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When you find yourself with a free day, it is a good idea to not waste it. Why not get high? 12,761 feet high sounded good to me.

 

Up, up, and away!

The hike begins about 10.5 miles up La Plata Canyon. A high -clearance vehicle can get about 1.5 miles higher (which would have been nice) on FR 798. My Subaru stayed safely at the bottom, awaiting my return.

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one of the many Leccinum (Aspen Bolete) mushrooms i saw

The trail is an old abandoned mining wagon trail. If you take the shortcut trail to the left, you save a half mile and get to see this cool old mill. You also have to scramble up some steep, loose crappy rock talus. I decided then that I would take the long way back down later.

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View from below the mill

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Looking back down the valley after scrambling up the steep “shortcut”

The road/trail consisted of rock.  Lots of loose chunks of rock that made me wonder why I chose trail runners over hiking boots. The scenery was breathtaking, as was the altitude.

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Looking up into Tomahawk Basin and Basin Creek

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A closer view of Basin Creek falls as i hike higher

Switchback after rocky switchback, I wound higher and higher up the drainage. The wagon road came to an end, marked by old, rusty mining equipment.

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Looks like old rail and cable

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The mill down below had similar wheels…

The trail became a lot sketchier, but at least there was a trail! This section has been called “Columbine Hill” due to all the flowers everywhere. I think I was a few weeks early for the full summer peak, but it was still beautiful.

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Indian Paintbrush, Columbine, Daisy, etc!

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The natural and man-made rock formations were pretty cool up here!


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Nice stack!

 

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so many rocks….heart shaped!


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Blue Columbines


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Higher and higher up the switchbacks


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More wildflowers!

Just when I was sick of rocky switchbacks, the end of the trail came into view: the old Tomahawk Mine! It looked like the entrance to Moria, but only went in a few feet.

In order to summit Diorite from the mine, you have to find your way straight up about 300ft vertical sans trail.  Using flower clumps as natural stairs, I clambered up to the top of the saddle.

 

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No trail…..just go up any way you can!

Once at the saddle, the views were awesome! Wildflowers were growing out of the rocks everywhere, and the rocks themselves were so wild looking.  The La Plata mountains are a sub-range of the San Juans, and are very young.  Their age also makes them scary and sometimes deadly.

Looking SW at the top of the saddle. This ridge between Diorite and Moss is impassable. Hesperus Peak is to the right.

I almost turned around at this point.  I was tired, and the traverse over to the peak looked sketchy.  Plus I was alone…for miles. So close–no turning back now!

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looking NNE at my goal- Diorite Peak.

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Another view of Hesperus (or is that Centennial?) and now Sharkstooth Peak off to the right

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I had to navigate this spiky mess of rocks to get to that peak in the background?

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Spiky section crushed….last push before the summit!

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Made it! 12,761 feet up on a beautiful day!

Summit selfie!

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Kennebec Pass to the east of me….


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looking back SW towards Lavender, Moss, Centennial, and Babcock peaks

 

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Look at the west side of the peak! Straight down!!!

The view from the top was incredible! It took me much longer than I thought to summit, so I quickly had a snack, said bye to the squeaking pika, and started back down.  With just over 3,400 feet of elevation gain in 3.4 miles, I was already pretty tired and I didn’t want to fall off the mountain.

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Cool rock formations along the ridge!


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Indian Paintbrush are so pretty!

 

I managed to navigate the hill climb without killing myself, although I did slip at the very top and gave myself a pretty good scare. Seeing the mine entrance again was a relief!

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safely back at the mine and back on the trail

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No other humans up here today…just me and the marmots.

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A beautiful wild rose

Treading on rocks the entire way down grew tiring on my feet and knees.  I even cut a few switchbacks just to finish faster. Since the rocks were all so loose, eyes had to be down on the ground!  I saw a ton more rocks shaped like hearts.  Here are my two favorites:


 

If you want to see the Strava info, click here. For some reason it was not 100% accurate in elevation, but close enough.

Until next time, WP&BG!

Sometimes you just need to pack up some gear and take off for an adventure. I shuffled my schedule around and was able to take 2 days off to “relax.” It happened to fall on an anniversary of sorts for me, too, so I wanted it to be extra special. I did something that—had I told my mother—she would not have approved.

This guy was my best friend through a lot!

This guy was my best friend through a lot!

