August 11, 2016

CO: Canyon Creek

A few months prior I had mentioned to Scott that I'd be driving through Colorado in mid-August. If he and Eszter (EZ) were nearby it would be cool to meet up for a ride. Well, we kept pinging each other as the time approached and it looked like our paths would indeed cross. What to ride? Hmmm. Scott had a new-ish bike and he mentioned a route he really wanted to do. Then I asked him how long he thought it would take? 4-5 hours. Drat. No way K was going to go for that. I told her I didn't think I had time for a Mr. Morris type ride, better stick to something known. Perhaps another out-n-back on the Monarch Crest? Not a bad Plan B if you ask me.

Then I received another message from Scott. 'I found my track, it shows 3 hours of moving time and I rode it with Lee'. Now we're talking. I know Lee, and roughly the pace he rides, so I figured that was a safe estimate. K bought in and the Canyon Creek Loop was ON.

Scott & EZ had some things to do in Gunnison and we had laundry to do in Salida. We'd meet in the middle on the west side of Monarch Pass up at the Snowblind CG. The ride would be around 20 miles, up a jeep road, then some promised hike-a-bike (HAB) to the high point. From there the payoff would be an extended downhill back to Snowblind. Go.

It's always a treat for me to ride with these two. A fun time is had, no matter what the terrain throws at you. My kind of riders. I just hoped I could keep up. EZ was coming off a huge effort in a trail running race a few days earlier, so I thought she'd be a bit tired - I couldn't tell. Scott's always a mountain goat on the bike. Considering all the riding I had been doing, I felt great. My lungs didn't explode above 12k either!! Bonus.
The jeep road was almost all rideable, even the wet parts.
See that dome up there on the left? That's where we're going.
I did say 'mostly' rideable.
We made it to singletrack!! Now start pushing.
Scott had promised quality HAB to get to the high point. He wasn't kidding, not that I thought he was. At least it wasn't all in one push. There were rideable bits here & there and plenty of steep pieces to attempt. I watched in awe on a few of those as he muscled up some insane pitches.
A very curious marmot kept inching closer to us seeing what we were up to.
Ride some...
Push some...
Enjoy the bits of uphill pedaling...(Photo by Scott)
Then push a little more, but those views!!

His & her HAB action shots, singing 'I love Hike-a-Bike, put another foot in front of the other!!'
I wasn't left out of the HAB party. (Photo by Scott)
There was some uphill pedaling above 12k!! (Photo by Scott)
Pretty sure EZ was grumbling here...
Yeah, it's as steep as it looks.
2:45. That's how long it took us to reach the high point of the ride at 12,218', incidentally the highest the Voodoo's ever been. What happened to our three hour moving time for the entire ride? We really hadn't stopped much. We tried to come up with scenarios why Scott's data seemed to be off, in the end it really didn't matter. We were up above treeline on a cool summer afternoon gazing across mountain range after mountain range. We'll finish when we reach the end. Pass the Pringles.
Dropping in!! The start of 10 miles of MTB bliss. (Mostly)
See that tiny ribbon of dirt near the shadow break? We get to ride down it!!
Perhaps some desert outings with these two in the cooler months?
Small man in a big world. (Photo by Scott)
Ride to oblivion.
Alpine singletrack is sublime.
Giggle inducing downhill.
Nearing the trees.
Landspeeder fast through the forest.
Mile after mile of rippin' trail.
Water crossing photo op for the desert rat.
I did say 'mostly' downhill. Here, the Climb of Doom marks the final pitch near the end.
One last downhill rip.
Back at the start across from Snowblind CG.
As I rolled onto the forest road I could hear Scott yelling to K, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, my fault!' Our ride had pushed well beyond our 3 hour estimate at a little over 4 1/2 hours. K took it in stride, but I knew I needed to consult with EZ about finding some good eats in Gunnison & Crested Butte!!

It was a fantastic loop, part of the Vapor Trail route. It was nice to add a lesser known area to my memory bank. Thanks for pulling this one together Scott, Eszter's version is here. Until next time. flyover


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