Monday, April 28, 2014

Conquering Wolf Creek Pass, Day 7

wolf creek pass colorado
Wolf Creek Pass, US-160, Colorado, April 27, 2014
Some days, everything just falls into place. Just when Sash and I thought that we were going to be holed up in Pagosa Springs for 2 or 3 nights, waiting for the ice to melt on Wolf Creek Pass, we got a break.

She and I were sitting in Pagosa Brewing yesterday, having lunch with Jared and Taryn, the two who helped us down from the pass the day before when Sash spun out of control on the icy road, when we got word from Colorado DOT that the road was now clear up and down Wolf Creek Pass.

We had already paid for second night's stay at the hotel we were at, because the weather reports looked grim for that day and evening. But the sun happened to come out for a bit and warmed things up a little. So when Jared called Colorado DOT, and learned that someone had just checked the entire length of the pass and found it clear, Sash and I looked at each other.

"I think this is our window of opportunity", I said to her. "I know we already paid for the room tonight, but maybe we ought to just go now."

We were looking at temperatures of 25 degrees F (-3.9 C) at the top of Wolf Creek Pass, but at least the roads were clear.

So, Sash and I packed up our stuff.

The owner/manager of Hillside Inn, the hotel we were at, was kind enough to refund our money for the night's stay we were giving up, understanding our predicament.

Jared offered to ride Sash's bike, just in case there was some ice up there, and to save her from having to ride in such frigid temperatures. Sash rode in the pickup truck with Taryn, following us behind.

The scenery heading up US-160 towards Wolf Creek Pass was just amazing! Pine trees laden with wintery-white icicles with blankets of pristine white on either side of the road. But the road was clear, quite the opposite just a day earlier.  I looked at the temperature gauge on my Honda ST1300, and it read 27 degrees F.

I was pretty well bundled up, and otherwise didn't encounter any discomfort from the cold.

The eastern side of Wolf Creek Pass is a little more steep, and I found places where the water on the road was slick in the sub-freezing temperatures.

Jared, however, rode that V-Star 650 like a boss. On most days, he rides a Honda VFR 800 up and down Wolf Creek Pass, taking a few runs each time. He already knew the turns and was able to lean Sash's bike pretty hard into the curves.

When we got to the other side, we pulled over, and Sash mounted up to ride it the rest of the way. We said our goodbyes to Jared and Taryn, thanked them up and down, and exchanged Facebook friend-requests.

Sash and I rode further on to South Fork where we stopped for gas at the Whistle Pig Conoco.  Sash's hands were freezing despite wearing rain gloves with Freeze-Out liners.  The gloves were still damp from the day before.  The girl inside the gas station offered to help by putting them in their pizza oven to dry.  That seemed to do the trick

Sash and I rode as far as Monte Vista, a small agricultural town along the US-160. We pulled into the Best Western Movie Manor Inn, a hotel that sits in the back of a drive-in movie theater. The windows in our room give us a full view of the movie, and there's even audio piped into our room.  We watched Captain America.

So, we got a break in the weather, Jared and Taryn happened to be available again to help us over Wolf Creek Pass.  The hotel manager refunded our money for the night's stay.  The girl at Conoco dried Sash's gloves, and we found a really cool hotel that comes with a free drive-in movie.

And it's a good thing we took the opportunity to ride over the pass, because more snow was on the way.

Tomorrow, Day 8 of our 3-week road trip, we head into Denver via US-285.

pagosa springs motorcycles
Jared: "Hey Steve, you see those icy cold mountains in the distance?" Steve: "Yeah?"  Jared: "We're gonna ride up there!"  Steve:  "Fuck."
wolf creek pass us-160
US-160 heading towards Wolf Creek Pass
wolf creek pass
Beginning the ascent to Wolf Creek Pass
wolf creek pass colorado
Winter Wonderland up on Wolf Creek Pass
honda st1300 temperature gauge
Air temperature read 28 degrees F on my Honda ST1300, but it eventually got down to 27.
wolf creek pass colorado
Steve:  "So that was Wolf Creek Pass?"  Jared:  "No, we still have to go down the other side!"
wolf creek pass
Jared and I riding down the east side of Wolf Creek Pass
US-160 colorado
Once on the other side of Wolf Creek Pass, it's smooth sailing (but still really, really cold).
best western movie manor inn
Sash and I laying in bed, watching the Drive-In movie from our hotel room, with audio piped into our room.


  1. Glad to hear u have gotten through that leg of the journey safely. Is it any more comfortable riding now that you are at a lower elevation?

    1. I suppose it's more comfortable considering it was 27 degrees F on Wolf Creek Pass, and 45 degrees F where we are now.

    2. 45 degrees, that's about 7 in Canadian...still quite chilly.

  2. Hooray for you making it over the pass, and another hooray for your new found friends assisting once again. it is nice when things work out after an unexpected set back.

  3. get the CDOT app for your smartphone


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)