I left Norwood one day last week to see if I could get from Norwood to Telluride without going through any road construction areas. Could a driver avoid the Placerville bridgework zone and the Society Turn work zone? Well, I did. I will tell you how.
With my thermos of coffee and a full tank of gas, I avoided the highway altogether and went over to the Lone Cone Road. About five miles shy of Miramonte Reservoir, I hooked a left and made my way to Beeftrail Road. I was only about four miles east before I saw beef. I also noticed that I was no longer on pavement. I also felt very close to the 12,585 foot Lone Cone Peak. Lone Cone Peak was once an active volcano but it is dormant now. (Whereas Lone Cone Restaurant still erupts from time to time.) With traces of snow in its high crater, the peak seemed to be mocking me, “Puny human. Why don’t you go back to the highway and wait at the road construction like a normal person?” But I kept moving east on Beeftrail Road.
Here it got tricky. According to Google Maps there should have been a turn to the south on a road called 50G. I saw a road but the sign said 611. My GPS said the same road was called 46m. I kept going in search of 50G. I wound all the way over on Specie Mesa and saw the Peninsula development sign. I knew I had gone too far. As I turned around I could tell my GPS was annoyed with me. I went back to the road marked 611 and turned south on it. I got out a Forest Service map that Jake Souther had loaned me. It was then I noticed that the map was from 1951. The road I was on might not have been there then. Even the trees might not have been born yet.
A short time later a nice lady sitting in a cattle truck told me that the road I was on would take me to Woods Lake – good news. She said it was only about 10 miles away. She turned out to be a mere 17 miles off.
The next 10 miles were the hardest stretch. The road was rough and steep. At the highest point the elevation was 10,412. In this remote location was the answer to the age-old question: If it is fall in the forest and there is no one there to take a picture, do the leaves still change color? Yes, they do.
Finally I came to Fall Creek Road one mile north of Woods Lake. From there I got up on Wilson Mesa and kept going east. On Wilson Mesa I saw a friend of mine named Tom working for the San Miguel Power Association. He gave me some discouraging news. He said he thought the Colorado Department of Transportation guys were striping lines east of the Silver Pick turn. Still I decided to take a chance.
As I came near to the intersection of Silver Pick Road and Highway 145, I saw the CDOT guys doing something on the highway. Were they stopping people? I hadn’t driven four hours across dirt roads to stop for some flagger now. I could turn around, go up to Silver Pick Basin and try to find a way over to Illium. Trouble is, it is mostly private property and no trespassing up there. I crept up to the highway and saw what the road gang was up to. Unbelievably, they were picking up a few remaining cones and leaving! There were no flaggers on my side going east and no caution signs. There was a line of cars going west as though they had just been let through. I must have missed the construction work by minutes. That means the few minutes I spent talking to Tom was what saved me. Well, I shot up the highway for about two miles, but before going up Keystone I turned left and went up Deep Creek road across from the county maintenance shop.
Deep Creek Road became Last Dollar Road and soon the airport was on my right. From there I could get on a plane and go anywhere in the world. But, like many folks who could go anywhere in the world, I headed for Telluride. I passed Aldasaro and got on the highway about 100 yards east of the work being done on Society Turn. I didn’t even want to look in the rearview mirror for fear I might see construction workers chasing me with their stop signs. What if they somehow got word of my epic journey and were determined to stymie me at my moment of triumph? As I drove the last couple of miles into downtown Telluride I realized it was the first time all day that I had had to look at another car’s rear bumper.
Total elapsed time: 4 hours, 33 minutes
Total miles: 79
Minutes spent waiting for road construction: 0