A lot of really shitty things happened in my life last year. A lot of those things had to do with death. Something I’ve learned out here in the great state of Colorado is that death isn’t as scary. My childhood friends would cautiously talk about the subject while growing up in grade school…..wondering if it hurt, or if it was as scary as it sounded. When you live in Colorado and participate in the never-ending outdoor activities available, you learn that it’s not the worst thing if one of your friends is killed in a bike crash, climbing accident, or avalanche. It’s a part of life out here…always pushing the limits.  And if it’s time…..it’s time.

My sweet campsite by a creek at 10,800ft and nobody around but marmots.

My sweet campsite by a creek at 10,688ft and nobody around but marmots.

Anyhow, before I go further on that tangent, I just wanted to say that I recently moved into my own place. No roommates, no pets, nothing. Just me. Well…I do have a few spiders, carpet beetles, and earwigs, but once I find them, they have no chance.  I miss my bird, so rather than stay at home to work on my incredibly large and never-ending to-do list, I packed up some gear and drove myself to Silverton on Tuesday.

The wild flowers up high are really goin' off! Wow!

The wild flowers up high are really goin’ off! Wow!

After swinging through town, I drove out a sweet country road to the campground by the Ice Lake trail-head. I didn’t stop…..why pay for camping? I drove a few more miles and about 1,000 feet in elevation on a crazy dirt road. The Subaru did well! I even came across a nice couple coming down the road who had seen Fixie Dave come bombing out of the Colorado Trail on his fixed-gear Fat Bike.  Just two days earlier, I dropped him off at the trail-head in Durango.

He's all smiles as he heads out for an adventure!

He’s all smiles as he heads out for an adventure!

Having Dave stay the night was really fun! I got to know him a little better over a few local microbrews. Turns out he likes Valentina hot sauce, any cold beer that is handed to him, and could live on macaroni and cheese every day for the rest of his life. I’m not so sure about that last one! Some of you may have heard the news that I sold my mountain bike and haven’t really wanted to ride after a bad experience at elevation….Dave reminded me to not take everything so seriously.  Rides don’t have to be “epic” all the time, as long as they have a high giggle-factor and are mellow and fun.  Well said.

There he goes, just minutes into his individual time trial of the Colorado Trail Race.

There he goes, just minutes into his individual time trial of the Colorado Trail Race.

Back to the story: After setting up camp, I did a little hike to Lake Hope.  The trail was a creek in places due to all the rain we’ve been getting, and there were a few steep and fun waterfalls I had to cross over.

That log is huge, and the waterfall was very steep.  Hard to tell on the iPhone pic...

That log is huge, and the waterfall was very steep. Hard to tell on the iPhone pic…

I came across two teenage girls who had hiked up from the lake and were walking down to trail towards where I had started. They asked me if this trail looped around. I pulled out my trusty map, commenting that I did not remember seeing a loop and they may want to head back. Nonchalantly, one of them piped, “Oh, I’ll just call my mom and have her come pick us up.” After mentioning that there is no cell service until closer to Silverton , she replied, “we’ll just walk until we get service or try to hitchhike back.” That got me thinking about high school. We learn all this crap in school, like the Pythagorean Theorem, and I couldn’t even tell you what it is or what it’s for if my life depended on it. The kids out here learn cool stuff, like not being worried about being almost in Silverton when they came from Telluride. I hope her mother didn’t have to go get them, because that would take a good 3 hours or so.

Breathtaking!  You can really see a long way off towards Telluride.

Breathtaking! You can really see a long way off towards Telluride.

Hope lake was worth it.  The last ‘little’ climb over the ridge led to the view in the above photo.

That’s what was on the other side.

Wildflowers, mountains, and yours truly!

Wildflowers, mountains, and yours truly!

I woke up at 5:15am to a pika squeaking nearby. The temperature had dropped to 33 degrees overnight so my tent was mostly frozen. I shoved it into the car while the JetBoil was heating up some coffee, and soon was ready to head back down to the trail-head for Ice Lakes.

Sunrise photo from camp, with old mining building nestled in there.

Sunrise photo from camp, with old mining building nestled in there.

When I arrived, I was maybe the 5th car in the lot. The Ranger said a lot of people hike this trail, so I mentally prepared myself.  While I was tying up my boots, 3 more cars rolled in.

For those of you who knew my bird, you may agree that this plant could be named "Goober's Tailfeathers"

For those of you who knew my bird, you may agree that this plant could be named “Goober’s Tailfeathers”

Looking behind me on my hike up to Island Lake.

