Just a few months after my first Ride the Rockies, I discovered McClure Pass and the town of Marble for the first time. During a routine autumn leaf expedition, on a lark, I decided to find Crystal Mill, one of the most photographed landmarks in Colorado.
McClure Pass was loaded with bicycles, and I didn’t have my bike with me. I’ve wanted to bike McClure Pass ever since that golden day in October of 2003. I finally got my chance one week ago today during Ride the Rockies.
Along McClure Pass sits the turnoff to Marble, a tiny little town with a HUGE reputation. Marble (the rock) from the quarry near Marble (the town) was used to build the Tomb of the Unknowns, Lincoln Memorial, various civic buildings in San Francisco and the Equitable Building in New York City, an early skyscraper.
After driving through Marble on a tiny little road, you follow the Crystal River along a dirt road called Schofield Pass.
Mostly four-wheel drive Schofield Pass, the gritty dirt road from Marble to Crested Butte via Crystal, traverses a nasty rock ledge called The Punchbowls, a place where you can count skeletons of four-wheel drives that never made it all the way to the top. I didn’t make it that far. This is what I recorded in my journal after my hair-raising experience:
"The scenery kept getting better and better, but the road kept getting worse and worse. One hunter passed me going down as I was going up. I knew it must be bad, or this road would be flooded with 4WDs and ATVs. It was deserted. On the biggest fall weekend of the year."
"About three or four miles from Crystal City, according to my odometer, I was tempted to back down the road because I couldn't find a place to turn around, but I didn't have a spotter. I'd wanted to park and hike the rest of the way up ever since the meadow where I'd passed the hunter. I should have stopped in the meadow. There was plenty of room there. The road before that point wasn't treacherous.
"I was alone, not good. My cell phone might as well have been dead, not good. No one knew specifically where I was, not good. Everyone knew I was taking pictures in the mountains, and some even knew I was aiming for the photogenic Crystal Mill. But I hadn't told anyone when, because I didn't know myself.
"What I was doing was stupid, and I knew it. I had no choice but to turn back. If I could find a place to turn back.
"After about two and a half to three miles of wishing I hadn't done this, wondering if I should back down, sliding off ruts, longing for the end of the road, I finally came upon a steep rocky section surrounded by thick forest but with just enough grass on the eroded road edges for me to attempt what I thought would be a four- or five-point turn. It was an eight-point turn. I wasn't sure I was going to make it without bashing in the side of my car with a tree or boulder. There just wasn't enough room to turn my car around. I'm still not quite sure how I managed it, especially without a spotter. But I did get turned around, and I immediately thanked God.
"Now I just had to get back down the mountain.
"Downhill traffic is supposed to yield to uphill traffic. That meant I could end up backing back up the mountain if I encountered anyone in the next three miles. My stomach was absolutely tied in knots. I knew I could go down. I knew I could go back up if necessary. But backing wasn't going to help. There was no place to pull over once I finished backing. Backing around the switchbacks would have been unthinkable.
"I didn't mention any of that in my prayer, but God granted me the blessing anyway. I didn't encounter another life form until I’d crossed back over the river.
"I would have liked to have parked right there and hiked back up, but there wasn't enough time before dark. I have legs. They work. I can walk. Or, well... climb! That vertical road ain't no hill walkin', Baby!"
The following year, The Lizard took me back up McClure Pass, back through Marble, and up that horrible road, and I finally got my very own photos of Crystal Mill. We've since pedaled up the other side of Schofield Pass more times than I can count. And now, we've realized my nine-year dream of cycling up and over McClure Pass. Yeehaw! Today's snowflake commemorates Day 2 of the 2012 Ride the Rockies and my many Marble Memories.
Now that we are back home from Ride the Rockies, it's time for another drawing. Everyone who makes a tax-deductible contribution to the Colorado/Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in The Lizard's name by noon, Mountain Time, on Friday, June 22, will be entered in a drawing for a set of six greeting cards designed by me. I crocheted those tiny bears and then later made the tiny socks, knitting the cuffs with toothpicks. Then I decided the bears would look cute in the socks. I snapped a whole bunch of photos, and these greeting cards were born.
All contributors will continue to receive a PDF copy of snowflake patterns I put together this year. This booklet features three amigurumi snowflake patterns that won't be published anywhere else. Read about it here.
You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!
Finished Size: 5 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water-soluble school glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line
Marble Snowflake Instructions
Make magic ring.
Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 2 tr in ring, *ch 5, 3 tr in ring; repeat from * 4 times; ch 2, 1 dc in 3rd ch of starting ch 3 (counts as final ch 5, and you will be working over dc post in next round). Do not pull magic circle too tight.
Round 2: Ch 4 (counts as 1 dtr), 3 dtr over post of final dc of Round 1, *4 dtr in next ch 5 sp, ch 5, 4 dtr in same sp; repeat from * around 4 times; 4 dtr in next sp, ch 2, 1 dc in 4th ch of starting ch 4.
If you are not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you are not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.
Round 3: Ch 4 (counts as 1 dtr), 3 dtr over post of final dc of Round 2, 1 tr in next dtr, 1 dc in next dtr, 1 hdc in next dtr, * 1 sk 2 dtr, hdc in next dtr, 1 dc in next dtr, 1 tr in next dtr, 4 dtr in next ch 5 sp, ch 5, 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 2, 4 dtr in same ch 5 sp, 1 tr in next dtr, 1 dc in next dtr, 1 hdc in next dtr; repeat from * around 4 times; sk next 2 dtr, 1 hdc in next dtr, 1 dc in next dtr, 1 tr in next dtr, 4 dtr in next sp, ch 5, 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 2, sl st in 4th ch of starting ch 4; bind off. Weave in ends.
Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.
Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.