What a day near Ouray!

Dear Editor,
I left work yesterday on my trusty Honda and headed up Red Mountain Pass, thinking I would enjoy the beautiful Indian Summer. I signaled and turned off onto Engineer Pass. In a moment I was turning and twisting, jumping over ditches and rocks. I was riding up some steep rock steps and thought, "Man, that was cool, I must be cool too." Then I looked down to realize that I was riding along with my turn signal still blinking after two miles of hard riding (what a ginormous nerd, totally uncool). I kept riding around the patches of snow that were starting to appear here and there along the road, always thinking I would get turned around by the snow at the next turn. As I rode through the now bare aspen groves, I realized for the first time how far the drop was that you usually can't see because of the leaves. In some places the drop is four to five hundred feet! The fact that you are riding a foot from certain death is a sobering thought. As I looked to the south up Poughkeepsie Gulch, I reflected on what a blessed man I am to be so lucky to live in such a place. One of the best parts of riding off road is getting lost in your own thoughts. As I got above timberline, the patches of snow disappeared and I could step it up a gear and start moving. I reached the branch off to Animas Forks and took it. Looking over my left shoulder up Engineer Pass I couldn't see any snow. I slid to a stop, did a 180 degree turn and continued up. As I reached about 12,000 feet, snow was drifted along the road with every switchback. The road narrowed. It became a mission to get to the top. As I got to the summit, the passable road was now less than two feet wide. The snow finally covered the road just twenty-five feet shy of the summit turn to Ooh Point at about 12,750 feet. I got off of my 650, stood in the snow, snapped a couple of pictures and thanked God for making this incredible place. At about 4:30 p.m., I wrestled my bike around and headed down toward Silverton. I passed a Land Rover about a mile past the ghost town of Animas Forks; this was the first vehicle in over 18 miles. As the sun went behind the mountains, the temperature started to drop rapidly and I stopped, put on some gloves, zipped my coat and headed down to Silverton. Two miles past Silverton, back on pavement again, I marveled that I had just passed my 5th car since taking off onto Engineer Pass. Twenty minutes later, I pulled into the driveway with about 53 miles on the odometer. What a great day!

Brad Clark