Looking behind me on my hike up to Island Lake.

I really enjoyed the flowers on the way up, and turned right at the fork to head up to Island Lake. My plan was to avoid tourists, but a big group that pointed up at my bright red shirt started to trod up the path, too. I booked it, only stopping to whistle at a marmot and watch a jackrabbit hop away.

A shot of Island Lake from 13,000ft up on a crazy ridge.

A shot of Island Lake from 13,000ft up on a crazy ridge.

I was the only person up there at first. I enjoyed my few minutes of solitude, then I found myself continuing up this insane barely-there trail to the top of the ridge. It was washed out, lose, no footholds….you get the idea.

Going Up!

Going Up!

By now, there were a few groups down below and I could hear someone exclaim “look…someone’s up there!” referring to me. The trail got really sketchy for me, but I clawed my way up, and finally summited the ridge. I almost turned around at one point, but I really wanted to see what was on the other side.

This is what I saw.

This is what I saw.

 

....and just to the right of that last pic.  This is all loose, chossy rock with amazing cathedral-like spires.

….and just to the right of that last pic. This is all loose, chossy rock with amazing cathedral-like spires.

Apparently this trail is used for racing the Hardrock 100. Blows my mind how someone can just run up stuff I was literally climbing up on my hands and knees.

It's cool finding plaques at the top of peaks.

It’s cool finding plaques at the top of peaks.

Going back down!

Going back down!

Cheesin' it up by the most amazing lake I've ever seen.

Cheesin’ it up by the most amazing lake I’ve ever seen.

Look waaaaay up there in the orange colored scree and you'll see the trail I climbed.

Look waaaaay up there in the orange colored scree and you’ll see the trail I climbed.

I decided to take the trail down to Ice Lake. Why not? It was very beautiful and made me extremely happy that I chose the counterclockwise direction. Ice Lake was pretty, but full of people, so I took a pic and boogied back down the trail.

First view of Ice Lake from the connector trail.

First view of Ice Lake from the connector trail.

The water is SO clear and blue!

The water is SO clear and blue!

Coming back down from being up high is always a mind game. You have tourists all over the place, your feet hurt, your mind may be telling you stuff….worrying about the to-do list perhaps. I tried to focus on why I was up there on a Wednesday. Goober‘s day. I used to worry about that little guy all the time! If I was out for a bike ride or a hike, I’d feel guilty for leaving him at home all alone. I couldn’t just pack up my car and drive to the mountains for a few  days without having a bird sitter. Even if I had a bird sitter, I’d still worry about the little guy the whole time. So….I realized that while I am alone in my new place, in a new town, I don’t need to worry about anyone but myself. Take care of ME so I can take care of other people in my life.

Looking back down the valley. My Subaru is somewhere down there...

Looking back down the valley. My Subaru is somewhere down there…

Mountain fresh cold creek water is the best on tired, achy, blistered feet! Thank goodness I painted my toes before I left....

Mountain fresh cold creek water is the best on tired, achy, blistered feet! Thank goodness I painted my toes before I left….

So that was my day. Solo camping and hiking totally off the grid. I wish I could still be out there. There’s still so much to see.  So many ridges to summit.

Until next time,

OXOX

ChiroCycleGirl

Yesterday (which was my “weekend”), Stixs and I drove over to Breckenridge for an easy little hike.

Starting at 10,850, we only had a little bit of a  hike up to 14,265....

Starting at 10,850, we only had a little bit of a hike up to 14,265….

We didn’t even leave Carbondale until after 9am….so I won’t bother telling you when we even began to hike the 3.1 miles to the top. Anyway, we were on a mission to bag this 14er!

Stixs at the beginning of the hike.  This ice would later be a PITA on the way down in the dark...

Stixs at the beginning of the hike. This ice would later be a PITA on the way down in the dark…

I had a pretty nasty cold for a week, so I was moving a little slower than usual.  Nonetheless, the views were awesome….but we still had a long way to go!

I think that's Mt Lincoln in the background...another 14er

I think that’s Mt Lincoln in the background…another 14er

The top of Quandary in the distance.

The top of Quandary in the distance.

In that last photo, you can see the ridge to the left.  That’s the standard route and that’s what we hiked.

Stixs decided postholing up the side of the mountain was faster than taking the trail.  It was definitely more fun on the way back down!

