September 16, 2009

Day 3 Tour Map

Total distance traveled - 41 miles

GPS data recorded on this day can be seen at Garmin Connect

When we first arrived at North Michigan Reservoir last night, we didn't find any potable water at the first campsites. Not until after dark, while sitting beside our campfire, did we learn where to find drinking water. Up until then, we were using a portable water filter pump to filter water out of the reservoir for cooking and drinking. Only after speaking with two men, who were looking for the campground's water well, did we begin to realize that there might be potable water within the campground. Without knowledge of the well's location, we told the men that we didn't know where they could find drinking water. Shortly after the men drove off to look for the pump, they returned with good news that the pump was located near the boat dock, about a half mile from our campsite. We were relieved, after learning of the well's location because we would not have to take extra time to filter water for tomorrow's bike ride.

Our third day started before the sun peaked over the mountains peaks, above the lake. After breaking camp we rode our bikes up the road, towards the well, and filled our water bottles before departing on our journey over Willow Creek Pass to the next campground. Today's journey involved getting back on HWY 14 for a few short miles of pavement before turning onto a very scenic 14 miles of gravel road that leads to Rand. At Rand we turned south on CO HWY 125, which crosses over Willow Creek Pass (el. 9683 ft.), and continues south to Sawmill Gulch Campground.

The next two pictures were taken near the boat ramp at North Michigan Reservoir, where we filled our water bottles.

North Michigan Reservoir

North Michigan Reservoir

Highway 14 for a couple miles

This picture, expertly taken by Doug while he rode his bike behind Dale on HWY 14, before coming to the turnoff to Rand.

Gravel road headed to Rand

The picture, above, was taken after stopping to strip off some warm clothes. Doug, as seen here, is pulling the BOB trailer with his touring bike, over the gravel road that leads to Rand, otherwise known as the "Rand Cutoff." By taking the Rand Cutoff, Jackson County Road 27, we would not have to travel an extra twenty miles north to Walden, and then save another twenty miles traveling south to Rand.

In the next series of picture, you'll see some of the beautiful scenery we experienced while riding the "Rand Cutoff". Possibly some of the most beautiful the scenery in this part of North Park (Colorado basin), can be seen on this gravel road.

Sights along the Rand Cutoff

Sights along the Rand Cutoff

Sights along the Rand Cutoff

Sights along the Rand Cutoff

Sights along the Rand Cutoff

Sights along the Rand Cutoff

We arrived at Rand at a little after one o'clock in the afternoon, and ate lunch along the roadside, near the junction of CR27 and CO HWY 125. At this point we left the gravel road behind, and headed south on the blacktop highway that would take us over Willow Creek Pass.

South toward Willow Creek Pass

Willow Creek Pass

The ascent to the pass was not difficult because the elevation gain from Rand to the summit of Willow Creek Pass (el. 9683 ft.) is only 1054 feet. In other words, the blacktop from Rand ascends over a series of rolling hills with the steepest grades that don't exceed 6 percent. Additionally, the distance from Rand to the summit of the pass is only about ten miles. Doug mentioned that climbing Willow Creek Pass was much easier than climbing over Cameron pass. It could be said that it must have been easy for Doug because he was seen trying to ride his touring bike and BOB trailer off-road and into the ditch, near the summit of the pass. Fortunately for Doug, it was a short off-road adventure that didn't meet with only a minor scrape to an elbow.

Doug, as seen in the picture above, is pointing out the direction towards the next campground, where we would stay the night. Since this is the first time, on this trip, we had crossed the Continental Divide, it is important to note that we would roll down from the top of the pass in same the direction as the Pacific watershed.

Impressive Rock Outcropping

While on the descent, after reaching the summit, we stopped to take pictures of this impressive rock outcropping (an igneous dike), an abrupt natural wall, which extends from the base all the way up to peak of the mountain.

More pictures and tour information can be seen on the next page, Day-4.

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