Tomorrow is going to be a hungry day. But that’s okay, because we have our tarp up, a fire going, dinner cooking, and it’s raining.
We’d gotten to the base of a surprise climb, as in “Surprise! You didn’t look at the map close enough and didn’t realize you had a 1,000 feet to climb and then four miles of traversing high on the divide before you really get to drop down for the day”. We were filling up on water and had determined that we’d need to fill up completely to be able to make dinner, breakfast, and make it to the next water source. I picked up my bag with 100 oz of water in it – Hey, it looks really grim and gray up on the divide, how about we call it early, go back to that beautiful camp site we saw 25 yards ago, and make a fire instead of climbing and getting stormed on up high?
Seemed brilliant to me. Unfortunately, it leaves us with about 40 miles to ride tomorrow on minimal food. But that’s an issue for tomorrow.
We woke up at first light and had our “mystery breakfast”, it was like eating horchata. I think it was cream of wheat based…but beyond that…yum. I wish I knew what was in it.
We were rolling by 6:45, knowing that we had a high peak to get over and then more exposed riding a few more miles down the road. Weather forecast was ok, but not super.
Riding trail soon turned into hike-a-bike trail. Chamois came off, music went in. I’d taken as much weight off of my bike as I could and put it in my pack to help with the 2,000 foot climb. It made a world of difference, not to say that the hike was easy, but it wasn’t as cumbersome as climbs have been with stuff on my bike. Live and learn.
We reached the summit fire lookout just shy of 10. We’d wanted to sleep up there last night, but we discovered why the maps say, “Not a suitable camping spot.” It was filled with bees, flies, and mosquitos. And high voltage equipment.
We did get to share the summit with a mountain goat. He watched us curiously as we gained the summit and then hung out with us as we waited for the Brits to catch up. We’d seen them gaining on us throughout the morning. We shared a summit snack as they told us a story of someone who’d been killed by a mountain goat at Olympia National Park. He’d charged the guy and severed his femural artery.
We gave him a wide berth as we made our way down from the summit along a broad, grassy, and somewhat rocky ridge. 1,000 feet down without trail, 80% ridable. Wheeeee!
I’m king of the mountain!
No. *I’m* king of the mountain!
The trail followed the divide, gaining most of the high points with minimal BS factor. Beautiful tundra riding. It then dropped down to the saddle by Haystack mountain and the trail turned Meh. Lots of trees down, lots of pointless climbs and descents.
I had to remind Scott (and myself) that if every trail was a contour trail, mountain biking would get boring real quick.
We had lunch at Troublesome Pass and headed up towards Poison Ridge, another long, exposed section. It was bluebird when we first regained treeline and we were loving life, powering up steeps and understanding why people did this trail as a day ride.
And then we looked up, and clouds were quickly gaining momentum. Bluebird one second, thunder the next. We still had 4+ miles of divide riding before we’d drop down from 11k. No bueno. We found the last clump of trees before a long, exposed traverse and hunkered down, willing to give the thunder 10 minutes to see what it did. What did it do? It started raining.
We pulled our tarp out and used our heads and tent poles, listening to the rain beat down around us and thunder clap above our heads.
It wouldn’t have been a true Colorado experience without at least one thunderstorm stop.
A break in the rain and thunder gave us a change to scurry across the traverse and back into the semi-wooded divide. Each time we left the trees, we scoped our next bail out incase the dark clouds started to grumble again. It was stressful, but soon it became apparent that we were going to make it out. High-five!
The descent was awesome. It was just unfortunate that Scott discovered that there was a climb that he’d overlooked following it.
We covered nearly 20 miles today in just over 10 hours with a lunch break and a thunder break. We haven’t seen the Brits, so we must have made okay time. We’re about 12 mile shy of where we wanted to be, but worst case scenario, if we make it to Rabbit Ears Pass tomorrow bonking and miserable, we can just coast down to Steamboat. But I think we’re going to be just fine – we have horchata breakfast, a 450 calorie bag of cashews, a package of poptarts, and single fig newton, a Luna bar, two tortillas, two single slices of cheese, a few bites of summer sausage, and a single Mento. Yeah. We’re golden.
(We also have two single serve packages of honey and two jam packages pilfered from a diner if things get dire)