Stixs decided postholing up the side of the mountain was faster than taking the trail. It was definitely more fun on the way back down!

We stopped for lunch just above treeline, but had to keep moving due to cold wind and limited daylight.

Hoagie at 12k

Hoagie at 12k

nom nom nom

nom nom nom

Just after lunch, 3 people and a dog passed us on their way down. I wonder if they were thinking “idiots….still a long way to go and it’s late!”

Still not that close to the top....

Still not that close to the top….

....but closer than we were!

….but closer than we were!

So about now is when I was wheezing my butt off and my legs turned into concrete.  13,500ft.  Air is thin….and cold.  My first 14er over the summer was totally different!

La Plata Peak 14,433 in July was nice and warm  :-D

La Plata Peak 14,433 in July was nice and warm
😀

Nevertheless, we kept going.  Poor Stixs would have probably summited by now.  This was his 12th 14er.

The peak is just up ahead!

The peak is just up ahead!

As we got closer to the top, the wind was ridiculous.  I finally saw the flag at the top, and a gust of wind completely blew me right into it.  Ha!

A few feet from the peak!

A few feet from the peak!

I quickly snapped a pic of Stixs hiding from the wind from where I was hiding!

I quickly snapped a pic of Stixs hiding from the wind from where I was hiding!

It was so cold, it reminded me of a link my Georgia friends posted on Faceland the night before about people dying on Mt Everest and their bodies remaining years and years later.  If you’re interested, check it out here but beware it does show dead people!

Terrible selfie with gaper gap from my wind shelter spot

Terrible selfie with gaper gap from my wind shelter spot

Of course, I had to pee once I stopped moving at 14,265ft up in the brutal wind.  That was cold. Brrr!

Cool photo of cairns at the top

Cool photo of cairns at the top

Stixs and I before hauling back down the mountain.

Stixs and I before hauling back down the mountain.

Tightening up my boots while Stixs was taking some photos.  BRRrrrr!

Tightening up my boots while Stixs was taking some photos. BRRrrrr!

And we began the trek back down….with not much time left on the clock! We were rewarded with a very awesome sunset about 2/3 of the way down.

Amazing alpenglow!

Amazing alpenglow!

That quickly turned to dark…..but the snow still illuminated our path…well, at least until we hit treeline!

My view for the next mile.

My view for the next mile.

We made it out just after 6:30pm. 6 hour hike (with breaks), 6.2 miles, about 3800ft elevation gain, lots of snow and ice and amazing views.  Quandary is known for its mountain goats, but unfortunately they must have been hiding from the wind.  We only saw a few birds and pikas up there.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/403997209

Click above for Garmin data if you’re into that kind of stuff.

That’s all for now!  Until next time….

WP&BG!

After a busy morning in the office, I packed up my camping gear, loaded up into Richard’s truck, and headed towards West-Central Colorado.

Driving over Independence Pass

Driving over Independence Pass

We arrived in the town of Poncha Springs, CO, and found a pretty sweet camping spot just outside of town.

Pretty awesome sunset as we set up camp!

Pretty awesome sunset as we set up camp!

Richard, Gary, Jen H and I headed off to find dinner in town.  On the way, we bumped into Corie and Jen E, gave them directions to our campsite, then chose an Italian place to eat at and make animal sounds.  Carb up!!

We started a fire back at the campsite, prepared our packs for the ride in the morning, then headed to sleep.  Between the almost full moon and the fact I discovered my rear tire’s sidewall was de-laminating, I had a hard time sleeping!

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Dehydrated Granola, breakfast of champions!

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Corie lookin’ all cute while making breakfast burritos

Rise and shine!  We all had breakfast and finished preparing for the ride, then drove down to the bike shop in hopes they had a 29er tire for me (which they did, whew!) Jen and Corie rode down, and just barely made the shuttle!  Another whew!

Riding the shuttle up to Monarch Crest Pass

Riding the shuttle up to Monarch Pass

Woohoo!  Monarch Pass!

Woohoo! Monarch Pass!

Unfortunately, my tire wasn’t the only mechanical of the day.  Upon unloading the shuttle, we found Jen H’s bike had a flat.  I also discovered that my pedals were on their last legs.  Jen E had a brake problem, and Richard’s shock was not behaving.

