PostedSep-12-2006 09:52 PM
Altitude8,218.49 ft.
HeadlineTelluride to Stony Pass
Entry September 12

Agreeing to meet Mark in town after picking up groceries in Mountain Village and taking the gondola down, we make a sandwich in the parking lot and head back to Baked In Telluride. Sitting down for another day of updates and unsure of how long they'll take, Mark and Hanley explore the town on their own. When Mark comes back he's decided to head on to Mount Sneffels after realizing that the longer the update process the faster of a hurry we'll be in to complete the next leg of the trip. While uploading photos and syncing the route map with photo galleries and journals Hanley begins conversing up a storm out front taking with the all too familiar locals on off-roading and the truck. During the process another 80 series Land Cruiser does a double take and rounds back to check out the rig. Hanley meets Mike who is actually an avid member of having seen posts of the truck before we left. Either big internet or small world the two hit it off discussing the rig and the route. In addition Mike is staying at his family's condo in T-ride and has taken the mountain town summer getaway everyone has always dreamed of. Inviting us back to his place to hang out and continue with updates we hang out but have issues accessing his wireless.

Mike was himself part of the crew which had previously widened Black Bear when it had become too narrow and dangerous to attempt passing. As a byproduct of this discussion we're also realizing we're not quite as hardcore as we originally thought. Hehe. Every few years when its time to bulldoze the trail wider once again the local construction crew draws straws to see which of them will drive the bull dozer. Imagine the need for widening a trail to be suitable for off-road trucks and you can only guess what it must be like piloting a bulldozer with what must be close to twice as wide. As Mike explains, they keep the doors open. Having an actual video on his Mac, cough cough, of the process, Mike shows where the whole side of the canyon has been blocked off while they push boulders the size of VW's off the few thousand foot cliffs. When one of those boulders does clip the wall on its way down taking out lower sections of the road and shattering trees, fountains of rock shrapnel shoot out hundreds of feet raining on the canyon below. Wish we could have been there to see that one in person.

With a few more updates left to be uploaded we return to the now closed bake house and drive around town looking for wi-fi. Finding someone who actually titled their wi-fi connection with their street address, which we both get a laugh out of, we creep up all shady-style in front of their house before we realize the connection is slow. Figuring we'll make better of our time to pass out and finish first thing in the morning, Hanley recalls meeting the local Catholic Church's Pastor outside the bake house earlier that day who'd mentioned we could park to sleep in their parking lot anytime. Not sure if he was serious on us taking up the offer but more anxious than ever to find out we track down the church in town and pull in. Unfortunetely the church's motion sensor lights come on lighting the parking lot like a Christmas tree and we decide on the adjoining street instead.

Growing up in Indiana with only your imagination to create entertainment we both know the sound of a police radio when we hear one. A few moments later our suspicions are confirmed with the wrapping on the side of the tent and order to "wake up in there!". With a few precious seconds to compose ourselves we flip open the tent to see the fuzz handing us a "warning" (...only in Telluride would we escape a citation) for illegally sleeping or holding residence within town limits. We apologize and comply as he turns away to head on when he turns around and walks back saying "hey that's a pretty cool tent you guys have got there, where'd you find that?".

With a short stint at the bake house we're off and unobstructed heading back over Ophir Pass, through Silverton, to Crede, and onwards to Stony Pass. Stopping in the town of Crede, not having much evolution from the wild west days, we search for gas as we drive through town with no luck finally doubling back to ask the Sheriff who we'd seen chatting in front of the station. Approaching the truck with a cock-eyed look on his face this guy looked to be about 70 sporting the cowboy hat and full attire. With a serious look on his face the Sheriff says they don't sell gas in Crede. A pause of confusion from us and the stern face disappears chuckling to himself pointing us down to stops and a left at the "crick" (aka: creek). Now leaning into the vehicle he opens the Panasonic Toughbook while simultaneously asking "what have you fellas got here?". Somewhat uncomfortably giving the run down on what we're doing he pulls back and retrieves a brittle dollar bill from his pocket and puts it in my hand. Thinking he's making a donation he keeps hold of my hand with the bill in it and tells us to bring him back a Pepsi from the gas station. Not waiting around for a response he walks back to the building turning around once more remembering "and don't you run off now ya' here, ...cause I'll find ya". This was followed by an identical chuckle from before and with that he sat back down.

