Colorado Trail MTB Bike Tour
Day 4 -
July 24, 2006. Day four ended up being an unusual one for us. Segment 4 of the Colorado Trail passes through the Lost Creek Wilderness, which isn't open to bicycles. We toyed with the idea of hiking it, of doing the 70 mile dirt road detour, and other options, but ended up doing the following.
In the morning we left Buffalo Creek Campground (AKA Buffalo Campground), which was approximately 6.4 miles into Segment 3. We planned to ride the Colorado Trail single track from there to the edge of the wilderness, where Glen would pick us up, about 8 miles away. Phil was able to ride with us today, as Glen's knee was still a little swollen, though better than the day before.
The trail through here was really fun, groomed single track through aspens, pine forests, with a few sections with lots of roots crossing the trail. Nothing technical, but still a bit of climbing and fun descent. The dirt was tacky and smooth from the night's rain.
There were a few fun little technical sections.
Glen was there at the end of the trail to pick us up, as planned. It ended up being shorter than we'd expected. One thing we've come to expect is our Garmin Edge GPS tracks to vary greatly from what the maps and guidebooks say.
We piled into Ed's truck, 6 guys, 6 bikes and all their gear and camping gear. We headed for Bailey to stock up on ice and food.
Apparently the Bailey Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms store only sells Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. No Food. Go figure.... So Mike and Glen bought beer, and we headed to the Bailey country store to stock up on a few supplies and fill up with gas. While everyone was in the store, Steve was able to update the web page with the previous two days reports via cellular modem. We also found out that Floyd won the tour, and that the valley was having record heat wave conditions and rolling blackouts.... It was about 80 and beautiful here. We were bummed that we weren't in So Cal right now.
From Bailey we headed to Kenosha Pass, which is the finish of Segment 4, and the start of Segment 5. It's at 10,000 feet. There's a forest service campground there, and we breezed in and took the first campground that had level ground (something most of our previous campgrounds had lacked) and started to unload.
The unloading went quickly, and we set up camp. It was 11:00 in the morning. We filled up sunshowers from the hand-pumped well knowing we'd be appreciative of them later.
A few PBJ sandwiches, and we headed out to ride back (west to east) down the Colorado Trail from Kenosha Pass to the edge of wilderness and back. Glen's knee was feeling better, so he joined us on this one. We had all six riders on the trail. We headed out of the campground and across the highway to the trailhead.
A sign threw us... from the maps we thought we'd have just under 10 miles each way to the edge of the wilderness. But the sign said bicycles permitted for the next 6.5 miles only.
The trail here was very different, really rocky in places, but still tacky dirt and loads of fun.
The views of South Park (Yes, there really is a South Park in Colorado!) were amazing, but we didn't see Kenny. Apparently they'd killed him. I could have sworn I saw Mr. Twig though...
There were several groves of aspens.
We climbed up to about 10,450', and had great views of the valley below.
Then it was a mile or so of super fun downhill. Straight as an arrow, downhill through a meadow.
We flew down this section at around 20-25 mph, though it felt so much faster... perhaps the thinner air.
We crossed a small creek, then climbed up to a dirt road, where another sign said bicycles allowed. It was obvious the signs didn't all quite jive with each other, since we were at 6.2 miles at this point.
Just around the bend was another sign that said bicycles allowed for the next 1.3 miles to the edge of Lost Creek Wilderness.
This section was a little steeper downhill, and fast. We came upon a gate, went through, and rode down to the edge of the wilderness.
Steve hit the invisible wilderness boundary, but wasn't able to penetrate:
Hans hiked in a left a note in the trail sign-in box.... "I sure wish we could ride this section."
We climbed back out and had a few drops of rain, but nothing too bad. There was rain in the distance though, and a few cracks of thunder. We wondered how everything would be back at camp.
We stopped at the top (though there wasn't any discernable peak) for a few minutes to take in the view. Heading back to camp it was nice to know that we had sunshowers heating up, our tents were set up. Phil and Mike made a spagetti dinner, even though it was early. We sat down to an early dinner (5:30?) and made plans for the following day....
Everyone was pleased that we were able to get out and see this section, but a little disappointed that the definitions in the wilderness act preclude bicycles. But we made the most of it and rode what we could.
The day ended up being 20.7 miles, 4042 feet of climbing, 2740 descending, with a maximum elevation of 10,434' (approx). Now tomorrow will be a real test... 32.9 miles and we expect over 6,000 feet of climbing, but with a starting elevation of 10,000'... The jump in the elevation profile was where we drove to Kenosha from the eastern edge of the wilderness.
The evening turned out to be a wet one. It is raining pretty heavily, with lightning flashes and thunder all around as I type this in Ed's truck...
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