Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 43 – Leaving Salida, riding the Crest

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The sun has come up blasting warmth on my face. Oh sun, where were you all night when my tootsies were freezing? I had scrambled under a low-slung tarp as soon as we finished dinner, trying to find safety from the wind and the drops of water falling from the sky. Writing was not at the top of my priority list.

We slowly made our way out of Salida in the morning. It had been a wonderful three days and I had the automatic reaction of, “Oh, we’re leaving today? Gosh, I’m tired.” Happens every time.

We’re still trying to figure out what the perfect town stop time is to allow for recovery but avoid “town fatigue.”

We had a few town things that needed to get done: Breakfast, post office, Stans refill (as both our tires had lost a good bit of air after our town ride). We ran into a few more friends, the beauty of having some of our favorite people living in town, and then finally rolled out.

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It was humid and hot, the result of a high pressure system that trapped some monsoonal moisture, and a slight tailwind going up towards the Marshall Pass turn off cooked us. I’ve never cursed tailwinds as much as I have this trip.

In accordance with our goal of avoiding the GDMBR as much as possible, we climbed Poncha Creek Road instead of Marshall Pass road under the threat of storms, low rumbles accompanying the sound of tires on rocky road and the occasional moto or ATV. I was halfway hoping the storm would turn into something so that we could sleep in the cabin at the top of Marshall.

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Instead, we rode a completely empty Monarch Crest Trail. While the hikers had complained of the incessant bikes on the 10 miles of trail when they hiked it on 4th of July morning, we saw no one other than two CT hikers. Timing is everything and knowledge is power.

We reached the Monarch store in time for egg sandwiches and fudge, the first time that store has come in useful during a ride. Their fudge was something special and I inhaled a quarter pound of it while Scott wasn’t looking, leading to us buying a second quarter pound. Apparently I was hungry.

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We crossed the highway, riding the CDT instead of the Vapor Trail connector to Old Monarch Pass and then ski resort access roads high up on the Divide.

We stopped fairly early, ducking down from the ridge to avoid the storms that were threatening and set up our tarp next to a small grove of trees. The ground was not flat. But I was tired and we were at a commitment point: Push on for at least two more miles over a rocky ridge, or rest.

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In the interest of sustainability, I chose rest.

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And even with the sloped ground and wind, I’d give sleep a 7 out of 10. The view – definitely a 10 out of 10.

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