Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tour Divide 2014 Day 9 Brazos Ridge & Horca

It was a cold night on Burned Mountain.  A lot colder than I thought.  My sleeping bag ( Western Mountaineering ) was supposed to be rated to 25 degrees, but I was pretty chilled at different times during the night.  So the sun coming up and hitting me was pretty welcome.  And as soon as I started rolling I saw big RV's and knew I had crested Burned Mountain and was close to the Hopwell Lake campground that I had planned to get to in the first place.

At Hopwell Lake, I refilled my water, washed up a bit and then did a fast downhill on Hwy 64 until I got to FR133.  There was a short climb and then several miles of rollers through grassland and woods.  At one point I was above a creek and heard a group of animals and looked to the west..  I had startled about 25 elk and they were running up a hill out of shade into sunlight on green grass.  Since I was higher above the creek, I had a nice perspective on them, akin to what you see on Nature, where a film of a small herd of animals is taken from an aircraft.  It was pretty cool !

FR133 kept going and then turned into rangeland once again and got rough.  At some point I heard this banging around sound in front of me on the bike and looked down to see that my Garmin etrex had popped loose from it's mount and was dangling from the lanyard.  At some point I remembered reading on that you should tie your Garmin to something because it WILL pop off and if it isn't tied down you're going to have to go back and hunt all over the road to find it.  Only took a few seconds to reseat it where it was supposed to be and then move on.   I crossed more rangeland, and finally got to the Rio San Antonito a really pretty little river.   Ate something at a grove of cottonwoods and then climbed more.  The rest of the early afternoon would be all climbing to the Brazos Ridge that overlooks the Cruces Basin Wilderness.

The sky got a bit darker and I am still climbing.  At one place a bit of rain started and I stopped and got my warm stuff on.  About 5 minutes later the sun came out, so then got to take the rain stuff off !   The road got harder to navigate and turned into a rock garden and then as I got closer to the top became mostly unrideable for me and I just pushed the bike up the mountain to the 11,000 foot level.

The top of Brazos Ridge was pretty.  Not very many trees and a little bit of snow under some of the trees in a couple of places.  On the north side there still was a drift of leftover winter snow.

And then it was time to descend and I began to realize that I didn't have a lot of braking power left.  My front brake had seemed weak for the last couple of days, but now the rear was a little weak also.  Once again, the map shows a good descent, but that's not quite true, there's always a hill or two around !  After several more miles, I see the sign that says "Leaving Carson National Forest" and one that says "Entering Rio Grande National Forest" and that is the Colorado State Line.

There were still a few miles to go to get to Horca, with a last little climb to cross the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad ( an old fashioned coal fired, narrow gauge, steam engine railroad ! )   Highway 17 was in front of me and I finally got to a 9 mile descent on pavement to Horca.

At Horca I found a restaurant and had a great meal, sweet iced tea, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, bread with honey !  Lots of calories went onboard.  But I didn't find a campground and I ended up back in the bivy in front of the restaurant and fell asleep.
Rangeland before the big climb

Top of Brazos Ridge

FR87 ( pretty rideable here ) on Brazos Ridge


Slightly down from the high point of the Ridge - beautiful

Rio Grande National Forest - This is Colorado !

Cumbres & Toltec Tracks

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