Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category
Wow, I have been away from the BLOG for way too long. Between work being….well…WORK and a ton of other life things I have been away from the keyboard. The 401 trail is thoroughly covered in snow right now but I finally finishing off my pictures and notes from the fall Colorado trip.
I spent a few days in Crested Butte and got in a couple of great rides. One of those was the 401 Trail.
I have spent the last month working out of the country and pretty much had no-time and less mental energy to finish up my pictures and thoughts from my Colorado trip. The Monarch Crest trail was my day six excursion and it did not disappoint. Much of the route is part of the both Continental Divide and Colorado Trails. This is certainly a bucket list quality trail that I’m super stoked to have ridden.
View from along the trail
Nudging up close to 12,000 feet of elevation.
Looking down into the Silver Creek drainage that I would soon be riding through.
Near the bottom of the Silver Creek Trail.
Check out the rest of the pictures and ride description here.
Day Five of my fall vacation through Colorado was riding around Twin Lakes between Leadville and Buena Vista. There was plenty of nice trail and killer views. Find all the pictures, maps and blabbage here.
Riding “The Commando Run” that is, you Dirty Minded Bastards! On day four of my Chasing Aspens vacation was a ride that goes from Vail Pass Summit down into the town of Minturn. The route we rode was used by the Army’s 10th Mountain Division during WWII as training for alpine skiing combat and commando raids for the war effort. We rode a series of forest roads to the Bowman Shortcut trail to the Two Elk trail. We did a total of 17.7 miles with 1,870 feet of climbing and 5,200 feet of descent. This was one fantastic trail that pretty much kept all of your trail riding skills on their toes. Check out the write up, pictures, map and GPS files I have added to the site.
Day 3 of my Chasing Aspens Tour through Colorado was in Winter Park where I could to make some new friends as well as spend some quality trail time with old friends. It was an outstanding introduction to riding at elevation and pretty fall colors. I can find a few more words and a few dozen photos of that outing here.
Man, I got back from vacation and found a mountain of work had piled up while I was gone so it has been a bit slow getting my pictures and thoughts together on that last trip. But I have managed to get a page put together on the first stop on my most excellent jaunt through Utah and Colorado.
The Good Water Rim Trail in “The Wedge” area of the San Rafael Swell was an awesome opener.
I just got back from a 10-day jaunt where I did some riding in Utah and Colorado. I meet up with some old friends, made some new ones and rode some bucket list quality trails that are already on my Top … list. Riding in the aspens during the brief window that they are turning has been on my list for a long time. So when a slow-down in my work schedule along with a tip-off on the aspens turning coincided I pulled the trigger. I packed my truck with camping gear, two bikes, fly-fishing gear, every map and guide book of the regions I owned along with a cooler full of enough San Diego microbrew cans, bottles and growlers to keep half a dozen people chilling for a week . After stuffing my laptop and GPS with tracks and waypoints I headed out. I had some general ideas but my schedule was not set more than 2 days out and it was all subject to change. This was going to be a very loosey goosey vacation. Just have a great time, see beautiful country and ride good stuff. This trip really did turn out to be something I am going to be talking about for years to come. I have many gigabytes of photos to sort through and hopefully I can gather up the right words to articulate in a meaningful way just what a life enriching experience each one these places were. For now here is a quick recap of what my on-the-fly itinerary turned out to be.
Day 1: I did a full day of driving to the San Rafael Swell in the eastern part of Utah where I setup camp in a area known as “The Wedge” on the edge of The Little Grand Canyon.
On Day 2, I did a dawn patrol ride along the Good Water Canyon Rim Trail where I enjoyed some great scenery and some high quality on the edge singletrack. Afterwards I broke camp and did another sizable drive to Winter Park, CO to met up with my old friends Kevin and JD and met Greg and Barb. I would be crashing at Greg’s house for the next two nights.
Greg owns a trail design and construction business and the next day I was treated to some of the local goods that he played a major part in bringing to life. This was also my welcome to high-country Colorado riding day and boy was the top elevation of around 11,000 feet a wake up call to my sea-level lungs. The aspens were awesome!
On Day Four we did a point to point ride from the Vail Pass Summit to Minturn on the Bowman Shortcut trail and the Two Elks trail. Oh my what a great trail and with some good technical riding. This trail really made you use pretty much your entire range of on-the-ground technical skillsets. I was blown away by the beauty of this ride. We enjoyed some tasty post-ride grub and beers in Minturn.
Afterwards we heading back up to Vail Pass summit and then further up a forest service roads to Shrine Pass where my and Kevin’s truck were at. When we got there I noticed there was a fire ring already setup not far from my truck. The views were great so I did not even move the truck. I pulled up out the gear and setup camp for the evening at 11,100 feet. The rest of the trip would follow this same kind of short-tem decision making.
