Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 43 – Non-recommended sections, recommended sections

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We were climbing Mt Princeton road as the sun was setting when I exclaimed, “My legs feel pretty good!”

“That’s because we didn’t actually pedal much,” was Scott’s reply.

And it’s true. For our 12 hours out today, I’d say four hours were spent pedaling. Maybe five if I’m feeling generous. The rest? Pushing up a hill. Pushing back down the other side. Pushing up a hill. Pushing back down the other side. But it’s okay, because the day ended with fun pedaling and a stop at the Mt Princeton general store for ice cream, so all heinousness that occurred before 3pm has been forgotten.


The day started out with a hike back up to the trail. Then we pedaled for approximately 42 seconds until the trail shot straight up again and we were reduced to hiking. But it was beautiful, and for the most part, if it’s pretty out, I don’t mind hiking THAT much.

At the end of the ridge, the trail dropped down towards some crystal blue lakes. Unfortunately, it dropped too steeply to actually ride, so we walked. There were occasional rallies of several dozen feet of riding in a row.

But, it sure was pretty out.


Some rubbly dirt road descending finally let us make up some time on the hikers we were chasing. NO2, Greyhound, Dude, and Trouble were all planning on hitting the trail yesterday starting at Monarch, so we were hoping we could catch them.

It wasn’t until nearly noon that we happened upon Greyhound stopping for lunch part way up the dirt road climb to Big Hill #476 of the day. We stopped and chatted, learning that the other three had decided to take a zero day in Salida. So in the end, we’d been chasing ghosts.


Up and over the pass. Hiking down the other side, I declared that from Monarch to the base of Alpine Tunnel, the CDT didn’t have a whole lot to offer mountain bikes (except for amaze-balls views). Far more walking than pedaling. (But…they were working on building new trail which will probably someday extend up to the pass…so if it’s open to bikes that would be a superb connection)

You never know until you go. Except this was Scott’s second time doing the route. He should have known.


We debated our options over a snack and a nap on the side of the road. Climb up Alpine Tunnel and ride four more miles of trail to just above St Elmo or drop directly down to St Elmo via roads, coast into Princeton, and then consider pushing into Buena Vista.

In the end, tiredness aside, there was CDT that was open to bikes, therefor we should go ride it. And anyhow, we wanted to see if the new section of trail that connects Tin Cup Pass to Cottonwood was actually signed closed to bikes. We’d heard rumors of it being open and of it being closed.


It was definitely the correct life choice. A bit of railroad grade climbing did the soul good after no easy miles all day, a bit of a push/drag-a-bike up to the ridge, and then mostly smooth cruising between beautiful passes.

By far the best part of the day. Some stellarly build trail brought us down to the road where our suspicions were confirmed. New CDT, closed to bikes. Lame-o!


Not in Wilderness. Not in Wilderness Study. 19 miles of trail built with what we understand to be about a $5 million budget. Closed because…? Yeah. Frustrating.

Instead, we coasted down to Princeton Hot Springs to find the store still open, re-upped on some snacks and made our way to our road-side campsite. Tomorrow CT to BV. And from there…something’s going to happen.


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