Pedaling up the pass was not too hard, especially with colorful views to entertain me.
Ophir Pass itself was starkly gorgeous. It was a narrow slot in the mountainside, the only gap for miles. The wind jetted through the slot.
When I saw the pass and the road on the other side, I became very nervous about the Runner driving the Labmobile over the pass and along the road perched precariously on the hillside that descended it. I met him at the top, and I told him that I'd meet him at the bottom. I couldn't bear to watch him drive the precarious road.
Indeed, as I descended, I met a foreign family in a 2WD city van whose GPS had sent them over this crazy pass as the best route to Silverton. They were beyond terrified by the road - they expected a paved highway and their vehicle wasn't suited for anything more rugged than a paved road! Turning around was not an option on this narrow road. The sight of a crumpled up vehicle that had fallen off the side of the road and lay in the talus didn't help. The vehicle was hundreds of feet below me but I zoomed in for the photo.
The next day, we decided to take on a classic climb out of Telluride, Imogene Pass. We all started together with the Duo leashed because jeeps use this road.
Alas, all too soon, it was time for the runners to turn around. We knew that K couldn't handle running all the way to the Pass so the Runner generously gave me the go-ahead to try to climb it. This was where we parted ways.
Even a bit beyond that point, it was a moderate climb. I had to work hard but didn't have to go into my "red zone" to keep ascending. Soon, however, the climb steepened and the surface became a loose melange of slippery rocks. The pass was visible - it was the red section of the ridge in the middle of the photo but I started to question whether I'd make it.
Lots of snow still covered the tundra next to the road. On one hillside, backcountry skiers had recently eked out 17 turns in a couloir. I imagine that they were among the dedicated skiers who try to ski in every month of the year.
When I was within 200 vertical feet of the pass, I caught up with a front-end loader - a very odd sight on this primitive road. The driver signaled me to stop. He explained that he was about to do road work between me and the pass, and all traffic had been stopped behind me to let him do the work. I thought that he was about to pull the plug on my climb, with the pass SO close. I was wrong - the kind man said that I could climb to the pass and then he'd make space for me to pass him on the way down.
So, I earned my view from the Pass! I always love my first glimpse of the "other side" that was hidden for the whole climb.
Then, I looked back at valley that I'd climbed. Wow.
On my way down, I passed the front-end loader. He said that I needed to tell someone named "Bob" to radio him when I passed the roadblock. He couldn't work on the road until I was below that point due to the danger of boulders being dislodged and rolling down the mountain onto me. I can't thank that worker enough for letting me finish my climb and descent!
As I descended, the storm clouds moved in and rained lightly on me. After about 3000' of riding downhill, I was back in the land of red rock and green aspens.