On Day Five, I traveled south and rode the trails around Twin Lakes. Part of the loop I did was also the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. After the ride, and a review of the weather forecast, I continued south and camped near Poncha Springs.
On Day Six, I grabbed a shuttle out of Poncha Springs and did the Monarch Crest Trail along with Silver Creek and the Rainbow trails. An IMBA Epic, this ride was 32.5 miles long with 2,200 feet of climbing and 6,600 feet of descent with the highest elevation being above treeline flirting with 12,000 feet. The numbers are meaningless in comparison to the experience.
On Day Seven I took a rest day by fly-fishing in Salida on the Arkansas River. It had been about 14 years since I last fly-fished for trout. I should have checked my wading boots a little better before the trip because about 3/4th of a mile down the river the soles disintegrated loose from the uppers and floated away down the river. This made for both a comical and gingerly return back to my truck. I am reminded that it is called fishing and not catching so their was no trout dinner for me. It was still a great morning of standing in a river waving a stick. That afternoon I enjoyed a beautiful drive to Crested Butte and setup camp.
On Day Eight, I rode the 401 trail loop starting right from camp. This is a mountain bike classic trail and it did not disappoint. The fall colors were majestic and I have already put a return trip on the list to ride this trail again in the summer when the hillsides are covered with wildflowers.
On Day Nine, I rode the Doctor Park trail. Awesomeness was the prescription of the day. The long middle section of the descent of this ride through the turning aspens is one of the best bits of flowing single track bliss I have experienced. A handful of the folks from Team B.O.B (Babes on Bikes) and I think of subgroup of the Shreddin Betties that I had met on the 401 trail the day before were also doing this trail. Turns out some of them were friends with Barb, Greg and Kevin so we swapped some stories over beers at the lower trailhead for a while. Good times. The afternoon/evening of day nine was going to be a drive to Flagstaff or Show Low Arizona but I did not account for the mountain pass driving and construction so I only made to Cortez. On the morning of Day 10, I thought about riding Phil’s World there in Cortez but opted to knock out the drive. I am going to make a separate trip at some point for the Cortez and Durango experience. One thing that was interesting that morning on deciding to ride or drive, I realized that I was completely satisfied with this trip. My MTB soul cup was full, life was good and it was time to head home.
So last week I got in a couple of days or lift-assisted MTBing at Mammoth Mountain. Eight of us went in together on a Condo rental which made for some comfy living arrangements.
Mandatory photo at the top. Over the course of the two days I hit most of the trails with the exception of some of the red triangle “pro” lines. Some of those are freaking gnarly and I felt under traveled and under protected. There are plenty of trails for all skill levels and genres here. Good times indeed.
Steve on Twilight Zone
Dayle and Michael
Michael on Skid Marks. I love taking the Gondola all the way to the top for the last run of the day and taking Skid Marks to Juniper to roll all the way back down into town. The trail dumps out less than a quarter mile from our house and it is a fun and scenery descent. Highly recommended.
Michael rolling on Juniper
Last week I spent some time at Mammoth Lakes for some lift-assisted mountain biking. The opener for this trip however was not lift-assisted. Dave and I and checked out Lower Rock Creek located about 15 miles south of Mammoth Lakes right off of HWY 395.
To keep the logistics simple, we did this ride as a loop. We parked at the bottom of the trail and climbed Lower Rock Creek Road. It was about 7.8 mile climb that gained somewhere around 2,200 feet of elevation. Considered that we started off around 5,000 feet of elevation was quite apparent that we were not beach cruising. Dave and I eventually made our way to the top and then it was time to cash out that elevation.
The trail crosses Lower Rock Creek Road twice dividing the trail into thirds. The upper section is nice and flowy with lots of buff goodness that weaves through pines and aspens. It pretty much all downhill as well.
The trail is exceptionally beautiful and follows along Lower Rock Creek the entire time. It was really cool to have the sound of creek along the entire route. After the first road crossing you are in the section colloquially referred to as the “Middle” section. This section also has some nice flow with the flora shifting to more pines than aspens. If you do not smile at some point in this section just throw your bike in the creek, hike out and give up all outdoor activities forever as you are clearly too calloused to be out in mother nature.
After the second road crossing the trail gets much more technical as canyon narrows on both sides.
Dave working through the rocks.
More fun in the rocks
At several places where we stopped to figure out a line or session a move, we could see trout in the creek. Awesome!
There was some tastiness waiting in the cooler at the lower trailhead for us. This will not be my last time on this trail.