Monday, July 20, 2009

Rocky Mountain High...

PTD…Post Trip Depression. What a horrible sickness to have, and I have come down with an awful case of PTD since arriving back to the flatlands from a ten day hiatus in Colorado. This was summer vacation at its finest. My wife Kelly, son Seamus and I headed to Denver for the 4th of July festivities. We hooked-up with my old pal James and his sister. We started things off with a bike ride up one of the canyons near Golden and then headed back to town for some BBQ and beers at Sarah’s casa. Good times!
Next we drove to a sweet mountain home just south of Buena Vista, where we ate FAT for several days. We were here to celebrate our friend Kevin’s B-day, so some activities were planned.
Monday Kelly went with the group rafting down the Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River while Seamus and I did an acclimatization ride on gravel. Pulling a 30lb kid around in a trailer on gravel at altitude on a single speed 29er is a good work-out…to say the least.
Tuesday I headed out to Mt. Yale (14,202) with Kevin and Bob for a summit attempt. The weather was more than perfect and we made the hike/scramble up to the summit via the East Ridge without issues. The 360 degree view from the summit was awe inspiring, even with the crazy winds coming at us from the south. We hiked down the tourist route which we had dubbed ‘Denny Crane’ (because the route started at a trailhead with a similar sounding name). This route was in no way comparable to our climb up the East Ridge. We were glad to have made the right choice in not hiking up ‘Denny Crane’, which would have just made for a lame hike on loose and overused trail. All in all we made the summit, car-to-car in 9 hours. Not bad for 3 old guys from the Midwest!
After saying our goodbye’s to the Buena Vista crowd, we headed over to Crested Butte for the bulk of our trip. We love this town! No corporate anything, lots of bikes, peaks, wilderness and streams. We set camp in a shaded pine grove next to the Slate River, just 6 miles from town. Jesse & Bit, James, Amy, Kristen, Andre & Jeannie, and Erin all came out to enjoy the mountains and camped nearby. We would all casually awaken every morning, have some coffee and breakfast and plan the day.
Day one in CB the guys rode Snodgrass (out and back) while the ladies hiked the same trail one-way. This is a great intro to CB trails and was a nice warm-up to the rest of the trip. Snodgrass starts at a horse ranch with a steep and long climb, then begins flowing and traversing around a smaller peak to end at Washington Gulch Road. Not the longest ride, but good times none the less.
Day two Kelly, Seamus and I hooked up with Jesse and bit for a hike up Oh Be Joyful. This was a gorgeous hike up a mountain valley full of wild flowers and cascading streams. We hiked as far as we could before nap time, ate a good lunch and returned to the cars and on to camp. We ended the day with dinner at a kick-a$$ place in town called ‘the Secret Stash’. Absolutely the best food in Crested Butte!!!
Day three was a big day for riding. Kelly and Jeannie were dropped off at the Painter Boy Mine near the top of Washington Gulch road. They cruised down and into town in no-time and we all met for some food at the Brick Oven Pizzeria. It was cool to watch the ladies rocket down the gravel having a great time. Running the support vehicle, I got to stop and change a flat about midway down the mountain for Jeannie, in full pit-crew style and speed, and they were once again on their way.
After Lunch and naps it was the guys turn. Andre, Jesse, James and I all packed up our gear and headed to the low end of trail 401. Our plan was to ride the 7-10 miles up Gothic Road to Schoffeld (sp) pass, then ride down the 401. With looming clouds and sprinkles falling, we opted to get straight on the single track and ended up riding both up and down the 401, skipping most of the boring gravel grind. On the way back it was getting dark so we did hit the gravel road a few miles early, which required us to cross a river. This thing was cranking and was up to our knees as we thrashed through on our steeds. Now we were not only tired but wet and cold. We made short work of the remaining few miles and got back to the cars just before more rain started down. The ‘ups’ in Crested Butte are long, endurance style rides and the ‘downs’ are fast and flowing. Totally different style from what we have here in the Midwest! Neither Jesse nor I geared down our single speeds for this trip; however, I will be doing so for the Leadville 100 next month!
Day four was a group hike up trail 403. This was a fun time and an impromptu rest-day…at least for us. We all hiked up the trail to a point at which we could see both the Gothic valley and Washington Gulch. We ate some food and hiked back down to the cars, then headed into town for some window shopping and relaxing. Andre and Jeannie got a nice hotel room for the night and we were all given the opportunity to take a much needed shower, ahhh.
The next morning we casually broke camp and headed our separate ways. The vacation was a success and we all had a great time! Thanks to all of my close friends who were a part of the adventure!
I’ll post-up some photos and maybe even a few video clips of our trip very soon!

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