Sometimes, really great plans turn out beautifully. Sometimes, really great plans turn to poo. Today, both those things happened, leaving us with happy memories of morning alpine riding while night riding towards Dillon with bikes anything but clean.
By the time I pulled my hat from over my eyes, Cjell had started the morning fire and Scott had written, and then rewritten a blog post. I was definitely OTB as far as waking up at a decent hour.
We were on the trail shortly after, pedaling, walking, pedaling, and walking some more up towards Kokomo Pass. I’d remembered the descent being a lot of fun in the other direction, so I went with the assumption that it wasn’t going to be too steep. Apparently I think descending steep trail is fun…
The gradient leveled out around treeline and we found ourselves riding through beautiful open meadows, making short work of the pass. Cookies were the reward.
Between Kokomo and Searle Pass lies some of the best high-altitude alpine riding that can be found in the state. It was even better NoBo.
We visited with the resident marmots at the top of Searle, as well as Gazelle, a CT thru-hiker from from somewhere down south. With not a worry in the world, we lazed around enjoying the sun.
And then down. Wow. I know I keep saying that we’ve found the best descent in CO, but this one trumps them all. It really does. Going from alpine chunk to alpine meadows to wooded duff to wooded rocks and roots. And for the last two miles it joins with an equestrian trail and turns into a dusty mess, but that was fun too.
Cjell turned off to regain Vail Pass and head home. It was sad to see him go.
We ran into Dan the Pizza Man near the bottom. He’d planned on meeting us near the pass but had slept in, so our ride together consisted of coasting the bikepath to Frisco and eating lunch.
After a rainstorm passed, we opted to take the Peaks trail to rejoin the CDT after it came down from 10-mile. It was riding magnificently and my legs felt good for the first time since Cat ran us into the ground in Durango. Things were looking up!
Then on the backside of Gold Hill, the trail was closed for beetle kill logging, forcing us onto a newly built road. The rain earlier had turned it into a muddy mess and with more rain threatening, we didn’t think that waiting for it to dry was a viable option. Sticky, peanut butter mud. Expletives were uttered. Repeatedly.
The mile wrecked the bikes, took ages, and was suck-balls. Once back on the trail, we limped down to the highway to find a hose and shelter from the storm that was starting to spit rain. We found both in a nice condo complex where we killed time watching it rain.
Rain letting up, we hurried away when it looked like the owners were coming home. With the trails hosed from the rain, we made our way over Swan Lake road to find Dan’s pizza place, Last Chance Pizza. A block away, Scott realized he didn’t have his phone any more. Double suck-balls.
We made our way to the shop to find it overwhelmingly busy. Scott borrowed Dan’s van to go back and find his phone at the condo complex while I hung out. By the time Scott got back and ate two slices of pizza, we were racing daylight. Dan had invited us to stay with him in Dillon and with threatening storms, we readily accepted the offer. Unfortunately, we were in Keystone and his place in Dillon, four miles in the direction we didn’t want to be going.
But we weren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so we pedaled the bikepath back, picking up some trail food and arriving to his place just as he was getting back from closing the shop. It was nearly 11 by the time we got horizontal and set what I believe to be our first alarm of the trip. Weather was threatening and we had a high pass to get over before the storms hit in the afternoon.
A roof made sleep easy and deep. Thanks again Dan!!
It was a big day. Awesome in many ways. Frustrating in others. But that’s touring. It’s all what you make of it.