Day 18 pt.2 – 11,312 feet on top of Monarch Pass

About an hour outside Salida, still on the 50 we were starting to do some serious climbs. That’s when we started noticing flashing road signs warning of snow and ice. Huh? That’s not good! As the we got higher and higher we began to realize we were on the assent to Monarch Pass. The bus got slower and slower. Early on Mark put the pedal to the floor in 4th but the bus just got slower, so we went to 3rd which worked for a while but soon that too wouldn’t hold speed so he dropped it down into 2nd as we limped up the mountain at 20mph. Every 1,000 feet or so the scenery would change dramatically until we rounded a corner about 9,000 feet up and saw snow and the cloud layer right in our path! Things got a little nervous after that. We had the emergency flashers on as visibility dropped to just a couple hundred feet or so. Snow was everywhere on the ground but thankfully non was actually falling. Then we reached the summit! 11,312 feet on top of Monarch Pass. A pretty cool accomplishment for I must say. To take every nut and bolt off a 50 year old vehicle, put it all back together and reach the top of The Rockies is something to be proud of I must admit.

It was well below freezing so I hopped out, took a quick photo of our feat, hopped back in and we headed down the mountain. We found a pace car you could say in a weighted down semi-truck that was nursing his way down as well. We just followed him all the way down in low gear where eventually the sun came back through offering us some stunning evening views for our effort. We reached the first town we came to called Gunnison just as it got dark and retired for the night.

Uhhh really? We’re going over that??

Its hard to read the sign but it says “ICY SNOW PACKED ROADS.” Not what we were looking for.

It’s cool the way the entire landscape changes every 1,500 or so feet as you make the climb up Monarch.

Around 9,500ft we hit the cloud layer and more snow.

It just got worse from there. Keep in mind foot is to the floor in 2nd gear going about 25mph.

11,312ft on top of Monarch Pass!!

On the way down the sun came out again for a brilliant sunset.

We finally got to the base of the other side, what a view!


About marksch

I'm a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll...
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