Thursday, May 31, 2012

SBFL Errand Running

Tuesday I took the day off. It's rare that I get a 4-day weekend, and I needed one. And of course, there was the matter of a necessary errand to be performed for the Salida Big Friggin' Loop. So I rode up there.

Plan A was to take a new route over into Bassam Park based on some topo map scouting. I saw a road that appeared to skirt around the east side of Aspen Ridge. I have done that climb to Aspen Ridge from the Salida side enough times, especially this year. It's kind of yucky.

So I was looking forward to having a new way over there, and a nice lollipop loop looked better than an out-and-back to Futurity (where I needed to be to perform my preparation task). I took my right turn following the GPS line I'd loaded. Beautiful road. When I was maybe half a mile in a truck pulling a horse trailer past me, and the folks in that truck gave me the once over. I wondered if I had some body part inadvertently hanging out. They drove on past, but in another mile or so I came to a locked gate with no trespassing signs all over it, and they were parked on the other side of it, presumably waiting to be sure I didn't climb the fence.

Private land. Meh.

I turned around and then climbed over Aspen Ridge. Meh.

In futurity I did a little art and craft project, creating from simple materials some highly collectible tchotchkes which I hid in a place to be revealed to the long course riders. Possessions of one of these little talismans will grant the SBFL bearer a time credit which could change their standings. And they are beatiful, magical little artifacts. The Franklin Mint would love to be hawking these bad boys on the shopping channel.

Futurity is a cool little place. Fun to imagine what kind of tiny community it was back in its mining days.

Saw a bear on my way back. I was doing the slow grinding climb back up to Aspen Ridge. I saw movement to my right, and there was a medium-sized bear ambling up the slope toward the road. We were on intersecting paths. He was less than 50 feet away when I saw him, stopped, and put a foot down. He apparently had not noticed me when I was rolling, but when I stopped he looked up at me, turned on his heel and took off back from where he'd come.

No time to get the camera. Cool to see him, not sure I've ever been that close to one in the wild!

 I was pleased that after resting only one day from my 70 mile ride from Salida to BV and back I was able to do another big ride (45 miles and 6,250 ft of climbing) with really a pretty reasonable amount of energy and staying power. Maybe I'll be finishing the SBFL!

SBFL course review Part I

Late spring, summer approacheth. Also, for me, the Salida Big Friggin' Loop approacheth. I'm trying to get fit, and by golly there's nothing that feeds my soul like getting up early and riding from my house into the high mountains to spend all day up there.

Sunday May 27 I did such a thing. I rode up to Blanks Cabin. On the way I tried to capture the beauty of a horse pasture with a field of alfalfa being irrigated in the background under the sun rising higher into the sky. Ah.

Then I got up onto Forest Road 252 and climbed up to jump on the Colorado Trail at Blanks Cabin.


The first mile or so of trail from there is quite brutal, mostly hike-a-bike, but then you get into the smooth narrow traverse at roughly 10,000 feet that's among the best singletrack in Chaffee County.


It's Real, real purty.


The plan for the day, and the plan for the SBFL, is to continue past Chalk Creek on the lovely Mt. Princeton section of the CT.

Climbing from the hot springs up to the continuation of the CT gutted me. Won't be any easier in 10 days when the SBFL happens, but hopefully I'll be slightly fitter than I was Sunday. Took me almost 8 hours to get to BV. Late lunch at Punky's then a tough ride on the highway with holiday weekend RV traffic back home.

I rode 72 miles, left the house at 6:30 and got home around 4. Just shy of 7,000 ft of climbing.

Good day, but hard. But good.

Monday, May 21, 2012

June in May

little trickle crick
Took my first ride on the Silver Creek to 285 section of the Rainbow on Saturday. No new pictures. I already have hundreds of shots of the various pretty parts of that trail from the various times of year when I have ridden it. I'd have to say it's my favorite local trail.

It could be July up there peoples--other than that the aspen leaves are still brand-new lime green and the creek crossings are just a little bit up. Sunday Kathy and I rode the other Salida section of the Rainbow, the Bear Creek bit, though we just looped back down; a little routine known as Cali Loop. Took the above photo of a little creek found at the site of a button-hook turn about midway across from Bear to Methodist.

The May 20 that was a June 10.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Riding through Feta Cheese

Sunday I was sore from trailwork Saturday. Got a slow start drinking coffee and making old man noises every time I had to get up from my chair. But the day was beautiful, kissed with a good solid batch of moisture from a late afternoon rain. 

Clouds were starting to build, so I decided I better do something if I was going to do anything. I rode up into the Arkansas Hills, North Backbone Trail out to Ute Trail and up to do the Cottonwood loop.

There were some kind of sinister-looking clouds up the road, so I mustered as much energy as I could to keep it going. One of the clouds was drifting west to east into my path. When I was about halfway up the 40 minutes of Ute Trail to the turn-off, little rectangular pellets of graupel (I've been calling it graffle for years--thank you wikipedia!) starting falling, hundreds of feet apart.

As I continued to climb, they kept getting a little bigger and a little closer together. 

When I turned off onto 181 they started being a little more like a snow storm than like a thin shower of confetti. Usually I see graupel as little balls, like the styrofoam scraps that fall out if you tear hard styrofoam apart. But these were rectangular/angular. And now they were starting to be bigger. By the time I was on the jeep road to the Cottonwood turnoff, they were falling thick and accumulating. They reminded me of the chunks of feta cheese you would see on your greek salad. Every size between tiny and as big as the end of your thumb.

I didn't take any pictures of that funny graupel. I was really thinking that forward motion was a better idea than stopping to take pictures, especially since I was wearing a cotton t-shirt and shorts. The shell was in my pack and I would have stopped to put it on if I'd gotten any colder, but the leg warmers were home. I also was out of water. 

My preparation for this ride wasn't stellar--I blame the trail work.

As usual, the weather was milder once I got into the bottom of Cottonwood Gulch. And then I rode out of it entirely. The sun was shining brightly when I rolled past this blooming claret cup near the bottom.


claret cup

Ah, Springtime in the Rockies. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Trail Project!

The good people at Salida Mountain Trails have started the Little Rainbow Extension project. It will be a little over 3 miles of hand-build trail to complement the nearly 7 miles of machine-built trail that comprises today's Little Rainbow, part of the Methodist Mountain Trail System south of Salida.

I was asked to crew lead, so it was time to find the gloves and gnarly old carhartts and get out there to dig some bench and raise some dust.

I really like the alignment of this trail. This may turn out to be the woodsiest trail of the local Salida low-elevation trail systems.

Here's a scraped out gully that was full of pine cones. 

Needs to be a bench...

And there's a bench.

A selection of photos from on down the new trail:

About a half mile of new out of 20 or so volunteers. Good productive day!