Day Six – Poughkeepsie [4th Day of Riding]

At the Silver Nugget we ran into the same two riders we had met the day before.  We told them we were headed up Poughkeepsie Gulch and they were skeptical to say the least.  They had ridden down Poughkeepsie a couple of days earlier in the rain had some horror stories to tell and to make certain we knew they did not think we would make it.  Mike had made it up in 1999 but I was not able, so there was even some skepticism on our side as well, if no one other than me.  I was the one who was going to have to make it up on the 650.  So, we headed to Poughkeepsie and it was challenging just getting to the challenging part.  There was a creek bed that had swollen from the rain that provided us, me in particular, with some difficulty.  The trail doesn't look all that tough.  It's about 300 yards in length a third of which is fairly steep, but not anything steeper than we had already been on, with large rocks in the path that are loose.  On either side of the path a creek bed and large ruts preventing anyone from bypassing the loose rocks in the path.  Mike went first and started up the path slowly but surely.  I waited a few minutes before it was my turn.  I got a good run and made it a few hundred feet before I started slipping on the loose shale rock and as I did so dug a hole deeper and deeper until I was stopped.  Seven years ago I tried on a KLX650 with tires that were not full knobbies and everyone attributed my failure to the tires.  Well this year I was on a similar bike with full knobbies and made, as best I can recall, to the same spot.  I'm not saying it can't be done on a 650 but it is well beyond my capabilities.  The bike is just too darn heavy and it just digs a hole.  So, after I picked up the bike I was done.  Needless to say, picking up a 300 lb bike by yourself at 10,000 feet of altitude takes a lot out of you.  Steve said the heck with it and we waited to see if we could catch a glimpse of Mike and determine his progress.  Steve eventually went up to help and turned him around having not made it all the way up.  I believe Mike could have made it, but his incentive must been diminished when he realized we weren't going to make it.  We went back down Poughkeepsie to the Alpine loop and south on US550 and went back over Corkscrew Gulch.  We had decided to go around and back to the top of Poughkeepsie.  Once at the top of Corkscrew we headed over Hurricane Pass and down by Lake Como and began looking for the top of Poughkeepsie.  Neither Steve or I had been here so we followed Mike who was trying to remember some landmarks from 1999.  We went down some very steep cliffs to the point where we were wondering if we were at "The Wall" at the top of Poughkeepsie.  Finally we came upon it and there was little doubt left about it.  We were all thinking what we would have done if we had made it up the trail only to encounter "The Wall".  We sat there for awhile before going back the way we had come which was no easy task.  We got to back to Lake Como and headed over California Pass and down into California Gulch before going through Placer and Picayne Gulches.  California Pass is one of the highest at 12,900 feet.  The California trail is an easy one but does provide good scenery.  We were going down the Picayne Gulch trail towards C110 so as we approached what would be considered the trail head, the grade was very steep and we thought it would be fun going the other way, as we made a mental note for future reference.  We made it down into Silverton and stopped at the Silverton Brewery for lunch.  It was already getting long in the day when we left Silverton but there was no rain in sight and plenty of daylight left so we decided to try Brown's Gulch.  We had done this before as well and knew it was not difficult but we also knew it provided some nice scenery particularly of the east side of Black Bear pass.  It was what we remembered and we stopped along the way to soak up the views.  Back on US550 and close to Ouray I decided at the last minute to run up the campground area called the amphitheater to see what that was all about.  As we rode up the trail we found significantly more than we had anticipated which was fantastic.  We had to work a little bit to get to the top and when we got there the name that had been chosen became evidently clear.  The park area is surrounded by 10-12,000 foot peaks in a semi-circle creating an amphitheatre feel.  We had a treat for dinner, we went to 736 Main Street where a local entrepreneur had opened a Japanese style restaurant.  The sushi we had was surprisingly good.  The place was packed so we just ate right at the bar.   It never ceases to amaze how easy it is these days to eat sushi almost anyplace in the U.S.