Another delicious breakfast over the one burner and after scripture and prayer we were on our way. First a short ride down to the Gunnison river dam then east on US 50 through the town of Gunnison then into the Gunnison National Forest and Monarch Pass. The road up to Monarch Pass is another very twisty fun road. We stopped at the Visitor's Center at the crest of the pass and asked a young lady to take our picture for the momentous occasion. It was this very pass which had been Steve's first mountain ride 14 years ago when he and I and my favorite brother-in-law, Charlie, were here in 2001. At that time Steve was a novice rider and to say he was tentative about this pass is an understatement. Steve is now one of the fastest, most fearless rider I know. He has come along way, baby.
From the crest we headed on east down out of the mountain, then north up US285 to Buena Vista where Keith's most favorite Coffee Shop in the world is located (whose name escapes me at the moment). Something about a Brown Dog, as I recall.
We had some lunch and pie and planned our afternoon. I was leaning towards heading up to another beautiful pass I had riden on two other occasions, Independence Pass. However it was a bit of a ways away and we were trying to google road constructions on the road when all of a sudden Keith interrupts a phone conversation to say "Cottonwood Pass is a great place to go". I looked at him like he was crazy and said "what, who was talking about Cottonwood Pass". He shrugged his shoulders and went back to his phone conversation. After he hung up he brought it up again, "Yes Cottonwood Pass is great and it's just west of town here up a county road". We looked it up on the map and had to agree, it looked good on paper. And it was close and there were campsites up there. Sounded perfect and it was! A great twisty county road up beautiful country and the crest of the pass has some outstanding views. And we were able to make snow balls!
The road turned into gravel as it continued west down the mountain. Steve headed that way on his dual purpose bike. The rest of us headed back east the way we came but stopped at the campground where we found and claimed the last camp site in the place. We rested as we waited for Steve to make his way back up the mountain and find us. Then we set up camp and headed back into town for Pizza. After supper we carefully headed back up the mountain watching for deer in the dark as we found our camp site. Another great day of mountain riding!