes.

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I was starting to get tired and decided to pull into Medicine Bow National Forest to find a camping spot for the night. I ended up finding something not too far off the road but enough to be quite with a nice stream behind me.

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The next morning the mosquitoes were trying to carry me away while I cooked breakfast. The last two weekends it was so cold that the mosquitoes weren’t out and I forgot how bad they are in Medicine Bow. It was a quick eat and pack before heading out while Coda played in the stream trying to get as muddy as possible before getting the Jeep.

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We passed the metropolis of Encampment on our way to the start of the trail. I thought about getting gas but was sure something would be closer to the trail so I pressed on.

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Finally made it to the start

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And had a couple Pronghorns watching over the road.

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There was a sign at the turn off stating the road was closed 16 miles ahead, I figured I had come this far I might as well see for myself and continued on. We meandered down the county road until we came to this.

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It looked like we were entering a ranch but that’s the way the road goes so we drove on until we saw the “ranch” proper.

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It had to be the most impressive ranch I had ever seen. Covering what had to be thousands of acres we drove along their fence line for a long time. I had to lookup the ranch and found it was more of a luxury hunting/fishing lodge then ranch but if anyone want’s to visit it’s an impressive place. www.threeforksranch.com

When we finally cleared the ranch property we had a better sense of where we were. I knew we were heading to Steamboat and thought 45 miles wasn’t too bad. Of course that was 45 miles if you took the direct route and we never take the direct route.

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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
So far the road was a well-groomed county road and was happy trade it for a more remote trail and started getting back into the woods.

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The trail popped out on pavement and we continued south until pulling over for lunch.

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Remember the comment about not fueling up in Encampment? I was now running danger low on gas with the low fuel light on for a while now. I kept thinking I was going to hit Steamboat and would fill up there but Steamboat didn’t seem to be getting closer as my brick with wheels continued to drink and an insatiable rate. I decided to dump my extra tank into the primary so I didn’t need to worry about it. Ultimately Steamboat was another 60 miles after the fuel transfer.

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After lunch we headed east in a round about way of getting to Steamboat. We were back on packed gravel roads and found ourselves in the grasslands of ranching territory. The green rolling hills of knee high grass was pretty as it swayed in the gentle breeze.

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Even Coda liked playing in it.

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If you get lost looking for your neighbors there’s always help.

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By now we are getting closer to Steamboat and saw this ranch for sale so I pulled over to see that the asking price was. I don’t know how much land but it was listed for $1.3 million, which didn’t seem like a bad price.

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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
Of course there were signs of those who bought similar places in the past and didn’t know what they were doing either.

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We finally rolled into Steamboat at 1:00 Saturday and pulled over to replenish the two gas tanks.

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After a short pavement section we left Steamboat behind us and continued toward I-70. This was the incredible nonexistent lake. As we skirted the shore I noticed it didn’t appear on my map. My map showed three streams coming together but no lake, I figure they must of dammed up the streams and turned it into a fairly good size lake, it even had a small marina on one side.

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After the lake we transitioned between packed gravel and pavement and back again as we wound our way through dispersed neighborhoods. Finally we made it back into some trails and ended up cutting through some beautiful meadows.

We made a stop at the Rock Creek Stage Station but didn’t have time to wait for a stagecoach.

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The meadow had a creek running through it but the floods and early season runoff had eroded the main road. The creek didn’t look that deep but the middle was a surprise as the water licked the doors even with my lift and 35” tires.

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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
It was getting late and I started looking for a camping spot. I pulled of the main trail to try and get something a little more private. I made it 50 yards before I found this.

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It was a good size tree and something I couldn’t just pull out of the way. I decided to get my Katana out. I’ve debated carrying a chainsaw for situation like this but the probability of needing a chainsaw versus the bulk/fuel/oil wasn’t worth it. Silky is a Japanese company specializing in high quality handsaws (www.silkysaws.com). Not too long ago they introduced the Katanaboy with an almost 20” blade It beings a new definition to what a folding saw is.

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I picked one up earlier this season and couldn’t resist giving it a try. The tree was about 12” and I cut through it in less then 10 minutes, and that was with catching my breath being at altitude.

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Next was to hook it up for a pull with the winch.

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I was able to maneuver far enough to the shoulder to get the tree pulled to side.

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And like that the trail is open again. Whole ordeal was 20 minutes or so.

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So what was my reward for opening a trail? There were three more spurs off this one, all with closed gates and no good camping spot so it was back down and try again.

I ended up stopping in one area but it was too wet and the mosquitoes were swarming as soon as I got out. I decided to get high and dry and found a decent spot on a hill overlooking the road.

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Dinner was a couple seasoned and grilled filets and some corn.

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And of course since I have a fridge so dessert was an ice cream cookie.

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Coda didn’t want to miss out on anything and didn’t sleep all day. By the time dinner was done he was full, warm and ready for bed. He didn’t want to miss out so “rested” his eyes for awhile.

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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast before breaking camp and hitting the trail again. With some great valley overlooks the crispness in the air was subsiding as the sun started to burn through the clouds.

