I’m pretty sure that Scott and I were on the same page when we woke up this morning: That we’d be in Silverton in time for a late breakfast, or a noontime lunch at the very latest. I mean, serious, all we had to do was drop 400 feet to Graysil, another 400 feet to Cascade Creek, climb to White Creek, climb over all the snow drifts that we’d scouted with our ride with Cat (that blog post coming eventually here), ride the beautiful trail towards Engineer, hike-a-bike over the lower pass instead of Rolling Pass (which all the hikers we’d seen had said was full of snow), and then drop down on trail all the way to Molas Pass, and then coast into Silverton.
Skeptical? Yeah, we weren’t.
(Next day edit: Apparently I was the only one so delusional. Scott knew we weren’t getting in till later.)
The night was, let’s call it sub-warm. We both ended up in our bivys and while I was never super uncomfortably cold, I wouldn’t have turned away a giant down blanket either. We’d strategically placed ourselves for early morning sun, and when it hit, it felt like a hairdryer had been turned on, without the blowing air. In all honestly, the ambient air temperature never dropped that low, but the frozen ground did a number on our non-insulated air pads.
We waltzed around in the sun. What’s the hurry?
We finally started riding when it was warm enough to do so in single layers. Recall that we camped at 11,700 feet. I love summer.
The drop to Graysil was less of a drop and more of a down three steps, up one type of a trail. With a lot of rocks. Still, we made good time. Passing Cascade Divide, we found that the snow had melted significantly from four days prior.
We also found that our legs hadn’t recovered from the ass-kicking that Cat had handed our way four days prior. Live and learn. Or maybe don’t learn.
We were still optimistic of an early arrival when we hit Cascade Creek. After all, it had been mostly downhill.
Now it was time to pay the piper.
And pay we did with tired legs and sputtering motivators. I guess chasing Cat around on the same trails for 6 hours at far-faster-than-tour pace two days before leaving maybe wasn’t the brightest of bright ideas. But it was totally worth it.
We climbed through the snow on White Creek. We oohed and ahhed at the views of Engineer. We stopped to eat the last of our tortillas, cheese, and salami at the base of the hike. It was 11 am. I was losing hope of anyone having a breakfast menu still on offer.
Then through mud, snow, tundra, and some more snow, we went up.
If it wasn’t so stinkin’ beautiful out there…
It is one of the hardest hike-a-bikes I know, ledgy, steep, overgrown, and now covered in mud and snow. Reaching the top was a joyous occasion celebrated with the murder of several million pixels on our cameras.
Then all downhill and easy cruising to Molas Pass. Except where it wasn’t. Like the places where it was rocky, or muddy, or snowy, or worst of all, uphill.
It was an absolutely glorious little (or not so little) piece of trail, uphill and all. Soon, we were back in intimately familiar territory, dropping down the switchbacks to the pass and then flying down the road, straight to the BlackBear Cafe. Arrival time: 3pm.
No breakfast menu, but the lunch menu was nothing to sneeze at.
Tomorrow, we tackle Stony Pass and sections 22/23 of the CT. We’re currently debating the option of making Lake City a stop on this leisure tour so that we don’t have to leave town tomorrow (and climb 3,000 ft) with three nights and four days worth of food. If I recall, Lake City has a good cafe, and I’m a sucker for good cafes.