With a moments pause confirming for both of us that this wasn't a joke we looked to each other in disbelief and with that slowly pulled forward. After a few jokes of yelling "thanks for the donation" from the window before tearing out, we decided to play along (partially because something about his aura made us both believe he really could find us out here). At the gas station I can't help myself and have to inquire if this is a regular occurrence. The older attendant (and surely the owner) says no but sighs and shakes his head obviously knowing exactly who I'm referring to. He laughs to himself and says "welcome to Crede!". After a PB&J in the parking lot we return, Pepsi in hand, to see that the Sheriff must have stepped inside with his previous company still finishing her cigarette. When asked if she's seen the Sheriff she looks inside and returns saying he's taking a call at the moment. "Do you want to leave a message or would you like to wait?" "Neither", I reply rolling my head back. Could you tell him his Pepsi is here? She laughs asking if he'd talked us into getting him a soda and asks us to hold on one moment while she runs back inside. A few seconds later Andy Griffith himself steps back and handing him his drink he takes a moment to stare at it, pops it open taking a sip, then looks at us a grins saying "hey you boys done alright!".

Suddenly everything seems to have changed. Now he wants to know where we're going and what the whole thing is about. Its like we passed the entry exam and after asking about the town and their underground fire station (don't ask me) he tells us if we come back he'll take us all over and give us a tour. Saying we might be back in town next week he replies "well if its Monday of next week you're in luck, I'm off in the afternoon!". We chat awhile longer asking to get his photo upon where he suddenly grows stern asking what we'd plan to do with it saying we could probably fax it to New York within an hour. Sigh. Finally after explaining he is retiring later this year he agrees and despite his reluctance now asks if we'll send him a copy. Hanley begs to have his photo taken in the jail cell but backs off when the Sheriff makes the condition it locks behind him on the way in. This guy is too much.

Driving out we head for Stony Pass which turns out to be much longer and rougher than we'd expected. To make up the difference we find the Metallica Live with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra CD and rolling down the windows crank our way up the Pass. Speeding up and normally turning down the radio if we see someone in the distance we haven't noticed the two trucks of older couples parked at its peak who've had a view of us ripping around the turns the whole way up. With the combined audio and visual the look on their faces when we went by was pretty priceless and given the situation we had no choice but to flip them the devil horns rocker hand sign as we burned by with the Metallica still blazing.

Crossing countless creeks along the way while bordering the Rio Grande to our right we round a corner to find a flipped Saturn on the side of the trail (at this point more of a dirt road) and two locals sweating a little bit while scratching their heads. Its probably around 1 PM and with a pickup stopping while coming from the other direction and glass all over the road, you can tell this happened just moment before. Sizing up the situation (mandatory when you're in the absolute middle of nowhere) and deciding if we want to recover these guys we slow to a near stop giving the pair a blank stare while one nervously asks "hey fellas, how much does that winch of yours there pull?". "9000 lbs or 18,000 with the snatch block (though Winchline's is good for 20,000)". Oh what the hell. Jumping out its easy to realize why these guys are in such a hurry after getting a whiff of the scene. We grab the snatch block and Tree Saver wrapping them around a Birchwood tree connecting the D-Ring to the underside of the truck. When others pulled up they jumped out to help pushing on the car while Hanley backed up the truck pulling her over right side up. These guys looked at us like we were saints. You've got to love the wallet and revolver set aside on the rock next to the truck while this whole ordeal is going on.

Pulling off the Winchline with fluids leaking out of the car everyone somewhat nervously backs up when they get the idea these guys are thinking of firing up the car. Having set up the video camera while this was taking place we back away when a giant plume of white smoke bellows from the Saturn as she fires up and sputters back onto the road. These days couldn't get any crazier. The two do everything but hug us asking for our card and grabbing brochures from the backseat for their mother's fishing resort. Saying we're welcome anytime and that they'll take care of us. Han responds laughing that maybe we'll have to come and party sometime to which they replied "oh boy we'll party alright, oh yea (insert disturbing chuckle) we'll party you betcha'".

Heading on we hit another trail closure with our only way around being a few hours of back tracking and we start the process. Though this is a known variable it's beyond frustrating none the less. We start the process driving into New Mexico before crashing for the night. What a day.