Zen On Dirt

Day 32 – Kennebeck, Blackhawk, and black bears

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We had the perfect campsite picked out. Just past Bolam pass, it had a nice little fire ring, even though we aren’t fire makers, and some newly chopped sitting benches. Being pooped, we were going to stop early for once. Dinner was made and being shoveled into our mouths, tea was steeping, and we were starting to feel human after a long day of riding when Scott looked up.

Noodles still hanging from his mouth, “Bear!”

I looked behind me and not 50 yards away, a huge black bear was sauntering down the hill, likely heading for an evening drink at the lake.

We stood up for a better look and quickly decided that we didn’t want him any closer.

“Hey bear!” We waved our arms. He took one look at us, did an about face, and went scurrying back up the hill.

“I think we’ll sleep better if we go somewhere else,” Scott surmised.

I agreed, so we finished our dinner, drank our tea, repacked our bikes, and made the best of the last of the day.

Passed a herd of 1,000,000 elk hanging out in the meadow on our way to our new camp.


It was totally worth is as we’re camped on a ridge at nearly 12,000 feet with a huge view of Engineer to the east and our route all the way back to the La Platas to the west, plus Lizard Head and Mt Wilson and El Diente, both 14ers and HUGE. Thus far, it hasn’t gotten too cold. Definitely not an LW Coaching approved low-altitude camping spot, but what a view!

As for the day, I think pictures will do a better job describing the riding than any words that I could string together.


After some steep climbing, we finally got to the scree field hike-a-bike up to Kennebec. It was hikey.


Then some lovely trail down to the lakes where we refilled on water.

Then the hike up to Indian Trail Ridge. This section is burley coming down…it was twice as burley going up. Woowhee.


But the views and the riding up there…speechless, breathless, and way better in this direction.


Down into the trees and through the Hotel Draw section…riding through the trees on this trail would be spectacular anywhere else besides between Kennebec Pass and Blackhawk Pass…but regardless of racing or riding, it seems to go on forever. I don’t think any CT rider has ever said, “I wish Hotel Draw would go on for just a few more miles.”

By the time we hit the base of Blackhawk, I was done. Maybe slightly bonky, definitely cranky, and fully convinced that there was no way I was going to be able to get over the pass.

We stopped at Straight Creek for some water and an extended snack break, hoping for an Ez revival. I pulled out all the stops, eating Bread cookies, and apple with peanut butter, and putting the music on. Some combination of those did the trick and we made our way up the pass at a halfway reasonable pace – Scott riding in bursts, me plodding along on two feet. It got the job done.


Back above treeline, my spirits immediately improved. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when standing on top of Blackhawk pass on a perfectly windless and sunny day. Life perfection.


I won’t say that the next few hours turned unpleasant, but we were both starting to get tired. I was in the vicious cycle of getting tired from hiking my bike, making me too tired to pedal it, forcing me to hike it some more and get more tired. It’s a bad cycle to be in.

Luckily, the miles between Blackhawk and Bolam are scenic, pseudo-flattish (but not really), and can be done even when tired.

We were both pretty stoked to find the nice campsite just past a water source.

Pretty happy that Yogi the Bear came to visit, as we’re even more stoked to be camping where we ended up.


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