Friday, January 24, 2014

Canyons Update - Lefthand Canyon

On January 20, Pat and I were returning from Estes Park and decided to check out Lefthand Canyon.

Signs in Estes Park advise motorists to take US-34 or Hwy. 7 (St. Vrain Canyon), as US-36 now has remedial roadwork in three places, after last fall's rapid repair and reopening.

Hwy. 7 seems to be holding up fairly well:

In contrast to the CDOT signs on their canyon highways warning cyclists, "Bicycles not recommended.  Ride at your own risk,"  Boulder County simply warns all road users to prepare to handle certain situations.

While Lefthand Drive is open, many segments - some longer, some shorter - are gravel.  (This still represents a huge effort by road construction crews!)

Where did all that displaced and faulted asphalt go?  Much of it was carted off to asphalt mountains such as this one near the junction of James Canyon.

In the curves of Lefthand Creek, there's hardly better evidence of how much roadway the flood ate away than to see the centerline heading straight for the new edge of the road (sans shoulder).

There are a lot of these gravel segments.  Motorists and cyclists alike need to keep eyes open for what they may encounter around every curve.

Lots of roadwork is proceeding.  Here, giant boulders ("the size of an SUV") are being loaded by this crane into a truck.

A good view of the "scouring" effect of the flood waters.

All in all, lower Lefthand Canyon at present has the sense of those backcountry dirt roads in the mountains.

And James Canyon remains open only to residents, of course.

We saw some "high-performance"-looking cyclists in ones and twos heading up Lefthand as if it were life as usual ... but these are the folks who climb to Gold Hill on racing bikes, so what else is new?

I'm sure everyone joins us in thanking the road crews for reopening this road, of most benefit to residents, but good for everyone.


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