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Parking lot bike shop

While we were tinkering with bikes, a woman rode over and asked me about my shorts. “I saw them across the parking lot and just had to ask you about them,” she said. I told her all about my Shredly shorts!  Love them.  If you missed my review on DrunkCyclist, go check it out.

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Signing the register at the beginning of the trail.

The trail was beautiful.  The weather was perfect.  The company was amazing.  We all enjoyed pedaling the brown ribbon of trail up that meandered along the Continental Divide.

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Coming up to the highest point on the Crest trail

Coming up to the highest point on the Crest trail (if you zoom in, you can see Richard and Jen waaaay up there)

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It’s impossible to ride anywhere around here without bumping into someone you know…hello Michael Hayes!

We bombed down the first funtastic DH section, and had some snacks before climbing back up through some rooty goodness to more amazerful downhill.  My new rear tire was working out well, although I was bouncing all over the place due to running a tube.

Here comes Jen H! Her first big ride in 2 years.  She kicked some butt for sure! :-)

Here comes Jen H! Her first big ride in 2 years. She kicked some butt for sure!:-)

Just after this picture, Richard broke his chain and then flatted, and discovered his pump was defective.  Luckily for him, another biker gave him some CO2 and he caught up with us.

Lunch Time!

Lunch Time!

The next section of trail meandered along the Colorado Trail, which I’ve been dying to ride since I first visited Colorado in July 2010. It was AWESOME. I didn’t stop for any pictures.:-)

At the bottom of Silver Creek, having 2nd lunch before riding Rainbow.

At the bottom of Silver Creek, having 2nd lunch before riding Rainbow.

The traditional route takes you down Silver Creek Trail.  We all bombed this section….flying through trees, talus, rocks, roots, and creeks.  Corie had a minor casualty in the sketchy, loose talus, and I had some nasty chain-suck, but we fixed everything and were back on our way.

Triple chain suck?  Ouch!

Triple chain suck? Ouch!

Rainbow Trail was so beautiful!  It reminded me of some of the north Georgia trails I used to ride.  Lots of trees, flowy trails, and amazing scenery.

Big Trees!

Big Trees!

High, open meadows with wildflowers and big views.

High, open meadows with wildflowers and big views.

Corie and Jen took a road back to the campsite, and Richard and I kept going so we could retrieve the truck from the shuttle parking lot.  Everything was awesome until my rear brakes decided to quit working.  We changed the pads, but it didn’t really help.  I need to learn how to do a trailside bleed. Anyway, I was still able to ride out most of the DH section with just front brakes, then the rest of the ride was down the 285 highway.

Recovery Drinks!

Recovery Drinks!

Ride stats and deets can be found here. We took it pretty mellow….can’t wait to return again and go a bit faster!

Night out on the town

Night out on the town

We changed and drove into Salida for dinner and some fun.  It’s a cute little town, but we were all pretty tired, so we hung out for a bit then headed back to camp and crashed.

Pretty cool distillery in town.  Jennifer knows the head distiller!

Pretty cool distillery in town. Jennifer knows the head distiller!

The next morning, Richard and I decided to drive to Crested Butte since our bikes were out of commission.  We dropped Corie and Jennifer off at the top of Monarch Pass for their round #2 (down Starvation Creek) and made our way to CB.

Chairlifted up as high as we could go, then hiked to the top of Mt Crested Butte.

Chairlifted up as high as we could go, then hiked to the top of Mt Crested Butte.

12,162 feet up in a pretty epic thunderstorm with some small hail.

12,162 feet up in a pretty epic thunderstorm with some small hail.

The lift was closed when we got back down to it, so we walked down the service road while listening to the pikas squeaking all over the place, then got bored and bushwacked down the side of the mountain for a bit.  The bike park trails looked sweet….I put that on my list!

Wild Raspberries...yum!

Wild Raspberries…yum!

We finished the day off with a Blue Cheese, Fig, and prosciutto pizza at Secret Stash, then drove home into the beautiful sunset.

Sunset over Kebler Pass

Sunset over Kebler Pass

Since we were going to drive right past the Penny Hot Springs, we stopped and soaked for a bit before heading back to Carbondale. Another fun weekend with friends comes to a close!

Until next time….WP&BG!

Goober.

20130808-100820.jpg

Goober.
March 25, 2003 – August 6, 2013

Shenanaventure

The first time I attempted the 4-wheel road from Marble to Crystal, Jeff and I had to turn around one mile in because some other jeep dude broke an axle and had to reverse out of the rocky road.  We tried it again a few months later, and were rewarded with spectacular fall colors!

