On to the Colorado River

Day 25: Blacktail Creek Campground to Blue River Campground (74.3 miles, 6,436ft)

We woke up to a cold frosty morning at the Blacktail Creek Campground—not surprising as we’d camped around 9,000ft. After the normal couple of hours of tear down, pack up, and breakfast, the sun was already high in the sky and feeling significantly warmer we set off.

The first 15 miles to Radium were simply amazing. We followed a narrow rolling trail through forest, tight valleys, and the occasional open pasture as we wound our way toward the Colorado River. For the first time in our trip, we were riding along trails with sheer drop-offs, and we took the descents with care.

On the way to Radium

Smoke-covered ridges in the distance

After descending some 2,200 feet to the Colorado River at Radium (6,800 feet above sea level), we crossed the river and turned back, climbing toward the Gore Canyon. Layers upon layers of mountain ridges surrounded us—many of which were barely perceptible on the horizon because of the lingering smoke—and we wondered what the views might have been like on a clearer day.

Approaching Radium and the Colorado River

Around 10 miles later we were back at 8300 feet as we crossed a watershed divide and descended back to the Colorado River and Colorado Highway 9. We jogged north on highway 9—at this point also the Trans-America bike route—and quickly turned right onto the first county road we reached, just short of crossing the Colorado River and entering the town of Kremling. From there we continued upstream, traveling roughly east with the Colorado on our left.

Soon we angled south, following a tributary of the Colorado upstream past a reservoir. Just past the reservoir, we were able to refill our water bottles at the house of a kindly resident of the area; and after the quick break we were off again.

Matt fixing a flat.

The miles passed quickly—with the exception of my first flat of the trip, an internal tube failure caused by subpar rim-tape on my replaced rim—as we continued along fast, smooth county roads.

Slowly, we ascended the river valley, rolling up and down at times, before reaching asphalt surface at the base of the final ascent to Ute Pass.

East Branch Reservoir, halfway up to Ute Pass

A few more miles of gradual grade and we reached the top of the pass at 9,524 feet.

After a speedy descent back to Colorado Highway 9, we turned south and followed the Blue River upstream for around 5 miles to the Blue River Campground, one of the nicest national forest campgrounds, we’d stayed at yet, pleasantly situated along the rushing Blue River.

David’s front shifter cable met its end a few miles from camp. Thankfully it was all downhill.

After an uneventful supper, we realized that we had a stowaway in the car—a field mouse—and we spent much of the rest of the evening (unsuccessfully) trying to chase it out of the car. (Some mouse traps brought two mice to an inglorious end later in the trip.)