Day 15 – Ivanhoe Lake, CO to Red Dirt Bridge, CO – 115 miles
This was easily the coldest morning of the entire trip.
The road down from Ivanhoe Lake follows an old railroad grade, and is a pretty easy drive. At Ivanhoe, a railroad tunnel was built in 1891 which essentially goes under Hagerman Pass, and ends just above Turquoise Lake on the Leadville side. It replaced the shorter Hagerman Tunnel, which at over 11,500 feet, was one of the highest tunnels ever built. The new Busk- Ivanhoe Tunnel allowed much easier rail traffic across the Continental Divide.
The tunnel was converted from a rail tunnel to an automobile toll tunnel in 1922, and renamed the Carlton Tunnel. It was abandoned in 1942 and collapsed in 1945. Beginning in 1921, the tunnel was also used to steal divert water from the western slope to the eastern slope. Water could still flow through the rubble, and the tunnel was repaired to a degree after the collapse. It is still used to divert water to this day. The eastern entrance to the tunnel is just above Turquoise Lake, but I missed it on the way up the pass.
We had to divert off the BDR and down Frying Pan Road due to a large wildfire at Sylvan Lake. The diversion took us by Ruedi Reservoir, where we used to sail when I was a kid, and down into Basalt. Onto Highway 82 and then up an over Cottonwood Pass (8,280 feet) to Gypsum, where we rejoined the BDR after getting fuel and supplies. This, obviously, is not the same Cottonwood Pass we traversed a few days ago.
In fact, there are 3 Cottonwood Passes in Colorado! Additionally, there are two Arapaho, Big Horn, Browns, Buffalo, Denver, Grassy, Hoosier, Muddy, Pawnee, Ptarmigan, Spring Creek, Squaw, Storm, Taylor, Narrows, and Windy passes, three Columbine, Red Mountain, San Francisco, Notch, and Yellow Jacket passes, four Gunsight, and Saddle passes, and six Ute passes, just to keep things confusing!
From Gypsum, we traveled north to the Colorado River, where we found a nice camp spot at Red Dirt Bridge. Bill noticed the rear seal on his Jeep was leaking, and changed it before dinner!
Today, the smoke from all the wildfires became really noticeable, and would get thicker throughout the rest of the trip. For this reason, I took fewer photos, as many of the cool vistas were obscured by smoke.
Day 16 – Red Dirt Bridge, CO to Steamboat Springs, CO – 115 miles
We set off in the morning along the Colorado River, with a few diversions here and there. It was an enjoyable easy drive until I got a puncture just past the Radium Recreation Area. We plugged the tire and, once again, the compressor struggled to air it up. We continued a short way and met up with the motos, where Ardell noticed that the tire had a big bulge in the tread, apparently a delamination had occurred. We changed the tire, but not without a couple setbacks, including a failed Hummer H-1 scissor jack and a broken lug nut socket. The rest of the day I was a little nervous about the wheel, as we could not torque the lug nuts down to spec.
At the intersection of Highway 134, we were forced to take a second detour due to wildfire activity. We took 134 to Yampa where we had a good late lunch at the Antlers Café & Bar. The Bearpaw Bakery next door was closing for a couple days and was having a half off sale on everything! Sweet!
We continued on to Stagecoach Reservoir, where we regained the BDR, continued into Steamboat and camped at the KOA so we could shower off! A good pizza dinner at How Ya Doin Pizza topped off the evening.
Day 17 – Steamboat Springs, CO to Steamboat Springs, CO – 235 miles
The guys decided to take a rest day today. John had to work (ugh), he had a zoom call and needed wifi, and everyone was a little tired out. I took the opportunity to drive to Glenwood Springs to get a couple new front tires. I had hoped I would get one more trip out of them, but not so lucky.
I got up early and went to throw out some trash, and it was evident that a bear had made itself a midnight snack, trash everywhere. After taking to John when I got back, the bear had also visited the site next to them, but did no damage there.
It was a quick trip down to I-70 and west through Glenwood Canyon to the Springs, new tires, and back. Didn’t even get a soak at the hot springs.
Day 18 – Steamboat Springs, CO to Rawlins, WY – 150 miles
Today is the last day of the BDR. As we were packing up, we noticed that
Bill’s Jeep was leaking coolant. Bill figured out it was leaking at the heater core, so we made a trip to NAPA and he bypassed it in the parking lot. I think he can fix anything!
The day started out drizzly rainy as we made our way to the Wyoming border. At one point near the border, the route took off on a small two track that was essentially impassible for the bikes. We were discussing where to detour when a logging truck rolled up. The driver was mighty nice, and told us the best route to take, and roared off. Those guys drive fast in those big trucks!
We crossed the border, and came to an intersection where we would split up.
The others returned to Steamboat and ultimately back to Cortez and then Arizona. I continued north to Rawlins.
There I did laundry, had a good chicken fried steak at Buck’s Bar & Grill, and spent the night in a crappy motel.