Beaver Lake in Marble, CO

Beaver Lake in Marble, CO, Fall 2012.

Jeeping is fun…if you’re in the driver’s seat!  Technically we were X-Terraing.  Jeff’s truck handled the rocky terrain quite well.

Jeepin'

Jeepin’

We made it the whole 4 miles to the famous Crystal Mill, parked, and played in the freezing cold water.  This Mill is the most photographed structure in CO….even thought it’s pretty hard to get to!  The town of Crystal itself has a few buildings and houses, but that’s about all. The residents only live there in the summer.

Jeff & I enjoying the view and the cold water!

Jeff & I enjoying the view and the cold water!

Not too long after these pics were taken, the snow came, and that road was closed for the winter.  This past Saturday, a small group of insane cyclists went to Marble to ride this entire loop before it was open to jeeps.  Although most of us were just meeting for the first time, we wasted no time in giving each other nicknames and laughing our asses off at offensive jokes.

Gary started off the ride putting his shorts on inside out.

Gary started off the ride putting his shorts on inside out.

I left my car down at the BBQ joint where we were going to have our post-ride grub, so 5 of us piled into the truck to 4-wheel it up the first nasty hill to meet our #6 person.  He was already gone….. left a note in the dust on his window saying he left at 10:40.  We got there at 10:41.

10:40 FAIL

10:40 FAIL

Riding mountain bikes was way easier than jeeping, and a lot faster.  We got to the mill pretty quickly, stopping only to tell more bad jokes and laugh, or to view the excellent scenery. We even saw a big fat porcupine!

Nice shot of Crystal Mill.  The river is HIGH!

Nice shot of Crystal Mill. The river is HIGH!

The Gang at the Mill!

The Gang at the Mill!

We found Todd (Minute Man) at the mill, and continued on up the heinous climb through Lead King Basin.  There was one hill in the beginning we all had to push bikes up….it was never ending!  Oh, yeah.  Forgot to mention I left my Garmin in my car by the BBQ joint so this ride never really happened, right? 😛

The first bit of hike-a-bike....when it was still amusing!

The first bit of hike-a-bike….when it was still amusing!

At first we thought we wouldn’t see any snow.  When we finally found a bit, it was fun to play in.  The snow was just slushy enough to not be rideable.  It got old pretty quickly, but it did slow us down enough to see lots of waterfalls, and fix all the flat tires “Low Rider” kept getting.

Crossing mudslide debris.

“Low-Rider” crossing mudslide debris.

We had to ride bikes uphill, through streams, over snow, and even mud slide debris.  The dude on the rigid singlespeed was long gone.  I stopped to smell the flowers.

Glacier lilies, aka Yellow Avalance Lilies, only found in subalpine meadows after a good snowy winter.  Deer love to snack on em!

Glacier lilies, aka Yellow Avalance Lilies, only found in subalpine meadows after a good snowy winter. Deer love to snack on em!

The rest of the climb felt like it took a year.  We topped out around 11,500 feet in elevation, and started way below at just under 8,000.  There was a lot of snow at the top….we pushed/carried bikes for at least 3 miles, and even the downhill was full of snow and mud until it got below 9,000. I’m gonna post a bunch of pics now for you to enjoy!

Climbing!  The view to the north is the Maroon Bells - Snowmass wilderness. Tall mountain is Snowmass Peak.

Climbing! The view to the north is the Maroon Bells – Snowmass wilderness. Tall mountain is Snowmass Peak.

Still more climbing! This view is of the Ragged Mountain Wilderness.  Richard is way up there....

Still more climbing! This view is of the Ragged Mountain Wilderness. Richard is way up there….

While trudging through the snow with bike on shoulder, we saw the rest of our group ahead.  And more snow.

While trudging through the snow with bike on shoulder, we saw the rest of our group ahead. And more snow.

Side note….walking across snow bridges is a bit scary!  If you post-hole down, your foot would end up in the cold stream.

The view from the top!

The view from the top!

This group does this ride every year.  Apparently there was more snow this year than previous ones.  It was truly an epic adventure ride full of shenanigans….one that we’ll all remember for years to come.  The downhill was fun, but tedious, having to climb and post-hole through more snow, mud, and streams.  My feet were numb and soaking wet by the end.

Bear print!

Bear print!

