Feeding the addiction

bird nerd!

Our addiction to high places and to places where trees cannot grow, continues.

run! the storms are building!

Sometimes that just means getting in the car, driving up high, and walking for a few hours. (We were also hoping to catch a couple of CDT hikers and ‘perform’ some trail magic of the egg/bacon/bagel variety).

Sometimes that means cranking out 3000 feet of climbing on granny gear roads.

Leading to ridgeline riding of the ‘dreamy’ variety.

Cranking out rideable trail above 13,000 feet? Surely a dream.

Back to reality … a little hiking now and then.

The Jones Pass section of the CDT is rarely ridden by mountain bikers. It was perhaps my favorite section of the entire four months on the CDT last summer. I was anxious to go ride it again — unloaded, and in the other direction.

I love places that make you question whether you’re still on planet earth. So outside the norm of what our eyes are used to seeing. So different than the usual routine.

Arizona is like that, too.

Can’t believe more people don’t ride this.

Well, the most direct access, from Herman Gulch, is kind of hike-a-bikey. We know, we went that way last summer. Going down was a piece of cake.

We continued on the CDT, replete with color and coasting. The CDT *is* the bikepath here.

We rolled into Georgetown on the path. But how can you loop this?

Eszter had a trick up her sleeve: a closed road turned trail through Empire Pass, climbing right above I-70. The perfect connection to make the loop. The connection also brings you to a place of great happiness: Lewis Sweet Shop!

Great sadness! No malts, sweet potato fries and candy for us.

On the remaining 1000 foot climb to close the loop we felt something rare for late September in the Mountains — scorching heat. Gentle tailwinds will do that to you, even with air temperature in the 60’s. We were dripping with sweat, and it kinda felt good.

We still had a couple of bike to hike adventures in mind, rolling from the door in Winter Park. There are lots around here, actually.

So we started on trails paved in gold, climbing away.

We took a new-to-us trail on old railroad grade. Very ‘alpine tunnel’-esque, nearing treeline.

Neither of us had made the full climb up to Rollins Pass and the divide yet, this season.

At the top, the pass is hemmed in by Wilderness. Ditch the bikes and get to walking, even if I forgot the inserts to my running shoes, fighting rolled ankles with every step.

Fellow divide travelers, crossing late in the day.

We made it out to Devil’s Thumb, sat a while, then began the slow walk back as the sun began its own slow descent.

Golden hour above treeline. Pure magic. We haven’t seen much of it, being too cowardly to camp in the ‘cold’ and generally starting so many unknown and new adventures with (what we hoped was) plenty of daylight.

This one was a little different. It was Eszter’s brilliant idea to watch the super moon eclipse from the divide. So we packed lights, puffy jackets and some slices of pizza.

The evening was incredibly warm. It was warmer than you’d expect even in the middle of summer. But once the sun’s influence was only detectable on the fading slice of moon low in the sky, it did get cold. We shared Eszter’s sleeping bag, then about halfway through the red moon, we packed up to start riding down.

point and shoot attempt to capture the blood eclipse

A fair number of other folks had the same idea as us — Rollins had some dozens of cars parked along it. Chairs were set up. People yelled, “you guys are hardcore” as we coasted down past them. We turned onto Broken Thumb to descend singletrack. We both had the same realization. Night riding is fun! We don’t do enough of it.

As usual, after 1.5 or 2 hours, night riding gets a little old, and we had the same realization: riding during the day is better, duh. We joked about the world ending, and that maybe only those above treeline, or in federally designated Wilderness would be saved. Isn’t it about time we start believing in things that are real and that actually matter, instead of fairy tales? Maybe we could believe in ourselves, and the human race in general.

We climbed the ‘hill of doom’ back to the condo just as the moon was getting its full shape completely back.

The next hike+bike adventurita started just as before, climbing aspen laced trail.

We climbed roads that are closed to cars and hid from hail under trees.

We patiently waited for mom and calf to yield the trail.

How kind of them to install a bike rack, just below treeline.

The combo of bikes+feet can take you some amazing places. Our goal was the pile of rocks just visible on the ridge above Eszter.

That one! Supposedly it is a monument to a shepherd that died in a snowstorm up here. Quite a view from the monument.

Wide open tundra running. So much fun.

We had to make some haste, with a 5pm deadline to pick up the van from the shop. Good thing we can sorta run.

Ez directed us to some primo trails, dropping all the way down into Fraser, arriving with 20 minutes to spare. Pizza was ordered, disbelief was uttered, at how well the adventure went and how lucky we are to be able to do this, together. Scanning the mountains above us for where we had gone, and the area we now have intimate knowledge of, we realized you can see the shepherd’s monument from town! Too cool. I love it that I can look around at so many of the ridges and peaks around Winter Park and know them.

It’s October now. Much longer will the high country be open?

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