Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wolf Creek Pass and The Rio Grande River

Location: Goodnight's Lonesome Dove RV Park (el 8,200 ft); South Fork, Colorado

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
click pictures to enlarge

Current route. Campground number 9

I pulled out of Monticello kind of early and the landscape quickly changed as I entered Colorado. It was remarkable how quickly it changed to more agricultural use. It made me wonder if plowing and planting the open sage brush land just across the border in Utah would create the same landscape. 

Fresh plowed fields in Colorado. A dramatic change from Utah.

After about 50 miles or so I could see the snow capped Rockies of Colorado. They looked nice.

Storms on the mountains
Wolf Creek Pass was still ahead of me and the storms were beginning to worry me. Dry roads would be much better when heading up and down such a high pass. Wolf Creek Pass and I have a history. I crossed it back in May of 2015 the day after a snow. You can read about that here,,, http://gozatravels.blogspot.com/2015/05/moving-day-thru-snowy-wolf-creek-pass.html

This time it looked like rain and I was hoping it would stay rain because at the high elevation of the summit, anything can happen. Well, sure enough, the rain changed over to big drops of wintry mix. Just as if someone was throwing big handfuls of a snow cones on the windshield. Freedom and Liberty handled the climb just as they did two years ago. A long steady 9 mile pull in 2nd gear. I pulled over at the summit and was glad to see the rain slowing up some. The downgrade is always the "butt puckering" part of the passes. Going up you worry about transmission, radiator and oil overheating. I monitored all of those on Freedom and even after such a long pull in 2nd gear, all were in the normal range as if she was running on flat ground. I sure was glad I opted for the upgrades when buying Freedom. If you have problems going up, you can just stop on the shoulder and wait. Going down is totally different. You have to make sure your in a low enough gear to help slow you down, but not so low that it rev's the engine up too much. Even in a low gear, with such a long (8 mile) downslope, Freedom was continually increasing her speed. The tow/haul mode in Freedom helps a lot by staying in the lower gears. Over the 8 miles down, I probably only used the brakes 4 or 5 times. You never ride the brakes or you will burn them up and be really screwed by not being able to stop. I would put on the brakes and slow Freedom way down, then let her start freewheeling again until the next braking. In between braking, they would cool off in preparation for the next time. Everything worked out just fine. I was proud of both Freedom and Liberty (yep, I'm just a little touched). 

A little climbing, but not yet to the beginning of the pass. Still hoping the rain holds off.

Ut oh, rain starting, road is wet

Climbing the pass but on dry pavement, maybe it was just a passing shower
Wrong again. Once it started, it was heavy then changed over to wintry mix. The temperature dropped 25 degrees. 
Alright, once I broke over the summit and started going down, the pavement was dry. Maybe the rain was gone.

I couldn't outguess the rain. You see how much is on the road. If you weren't paying attention you could easily start "slip sliding away". Extra credit for those who remember the song and who sang it. Heck, it is from 40 years ago. Since it came into my mind, I'm playing it on youtube as I type this caption. Memories.
Just 13 miles past the summit of Wolf Creek Pass was the campground. It is Goodnight's Lonesome Dove RV Park. The cabins are all named after characters from that show. It isn't very crowded at all and that telephone phone just behind Liberty has the WiFi antenna. I'm saving some phone data for sure. 

After getting set up I drove up the canyon leading to the headwaters of the Rio Grande. This is wide valley with the river running through it. Who ever originally found and claimed this valley was very lucky. 

I didn't make it to the headwaters due to darkness. This is one of crossings. It a little like when I went to Lake Itasca to see the beginning of the Mississippi River. The water in this picture makes its way all the way to the Gulf of Mexico on the border of Texas/Mexico. It was cold coming out of the mountains. 

All is well when you see the reminder of God's Promise that he places in the sky every now and then. 
Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be heading to a small town called La Junta. It is still in Colorado but just a little ways out into the Great Plains. It will be the second time I've been to this town with the last time being in 1978. There isn't much of interest in the town except for some old memories. I may write about them just to document them for the grandkids.

Just as I've done a couple of times before, I'll be putting the Rockies in my side mirror tomorrow. It is always a bittersweet time because I never know if I'll see them again. They are magical and magnificent. 

Oh well, 
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. I was wondering how your truck preformed in the mountains. I see its a gaser and I have the same thing with a 4:30 rearend pulling a Montana FW.

    1. Hello John,,, it has performed very well. Wolf Creek is one of the biggest hills it has pulled and did so without worry. It took her 2nd great to climb it but did it at 30 mph. Nothing overheated. My trailer tops out at 9,000 pounds and my truck is rated to tow 12,000 pounds. If you have any other questions you can email me at,,,, darrell_g42@hotmail.com.

  2. C.W. McCall - Me and Earl were haulin chickens on a flatbed out of Wiggins...
    Sad thing is I did not even have to look that up.