Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 49 – Jumping to Georgetown via Argentine Pass

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Three hours. That was Dan’s prediction of how long it would take us to summit Argentine Pass. A hour to the dirt. An hour to the base. An hour of hike-a-bike.

“It only took us three hours to climb Marshall, and this time we’re starting higher,” said Scott. “Surely we can make it up in three hours.”

“I think it’s going to take longer.”

I’d ridden Argentine in the opposite direction, and I knew it was high.

We were also operating under Monsoon Procedures, meaning that we wanted to be up and over by noon.

“Four hours,” I had said. “It’s going to take at least four hours.”

We rolled out the door at seven, headed for Georgetown where we had every intention of getting a room for what promised to be a rainy afternoon.


We rolled back up the bikepath and through Keystone looking for any signs of our Enduro friends in town for the BME event. I think we missed them by a few hours, but we got a nice tour of the base area in the process. Skies were clear, we were in no particular hurry. Three hours.

Legs were feeling a bit empty after our late finish the night before and early start. I struggled up slight inclines, just hoping that the legs would come around. It was comforting to know that all I had to do was get to the top and then coast down. Multiple passes would have been heartbreaking.

Up Peru Creek road – skies still clear. We’re golden.


Then the hike-a-bike came into view. “That can’t be it,” I thought. “It’s way too long.” The “pass” is straight ahead in the photo.

The trail stretched up across a giant mountain side into the sky, more to the top of a ridge than to a pass.

“How high is the pass?” I asked.

“Don’t know,” Scott said.

“I think it’s 13,100,” I replied. I remembered being astounded that I could ride a bike that high the first time over.

“That’s possible.” We looked at the intimidating trail. Small clouds were starting to gather.


We put music on at the start of the singletrack. Scott rode. I walked. Eventually, Scott walked.

I’ve gotten okay with music-aided walking. I feel like we’ve gone over enough high passes in CO that I have to make peace with them.


We bypassed a lingering snowfield. We handed bikes up a washed out section of trail. Clouds continued to build, gaining steam and making the sky dark behind us. It was time to ignore the aching of the legs and the burning of the arms, it was time to go.

And go we did.



We crested the top some time after noon. Five plus hours after leaving Dillon. I was tempted to say “told you so.”

We didn’t linger long, bombing down the rubbled dirt road, watching the clouds move over the pass where we just were.


From 13,200 feet down to 8,900, we flew on jeep roads that seemed rougher than they should have. Paved Guanella Pass was a blessing for the last two miles.

Ed’s Cafe was the choice for lunch, mostly because it was the first place we saw. By the time we’d sat down and ordered lunch, the skies unleashed and the rain poured down, thunder clapped, lighting flashing.

We high-fived our timing.

A break in the weather gave us time to cruise 10 blocks to the Super Ocho where we collapsed on the bed for a much needed nap. We’d be up early again the following morning, dodging storms, gaining high passes. Sleep was much welcome.


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