The Dirt Tail of the Dragon

After coffee and a work meeting, I hopped on the bike to scout a bit farther down the road, looking for any better available campsites than the tiny one I was in. I was in Site 1, the first one I found, where I decided to park for at least one night. Site 2 was beautiful, with lots of space for my van and trailer, and a hill with rocks and trees I could’ve parked among. The only problem was that I didn’t have a clear shot of the north sky for Starlink. So I moved on.

Site 3, while it didn’t have the cool rock formations, did have a ton of room, plenty for me to turn the van and trailer around without even backing up. It was far back from the road, which I wanted because I knew there would be a lot of traffic over the long weekend. There were more spots up the road, but this was a good one, so I decided to move. In fact, I decided to leave my bike there, walk back to the van (just over half a mile away), pack up, and move, just to make sure no one else took the spot. This plan worked perfectly. I was right to be concerned about spots getting taken. Site 2 had already been occupied between my brief visit and my walk past it to get back to the van.

After setting up and waiting out the midday sun, I hopped on the bike again to see what was farther down the road. This turned out to be one of the most fun dirt roads I’ve ever ridden. There are plenty of curves, hills, and hairpin turns through the stunning rugged scenery. It reminds me of the Tail of the Dragon, except on dirt, it’s so technical. The surface is a little loose, and I can feel my still safe but not new back tire slipping from time to time, especially when I’m accelerating. Even my underpowered KLR can do a power slide on this surface, I guess. So far I’ve ridden all the way to Goose Creek Campground, past a total of 14 (not 12, as FreeRoam said) dispersed campsites along the way. The road continued, but it was getting dark, and I didn’t want to be out after sunset, so I rode back to camp.

Jenn says that Colorado sunsets last about five hours. She may be exaggerating, but not by much. There’s a long time between when the sun dips behind the mountain, and when it actually sets over the distant horizon I can’t see. The result is some amazing views like these.

This morning I rode back the other direction, past Site 1 all the way to the paved road where I came in. I took a detour by Cheesman Lake and found vault toilets at the trailhead. That’s good to know so that I don’t have to defile my onboard facilities. After that, I took the road that forked off the main drag next to Site 1 toward Wigwam Trailhead. That, too, was a fun ride, with a number of campsites along the way as well. By Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, all of them were taken, of course.

I didn’t expect to roll up on this. Nobody was there, so I have no idea if anyone got hurt or not. The driver’s airbag went off, so it was a pretty hard hit — and they must’ve been going pretty fast for it to go off. I saw no blood anywhere, which was good. The license plates were gone, but I took note of the car’s VIN and its exact location. My guess is that this car was stolen, taken for a joyride, crashed, and abandoned out here.

I had no cell service, so when I got back to camp I turned on Starlink and did some research, hoping to report this to the Forest Service. Their websites are terrible and almost useless, but I did find the local district office phone number — and that they’re closed outside of weekday business hours. 911 is for emergencies, and this isn’t an emergency, nor is it in any town’s police jurisdiction. I guess I’ll have to wait until Tuesday to call it in unless I just happen to see a ranger first.

Lister seems to like it here. So do I. I just cut a ride short because I saw ominous rain clouds approaching from the direction I wanted to go. It was the right choice, as thick raindrops started to fall the moment I got my riding gear put away, followed by a loud thunderclap. I waited out the storm in the van and wrote this. Tomorrow I’ll probably go explore past Goose Creek Campground, since there’s no rain in the forecast and I can’t resist riding the dirt Tail of the Dragon again while I’m here all weekend.

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