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Of course the reminders of what Colorado used to be are still ever present.

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We followed the Colorado River and watched the rafters and kayakers float down the lazy current.

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Not long after veering away from the water the geography abruptly changed. The soil was replaced with red clay and the pine trees shrank to the size of bushes. It looked more like Arizona then northern Colorado.

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Then almost as suddenly as it came the red clay disappeared and opened to valleys again.

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The last leg before getting to Gypsum would start with a very fine white dust from the white cliffs on either side of the gully. The dust was so fine it kicked up a major cloud behind me.

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The cliff walls opened up to the sagebrush of the desert as the white dust was transformed back to brown.

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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
As always there are reminders of yesteryear,

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and some of not so long ago.

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Rounding the last overlook, Gypsum was sprawled out in front of us as we made our way back to civilization.

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It was 1:00 on Sunday when I filled up in Gypsum. My goal was to get from the Wyoming boarder to I-70 in the two days I had, that goal was accomplished early. I had a decision; head back on I-70 now or continue on the BDR. Looking at the map the BDR headed to Leadville next, my plan was to continue to Leadville and peel off on US24 before taking I-70 the rest of the way back..

I asked Coda what he thought so with a smile and wag we were off to Leadville.

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The beginning of the Leadville leg was fairly uneventful with the usual old cabins dotting the scenery.

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I ended up rounding Sylvan Lake and heading up the twists and turns I noticed splotches of water on the road. It looked kind of like an animal peed on the road but it would stop and then start again over and over for a mile or more. I thought someone might have pulled a boat out of the lake and it was dripping but it didn’t look right. Then I started to see flies gathering around the wet spots and thought it might be a truck that pumped the toilets at the lake and was leaking.

That changed when I came around the bend and was surprised to see this.

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The cowboy at the back said they were moving 200 head and not to worry the cows would move. I slowly pushed into the cows not wanting to scare one too near the drop off on the side of the road.

As I got into the middle of the pack a UTV and ATV were trying to push their way through as well. Needless to say this was not something I was expecting.

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Finally getting out of the cows we made our way out of the forest and the views opened up again.

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Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
We made our way to Frying Pan Road and headed towards Frying Pan Ridge. Halfway through Frying Pan Ridge I started thinking about where we were heading and realized Hagerman Pass was in our future. I’ve been over Hagerman several times and one thing is for sure, it’s high. I was starting to get a little worried this time of year but I was committed so we pressed on.

My fear was true; Hagerman was still closed due to the extreme snow this year.

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I pulled out the map and let Coda play in the stream nearby as I decided what to do. Last time I did Hagerman I came from Eagle and it only took me 2 hours. To get from Gypsum to this point was 3.5 hours and I didn’t really want to go back. With 4:30 on the clock I knew I didn’t want to be stuck on the mountain alone. I decide I would take the short cut back to Eagle and get out that way. So far all the roads on this trip have been doable with a Subaru so this was the first time I needed to air down and throw it in four-wheel drive.

Map in hand we pushed up the mountain toward Eagle. We hit a small snow bank, it wasn’t very deep and I wasn’t worried but there was no tire tracks in it. I hit another drift, this time I had to use a little speed but no problem. Again no tracks, now I was starting to get a little worried since I didn’t want to be opening a trail alone. I got to the third drift; it had pilled up next to a berm to deflect water off the trail. I locked both the front and back and punched it. The snow was too soft and sloppy and I sank to a stop in the deep section.

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At this point a couple MaxTraxx and I could probably drive out. The problem was I brilliantly left my MaxTraxx sitting next to my Trasharoo in the garage. Of course there where no trees around so I grabbed the Pull-Pal and set the anchor.

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I unspooled the full line so I wouldn’t have to reset along the pull.

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The winch and Pull-Pal did what they were designed to do and the Jeep was out and clear. I walked up the rest of the hill and noticed there was a lot more snow to come. Being alone and late on a Sunday I decide to make the wise decision and turn around.

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I looked at the map at the bottom of Frying Pan Ridge while airing up. I could either go over the mountain back to Gypsum the way I came or stick to pavement out to Basalt and up to Grand Junction before hitting I-70. It was now 6:15 and I decided to play it safe and take the long way around.

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I filled up in Gypsum at 8:00, seven hours after leaving previously. The trek home was uneventful and I rolled into the driveway at 11:00, happy to be home.
 

ExplorerTom

Well-Known Member
Yeah but you didn't get to do yard work like I did!

Was the trip a little disappointing in that it was almost all 2wd territory?

With that said, it still looked like a great trip.
 

Overland1

Administrator
Staff member
Tom I thought about that question a lot on the trip. I have respect for the guys who put this together and they have a different requirement being dual sport guys then I do in a 4x4. Overall, yes the trip was a little disappointing in the fact that a majority was hard packed gravel roads. There were a couple areas bordering on trails and some really unique areas as well but I think this route might be better left to the motorcycles or at least have a better expectation of what it will be like.
 

jerdog53

Moderator
I have heard from a lot of other sources that the northern section is a snooze, just wait for the southern section especially around Telluride that is where it rets really interesting!