Up at about 6 after a terrible nights sleep. Rolled on down to Cripples Creek, beautiful place, but unfortunately now turned into some sort of gambling resort. Mind you, the place is pretty, but built on a gold rush that ended over a hundred years ago. Decided to head out to the south towards Canon. The GPS kept trying to divert me down a dirt road I didn’t want to go down, so I kept going on the paper map, until it appeared the GPS was right. However after only a few hundred yards the blacktop ended and I was on a dirt road I didn’t really want to be on with some 29 miles left.. AG! Clock was a ticking so I decided to keep rolling forward. Initially it was easy through fairly flat forest, but then the terrain got progressively more impressive, then incredibly impressive. I just couldn’t figure out what such an impressive dirt road was doing going through the middle of nowhere.
The drive was stunning and thankfully very short of cars coming in the other direction. This is what I love about America, its not so much the things you know are there, it’s the things you don’t. Lost and just looking for a way back to the main road, and you come across a gem like this! For me it was at least as impressive as The Needles highway in the Black Hills. The difference of course is that one crawls, where as this I only saw about 3 cars on. However that cuts both ways, and more than once as I drove past sharp looking rocks in the middle of the road I though about how vulnerable my position was. I had virtually no water or food in the car (I wasn’t expecting to be this isolated) and there was no chance of the phone working in such a deep gorge. Go off the road here, and you may never be seen again! I took my time :-), and not just due to the vulnerability, it was a beautiful place. Rocks at the top were a sort of pink sherman granite-like, then lower down it became sedimentary of some sort.
So who would build a road like this? I just couldn’t figure it out, it was a phenomenally expensive road to nowhere. The answer came near the bottom. Turns out Cripple Creek had been a gold rush town, and so they had built a railway up to it. Hence the remarkably steady grade, and a road going through ‘mountains’ etc.
Back on the main road I picked up some fast food and headed onto Salida. There I started to put some of my digital affairs in order. Most notably to do some preparation on the talk I’m giving, and secondly to catch up with the blog and upload some of the footage I’ve got over the past few days. Damn was the upload at mcdonalds slow. Took a couple of hours to upload a 50mb video, and both time crashed just before the end (the connection reset) GAHHH!! Still managed to get a load processed done though, before heading on up towards Montrose pass. There was a small and very quiet and secluded siding for the old pass where I stopped for the night, oh… and that bliss of when the engine is turned off and there is complete silence in the forest, and just the gentlest of winds on the skin under the moonlit sky!