The downhill was pretty muddy when it wasn't snowy or rocky or covered in a freezing cold stream.  Gary and Richard covered in mud!

The downhill was pretty muddy when it wasn’t snowy or rocky or covered in a freezing cold stream. Gary and Richard covered in mud!

After we all returned safely to the trucks and had a celebratory beer, we headed to the BBQ joint to refuel.  Man, it was so good, and we had a cute little kitten to entertain us.

Post-ride grubbin' at Slow Groovin' BBQ in Marble.  This little kitty was stupid cute...

Post-ride grubbin’ at Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble. This little kitty was stupid cute…

Well, he looks a bit Satanic in that pic.:-)

That’s all for now….until next time, WP & BG!

Showin’ Some Skin

I haven’t been inspired to write in my blog in a LONG time, mostly because I’ve been super busy getting my office up and running.  This week has been quite inspirational, thanks to Cripple Creek Backcountry.

Stick 'em on to go up, rip 'em off to go down.

Stick ’em on to go up, rip ’em off to go down.

For my friends who don’t know what skinning is, here is a quick wiki article on ski touring/ski mountaineering/climbing skins.  I only have a dinky Alpine ski setup, so when Stixs kept bugging me to join him on a full moon hike up Buttermilk, I figured I should try to demo something rather than be miserable while carrying my heavy DH gear uphill in my ski boots.

Full Dynafit setup.  Baller.

Full Dynafit setup. Baller.

On Monday after my last patient, I ran over to Cripple Creek Backcountry and was lucky enough to get the total hookup by one of the shop’s awesome owners.  In less than 10 minutes, I became an expert on Dynafit equipment, and was in the car driving up to Aspen 30 minutes later.

Snowcats are pretty neat

Snowcats are pretty neat, just don’t get run over by them!

The skin up was slow-going for me, since I had a bit of whiplash from my crash at Snowmass the day before, didn’t eat dinner, and had a cold all last week.  I have no idea how long it took, but it was very challenging to fight past the bonk.

Full Moon lit up the mountains

Full Moon lit up the mountains – Maroon Bells in the background.  No headlamps needed!

At the top, there was a warming hut.  Stixs left his board in the snow, so I left my skis there, too, then hiked up a crazy trail where a bunch of people were hanging out by a bonfire.  That hike was terrible, since my legs felt like Jell-O and my feet were almost frozen.  The thought of a whiskey reward kept me going.

Made it to the top! Look at that view...

Made it to the top! Look at that view…

Lots of people hanging out by the fire....and a ton down in the warming hut. We left around 11, I imagine the party was rockin' pretty late!

Lots of people hanging out by the fire….and a ton down in the warming hut. We left around 11, I imagine the party was rockin’ pretty late!

The ski back down the mountain in the moonlight with super fresh groomed corduroy was AWESOME!  I ate it once, then realized long skis need BIG turns, and ripped it the rest of the way down.  The torture was worth it!

4:20am wake-up call!

4:20am wake-up call!

It was so awesome that I decided to join Cripple Creek Backcountry on their group skin up Sunlight Mountain.  Meet at the shop at 5:15 am, be skinning by 6, and watch the sunrise from the top.  That was the plan, at least!

FREAKING COLD!

FREAKING COLD!

…and it was windy at the resort.  Felt way colder than -5!  My Garmin wouldn’t even collect data on the climb.  I’m blaming the temperature.  Here are the stats anyhow, if you want to look.  37mph on the way down…not too shabby on super long (175….very twitchy) skis!

Beautiful warm sun coming through the aspen trees

Beautiful warm sun coming through the aspen trees

Sunlight was much steeper than the Tiehack section of Buttermilk.  I was working so damn hard, yet everyone beat me to the top and caught the full sunrise.

Fast friends goofing off while I'm still climbing

Dawn Patrol goofing off while I’m still trodding up the mountain

Amazing sunrise

Amazing sunrise

The top!!  Finally!!!

The top!! Finally!!!

Covered in sweat, yet literally frozen with frost.

Covered in sweat, yet literally frozen with frost.

The ski back down on the groomers was fast and fun (and freezing) and made me forget how miserable I was on the climb up.  I giggled the whole way down!  It took me about 4 hours to finally feel warm again, but that was a fantastic way to start my Wednesday!  If I keep it up, maybe I’ll be in shape for bike season.

Until next time, WP&BG! (Or should I say Ski Wax instead of Bicycle Grease?)

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