A place to share words and pics. Mostly bikes, but my photog eye does wander.

Bikes let the good times roll. In solitude or with friends. For a half hour or 8 hours. Pedals become the gears that turn the earth as the sun seems to track their motion, day after day. Miles become food, and you're hungry. The bike stops being a vehicle, or toy, or transportation and becomes an extension of will, allowing you to journey beyond the pain of self into the realm of almighty, joyous nature, she that feeds our souls. Pedal yourself into the maw of creation. Pedal yourself silly.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Colorado Trail Time

The one thing we wanted to ride for sure while in Durango was some of the Colorado Trail. While the whole of it travels roughly 500 miles from Denver to Durango, we'd be happy with a few miles to start. Unfortunately, there was still snow up high, which is where we really would have liked to go since I've never been above about 9,200 ft (which is about where the AZT goes around Humphreys) and breaking 10k ft sounded like a great idea! But alas, we were a little early in the season for above treeline stuff, so we'd have to make do, which wasn't hard to do at all.

Our big goal for the day was to see snow, which was at about 11k, which we wouldn't get to until about mile 18 if we took the CT straight out from Durango. Hmphf....we'll see, I guess. I did double the amount of red blood cells surging through my body since the day before to accommodate the high elevation, but the unknown was quite unknown. I did in fact know what I didn't know, which was that what lie ahead couldn't be known until we got there, and knew it ourselves. So we were off! Parked at Junction creek and proceeded to the switchbacks, which again, were quite pleasant. Switchbacks known!

Bike leaning on signs. Again. I think it has an affliction. Some OCD thing.

Colorado Trail! How do they get it so buff? No loose, scraggly rock? No jagged edges? Roll on!

Gudy's Rest is a good place to take in some snacks after the climb up. Durango lies straight ahead. I was rollin' with the seatpack as well, just to get stuff off of my back. I had the room, but much prefer the weight on the bike. I had some food in there with a light and layers, plus a rain coat and some Gatorade. Saved at least 5 pounds from my pack.

There's the CT following Junction Creek below. You get elevation fast in CO!
Hoffheins was the first junction we'd come to. We'd also take advantage of this junction later in the day.

The climbing was again moderate, but there was a lot of it. Some rocks showed up too.

The forest was inviting.

I could roll that dirt all day! Luckily, I had all day and that was the plan. With all the greenery, I felt like I was on an island at times, especially since it was still a bit toasty in the sun. It's hardly an island, but compared to rock and dirt and blaring sun it has the same appeal! Photo by Schillingsworth.
A little down before a little more up.

The second trail junction on the CT, to Dry Fork. This connects with the Hoffheins connector we passed earlier.

We we're getting closer to the "High Point", which would be our turnaround point for the day. I chatted with some boy scouts that had hiked down from Champion Ventures and said that there was lots of deadfall on the next climb to the snow. Knowing that, we turned at High Point, which is only at 9,500ft, but is a bit of a saddle before dropping down for about five  miles before climbing up to Champion Ventures, making the drop to the other side a rather serious commitment. We were a good ten miles in, so why not hit the Hoffheins/Dry Fork loop to square out the day? Perfect.

A few flowers were fighting for the sun.

Making the push to the top. Pretty close Photo by Schillingsworth.

High Point break. Cheers mate!

Lunch was of course a mega burrito from breakfast. It was good. I need the real food!

Had to turn the steed around and it's time to head down! I took us about 3 hours to come up this far, and we happened to catch a local that rode up with his water bottle - "Yeah, it took me about and hour and ten minutes." I'm sure we could cut some time off, but that is still pretty damn quick!

Above treeline! What a monstrous piece of rock made of pieces molded inside of long dead stars. Old as dirt too.

Tunnel vision of green. I'm smiling looking at it now. So sweet.

I stopped for a spell while John fixed a tire, and lo and behold! I see CO is wasting no time with their marijuana legalization. It's growing wild.

It was a head scratcher until he decided, "More bacon!"

One doesn't often consider the intellectual needs of bikes, but they appreciate it.

We had come down Hoffheins and now we needed to re-ascend to the CT, since Hoff was some sweet downhill bliss.
At an intersection, check the map a second.... Photo by Schillingsworth.
And I hardly remember this cool trail junction. Too busy with my face in some paper! I'm glad John got this pic. Photo by Schillingsworth.

Again, the climbing up Dry Fork was splendidly splendid. I did think of a future granny gear on a few parts.


It's like riding in a fantasy land.
The trail just hangs on in a few sections. It's real fun hitting this at speed.

We eventually found the CT again and made our way down the switchbacks to Junction Creek. And look at that switchback. Can it be any smoother?
This last switchback did have some teeth though, and while I fell into the maw of rocks, I did not get bit. Lucky me. Photo by Schillingsworth.
We started down in the lower right and made our way up to the switchbacks, then all the way up to High Point in the background. We hit the loop on the way back down, clockwise - down Hoffheins first, then up Dry Fork. The best part was we got to do that section of the CT twice, and it rolls pretty nice.

Switchback time! The climbing was good as the day before, but with a little more extra weight, my knee was sore early on. I could feel the extra wear and tear. While it didn't slow me down or make me cringe, again I felt the need for a granny gear. I guess Colorado can do that to you! Rolling the 1x9 Me-maw gear of 32x36 was fairly low, I wanted lower. I know of a 22t I can get my hands on actually.....

It was a good 30 mile day with about 4,800ft of climbing. We were out for about eight hours, but a bit of that was lounging, taking pics etc. I'm there to smell the flowers.
A successful day on the CT, if you ask me. Great climbing, some screaming downhills and blessings from the bike and weather Gods. My beer even still had a chill in it at the top.

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