Sunday, June 21, 2009

Snow and blow-downs

Got up to Marshall Pass for another recon, having heard that rumors that people have been soldiering through the melting snow and blow-down trees to get to the top of the Silver Creek Trail and ride that down to the Rainbow.

I felt that I deserved to share that experience.

Climbing to Marshall this morning was a challenge and a privilege. Nice brisk headwind up 285 toward Poncha Pass had me working it on the pavement. Then I hit the dirt Marshall Pass Road which was beautiful, cool, and green. It rained almost all day yesterday--so it was also mashed-potato mushy. It was work, but so nice to be up there!

I got to Marshall at about 10:30 AM. I headed south on the CDT, following some fresh dirtbike tracks. The dirt bikers came out to meet me as I was heading in. They seemed to have figured out that they were not supposed to be on the non-motorized trail. I didn't really say anything to them, I was just in too good a mood to bitch at them. They were heading back to the trailhead anyway, no biggy.

I got up into the trees and started seeing drifts.

This was the biggest one--mandatory walkover pretty much.

But most were on the decline. And unlike my last exploration, they were soft and melty. I took some time to stamp rideable lines into some of the ones that people were still going around.

Then I started encountering blow-down trees on the trail. No problem, I have my hand saw. I just cleared them as I went. I expected to find something that I needed a chainsaw for, but it never materialized.

Antora, south of the headwaters of Silver Creek. Still plenty of snow on it...

I stopped at the spot overlooking Silver Creek that I call the lunch spot and chowed down on some phewd, a Pro Bar, which I enjoyed thanks to the courtesy of a passing rep at the bike shop who left a whole box of them for us shop flunkies. They are pretty tasty! But free food always tastes the best.

Silver Creek Trail was really in hard shape. Very rutted, very rocky. It did NOT winter over very well. It's a really pretty trail, but man is it routed badly in many places. It's just too susceptable to erosion. Gonna be a rough ride this summer.

I kept up the tree clearing, though it wasn't nearly as big a deal as it was back in '07 when I cleared it. Just one log was chainsaw-worthy, but I got creative with the hand saw and got it out.

Pretty big aspen log for my little folding hand saw (see the little darling perched on top of my nemesis?

Afterwords, nice and clear.

The Rainbow was fast and tacky thanks to yesterday's rain. I was tired though. I was out there a long time with all the stopping to cut trees and all the free-Pro-Bar eating.

Great day. Consider Marshall Pass to Silver Creek open folks. By next weekend it should be pretty much dry.


Gary B. said...

Hi Tom- it feels really good to be back in the high country doesn't it?

What kind of hand saw are you using and would you buy it again? Have you tried a pocket chainsaw? I'm supposed to be getting one from the FS for a trail we have adopted. Only two downed trees on this trail are chainsaw worthy but there are many that need some sort of hand saw. BTW, we had to take CPR/first aid and chainsaw certification classes through the FS to legally be able to cut on their trails.

Tom Purvis said...

Hey Gary,

My saw is no big deal. It's a Corona, and I think I got it at Home Despot a few years ago for $30-40. A friend of mine has some German or Swedish thing that's all high tech and what-all. I'm sure it's better than mine, but mine works. I lose stuff too often to invest in family heirloom-quality tools.

Re: saw certification, I operate under don't ask, don't tell. Nobody gave me a saw to use, so I just quietly take mine up, look both ways, and then get to work. Those saw classes are lengthy, and not easy to get into...