Day Three - Monday - 136 miles

We had our breakfast strategy down now. We made certain to hit the showers, and be ready 10 minutes before the kitchen opened so we could be first in line. This was going to be Steve’s last day of riding, and John had left the night before. Steve would drive to Denver this evening to catch an early morning flight on Tuesday. Our target for today would take us into some new areas for us. I had researched some trail systems and decided to try Stony Pass. This turned out to be a really nice system and I was happy to have gone this way. We started by going down US 550 to Silverton and caught county road 2 to Howardsville where we turned on CR3 and headed up towards Stony Pass. We passed near Old Hundred Mine, but we were still on gravel road. At the first hairpin turn it started getting good. We started right around 10k feet and quickly climbed to over 12.5k by the time we reached the summit. We stopped on top for some pictures and to soak in the scenery. It was nice seeing something new and being somewhere we hadn’t been before. We started back down the opposite side and came upon the Pole Creek crossing. I was the first across, and without the benefit of seeing someone else’s line I hit a huge deep pool, and were it not for my very tall bike I would have been in real trouble, but the DRZ chugged through it and brought me to other side unscathed. The others obviously took a different line and all made it although with varying degrees of grace. After Pole Creek we hit the woods, and found ourselves in a section going downhill that I thought was a little rough with large rock ledges to transverse. Here my tall steed made things more challenging in that I could not paddle at all, I had to keep my feet on the pegs and really use my clutch and brakes. It would have been far more fun going up, but that is hindsight. After that rough spot we came upon more gravel and rode along the Rio Grande Reservoir. This road was not much fun for us, but the sights were nice. We hit CO 149 for a short time before turning right on FR510. This was a dirt and gravel road that wound us up to the back side of North Creek Clear Falls. There was some construction in the parking lot there requiring a lengthy walk, and since Steve and I had been there before no one seemed to have much heart for it, so we continued on. Back on CO 149 we again took a by-pass on the way to Lake City where we turned into a camping area that without research on Google Earth we would have never have taken, but there was a trail system that would lead us down to Lake City the back way. It was pretty good going until we got close to the summit of Jarosa Mesa. The trail had thousands of decent sized rocks that beat the heck out of us and our bikes. It was not some much challenging as it was annoying. Even in hindsight it was better than pavement. We rode down the Mesa and caught back up with CO 149 one last time before going into Lake City. Once there we stopped at The SmoQue Shack for lunch. Some of the best pulled pork west of the Mississippi in my opinion, but maybe it was because I was so hungry. After our lunch and gas stop we headed towards Engineer Pass. We were unfazed by the events of two days earlier and approached the Pass with gusto. Unfortunately we were riding into a severe weather system that would see us ride through a torrential downpour and hail on Engineer Pass. Steve and I stopped to don our rain-gear but the others rode on. We stopped after we were already wet which probably wasn’t the smartest thing, but I’m glad we did. Needless to say the ride back to camp was not very fun. It was ridiculously cold and dangerous riding in that condition, but you have to ride through it. What made matters worse was the hot tub at the campground was out of order when we retuned.