Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ALL THE PICTURES From the Tail End of the CO, UT Trip

The tail end of my epic 3 week journey from Denver to SLC and back over and over consisted of a day in Denver with my adorable niece and nephew, hitting Monarch Crest Trail, and a short ride in Crested Butte before the long long drive back to Salt Lake for the last time. I fly home in a few hours, where I will send two days repacking my life before heading to Mammoth for Nationals.

A quick recap of the last two days of riding in beautiful, colorful Colorado.

Early Monday morning I hit the road to get from Denver area to Salida to jump on the 10 am Monarch Crest shuttle. I decided on Sunday afternoon that although I have already ridden Monarch Crest, I wanted to do it again, very last minute (the theme of this trip). The drive was incredibly pretty, with sweeping views of 14,000ft mountains, and high country meadows... I wanted to take pictures the whole time.
No complaints about driving for a few hours when the views are like this the whole time. 
I got to the shuttle just in time, and was on the trail by 10:40am. This point to point trail is my #1 favorite ride. The shuttle drops you off around 11,900ft and the first 10 miles hug the ridgeline with unbelievably good views of the surrounding mountains, alpine meadows, and trees for days. Some sections dip into the forest on tacky, smooth single track lined in bright green, just to pop back out above treeline for more breathtaking views.
This is my heaven, wet dirt and trees, plus this trail flows like no other!
A section above treeline just before heading back into the forest. 
There was lightening in the forecast for 1pm, so I was a little rushed to get below tree line before the storm. I have heard a few horror stories in the past two weeks about the dangers of getting hit by lightening...

Near the end of the Continental Divide section of trail. Made me want to race the entire Continental Divide really badly!
After staying super high up for about an hour, the trail finally descends 1,000ft or so on this ridiculously fun techy trail littered with rocks, roots and swoopy turns. I was alone, but couldn't help pinning it down this portion of trail because if felt like the Scalpel was made to dip, weave, float over and sometimes smash through the rocks and roots. I was beaming and cheering by myself in the forest for quite some time :) I probably yelled 'It's the best day' and 'I'm so happy right now' 20 times...

Post techy fun descent there is smooth, fast trail through wildflowers and meadows. 
And then you get to hit Rainbow trail! This is another seriously fun portion of the ride, but sadly for me my rear tire had a small gash that wouldn't seal on it's own. As a result I had to baby my rear wheel/keep stopping to put air in the tire for the second half of the ride. I still had a lot of fun, got hit by some cold heavy rain, rode through a river for a while and popped out for the last section of trail with more sweeping views and wildflowers.
Stoked out of my mind about the views and what an incredible ride I just experienced. 
Fortunately the rain didn't last long, my tire eventually held enough air to get me back to the car (without putting a tube in it), and my two hard crashes didn't damage my bike/body enough to prevent me from finishing the ride. I did cough myself silly on the 5 mile pavement cruise back to the car, my lungs don't like altitude + allergies. 

I pretty much immediately threw my filthy body/bike straight into the car and headed to Salida to get some plugs for my tires/a quick service of my drivetrain post ride. Being on the road solo for so long means not really taking care of my bike like I should, so I figured spending a little $$ on some TLC for Scalpel would probably go a long way. We hit Absolute Bikes in Salida, and they BLEW me away with the incredibly fast, friendly and thorough service. The boy I talked to took the tires off my rims to look for the puncture!!! I didn't even ask him to do that! And they definitely could have charged me twice as much and I would have thought it reasonable. PLUS he worked on my bike right after I dropped it off, so that a few hours later (which I spent writing about the Firecracker and drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee) my bike was ready! Another super friendly boy helped me figure out where to ride in Crested Butte the next day, and I was back on the road to find a camping spot in the rain. 

The drive from Salida to Crested Butte also took my breath away/cause me to pull over multiple times to take pictures. I'm pretty much only writing this blog post because I feel the desperate need to share how incredibly beautiful Colorado is with the world.

It rained a lot on my last three days of adventure. Being from drought ridden CA, I rather liked the rain :)
I arrived in Crested Butte at dusk, and the moody/cloudy sky made the scenery even more magical. I honestly think CB is the prettiest place I have even been. The landscape is so dramatic, and green!
Snowy mountains in the distance. 
My plan was to drive out on Washington Gulch road and look for a camp site on National Forest land. Thankfully I got there with enough time before the rain that I was able to set up my tent and climb in! The meadow I camped in was full of other campers, so although I was camping alone again, it wasn't as scary as in Fruita!
Wildflowers EVERYWHERE! 
In the am I woke up early and rode for a few hours on some pretty fun/technical trails. It would have been nice to have had more time to explore, but I did get to see an epic amount of flowers, aspen trees, snowy peaks, and sweeping views on my short ride. At one point I was in a meadow and there were pink, blue, purple, red, orange and yellow flowers in every direction. It was magical, and my cell phone camera couldn't begin to capture the beauty!
Looking down on Mount Crested Butte from Snodgrass Trail. This town was seriously adorable!

Aspen trees so dense you can't see past the white trunks. 
Sweet, smooth, perfect trails... 
Post ride I grabbed coffee and an egg sandwich (I'm obsessed right now), and hit the road to get to SLC by 6pm. I didn't really realize when planning this trip that this leg of the drive would be 7.5 hours, so that kinda sucked. It was pretty enough though, and there were two huge rain storms, so overall I would say it was a great day! 

I have about 100 more pictures, but maybe it's better if you just go there yourself and see all the pretty things! I'm sad to be ending this long, beautiful trip this afternoon, but more adventures are on the horizon!

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