Wednesday, May 26, 2010
We got to the town of Salida and made a pit stop for Annie at the local Walmart. Salida may be an interesting town to visit, but we had no time for that. Just a short 5 miles further west and we came upon the small town of Poncha Springs. Poncha Springs is the town I tracked on the MSN Weather website getting information on snow/rain/road conditions getting to Monarch Pass. I've been checking in with them for over a month seeing how fast spring was arriving and if the road was free of deep snow. Going West Poncha Springs is the closest town to the pass.
Once we left Poncha Springs the landscape turned more Alpine and we began a slow steady climb to the top of the pass in the Rocky Mountains. I had purchased the Mountain Directory West after reading Al's blog. He uses it when the Bayfield Bunch travel from Ontario, Canada to the Southwest in the winter. Thanks for the tip, Al. We knew exactly what to expect on the Monarch Pass after reading this directory.
Bruce took it slow. We were in no hurry. There were several curves going up, but nothing major. Actually, Hwy. 50 through the mountains in West Virginia seemed worse than this part. We began to climb higher and higher and saw old snow off the road. Finally we saw the large parking area for checking brakes before your descent down the other side. There was a small cafe and gift shop so we parked and went inside.
Outside I took a couple of quick photos. There was still a lot of snow up here. The sign on the cafe notes the elevation and the fact that we are straddling the Continental Divide. It was a crisp, clear day with a few puffy clouds. The elevation as noted is 11,312 feet and is the highest point on the entire Hwy. 50 route. The annual snowfall here is 30 feet.
Once we took a quick peek at the shop and cafe we were on our way down the mountain on the western side. This was a 6.4% grade over 9 miles. Again, Bruce took it slow and steady. Using the engine brake rather than the brake pedal most of the time helped.
Once we finished our lunch and Annie had a walk, we were on our way to the final destination of Gunnison. It was a good, safe and successful day. What more could you want?
Until next time.....so long for now!
Posted by Margie M. at 2:58 AM