Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 38 – The dreaded and haunted Sargent’s Mesa

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Today we rode Sargent’s Mesa from Lujan Pass to Silver Creek in 10 hours. I find this interesting because when racing the CTR in 2011, it took me right around the same amount of time (if you subtract the fiddle farting time when I tried to sleep in the haunted woods) if not a little bit more. This means that when we’re riding, we’re riding significantly faster than my sleep-deprived, tired race pace because our 10 hours today included internet time on top of a ridge, lunch time that included slicing cheese and avocados for burritos, and plenty of time for pictures.

Makes me feel a little bit better about being tired each night.

We were motivated to move because not one minute after I finished last night’s blog post, our stove, heating water for the second half of our dinner, sputtered and died. Fuel: gone. We kicked ourselves because there were half-used bottles at the hostel in Lake City.

Then, when making our cold oats and pudding (Muddy Oats) this morning, we realized that I only packed enough breakfast for one morning. Whoops?


We climbed the road up to the meadow to confirm that Trail Angel Apple really wasn’t there and started up the trail.

I immediately threw what some would consider a bit of a fit. The trail starts out with some pretty miserable hike-a-bike that had me wondering what we were doing on Sargent’s Mesa at all. After all, this is a leisure tour and Sargents is maybe the most miserable 30 miles of trail in the state. I’d done it three times in the past and never had a good experience on it.

To summarize, here’s what the Ley guide to the CDT say about it (for the hikers):


Sorry. I have limited photo editing abilities. Turn your head sideways.

For us, other than going to Doyleville and riding 50 to Marshal Pass (GDMBR-style), there weren’t many other options.

And Sargent’s Mesa is the CDT. And it’s really not that long.


And as it turns out, when you take your time and are patient with the BS factor, there’s actually some really nice trail in there. There’s a lot of really crappy trail in there too, don’t get me wrong.

So we chipped away at it, mile by mile.

We ran into some SoBo CT hikers. We ran into the father-son duo that we’d seen up by Rolling Pass a few days ago. They’re section riding the CT, getting shuttles from the third generation of their family. Today they rode from Sargent’s Mesa proper to Lujan Pass. Tomorrow they’re going from S.M. proper north bound. Imagine being 14 and taking on a project like that with your dad. Way cool.


Eventually, the trail routers ran out of hills to summit and we got to the mesa and started the endless descent down to Tank 7 creek where we rewarded ourselves by soaking our feet in the ice cold water.

From there we ran into a mother/daughter/pony trio who were camped by the water, “fishing” by repeatedly hitting the water with a stick. Oh to be 3 again.

From there, up. Up to Windy Point nearly 6 miles away. We put music on anticipating a giant hike-a-bike. While there was some hikey-ness at the bottom, there was also some amazing trail through the haunted lodgepole pines. I daresay I even enjoyed it. Right up until the last mile, which was straight up and covered in babyheads. Worst mile of trail on the entire CT, hands down. That sort of sucked.


From there, the trail descends, climbs, and wanders before dumping out into the meadow, signaling the end of Sargent’s Mesa. 6pm.

In the end…it wasn’t that bad. Not dayride material, and I hope that I never come back and ride it again, but it has some redeeming qualities in there. Not many, but some really beautiful sections of trail and some amazing views in all directions.


We made the call to camp out and take a nero day tomorrow instead of pushing all the way in to Salida tonight. We’ve found that we’re a lot happier when we don’t get to town completely wasted. So we descended down the bottom of Silver Creek, one of my favorite trails of all time, made a fire to heat up water for some horribly undercooked pad thai, and are debating the merits of riding Rainbow trail tomorrow instead of just taking the road in.

We do actually have a fair bit of food as we were planning two nights and three full-ish days of riding instead of two full days plus a coast into town, so the lack of “breakfast” isn’t a dealbreaker.

For now, back to Caveman TV. Cheers to campfires.


One thought on “CDT Day 38 – The dreaded and haunted Sargent’s Mesa

  1. Unlike modern TV, caveman TV has some great shows that have remained compelling for millennia.

    I’ve been following your adventures since I was introduced to you through Nicholas Carman’s blog many months back. Good riding and introspection. I don’t know your objectives, but if you find yourselves at the northern terminus of the CT, I can help you out with a place to crash.

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