Friday, July 19, 2013

Nederland to Crested Butte - Day 4

As with day 3 we started day 4 well ahead of where we'd initially planned. Rather then camp near Aspen, we had made it up to 11,300 feet in altitude along Pearl Pass. This made for a cold, crisp camping experience but a very nice outlook for out final day. Just 1,400 more feet of climbing to top the pass, then we're home free! Little did we know that what climbing remained was the toughest of the trip, and the first few miles of downhill on the other side was about as bad.

But first, I really enjoyed our last night of camping and we had a great spot, so I wanted to document it. We woke to some low lying clouds that obscured the pass we're about to cross. We'll actually be above these clouds looking down on top of them in a few hours:

We had a pretty good rainfall overnight starting at about 4:30 AM. I stayed warm and dry but not so my Waltworks. She's not complaining though:

Food first; tuna, a double-shot, and gel are all part of a complete breakfast:

Here's a representative example of what remained of our climb to Pearl Pass. Very slick, I actually got my only injury here while pushing the bike, I slipped and bashed my left knee and elbow. The bloodstains on my arm warmers weren't even visible through the filth  accumulated over the last few days without a shower or laundry service:

Once above 12,000 we're in the clouds we saw from camp:

The wild flowers up here were amazing, this picture does not do them justice. The wild flower festival people in CB won't be seeing these:

And finally, our highest point for the whole trip, Pearl Pass. Note there's a Left Hand Brewery sticker here, which is from my home town of Longmont. Pretty cool! Also note we're looking down on the clouds here:

The downhill to CB had some sections that had to be walked, softball to basket ball sized scree just can't be ridden safely, at least not when fatigued. Here's a section that we could ride, surfing on top of the rocks as much as rolling over them:

Once we got below tree line the trail really began to flow and we started to enjoy ourselves. There were several stream crossings, and we wisely decided early on to re-equip our Gortex socks. This allowed us to just tromp through water almost calf deep, no need to pick and choose where we stepped, and our feet stayed dry and warm:

Once we started seeing aspens we know we're close. Almost done, the first shower in 4 days is within reach!

Here's the wild flowers along Cement Creek Road everyone makes such a fuss about in July in Crested Butte:

We know we're in Crested Butte when we see this dad hauling his kid into town in a trailer along some of the ghetto single track near town. He was moving fast and the trailer was bouncing hard, but the kid clearly loved it:

We arrived in town at 12:30, just in time for lunch. We had a well-deserved lunch and beer (no pictures of this, dang it!), then we rode up to Mt. Crested Butte in the rain. Rob and I both had reservations at the resort, and our families were driving in later in the day. We checked in and got cleaned up so we could hug the family when they arrived.

And here's the final picture of the trip, the bike at the top of the final climb; the second floor of the Grand Lodge in Mt. Crested Butte. Good job, bike!


  1. Damn fine job sir. Wish I had been there for sure. Watching the spot with the overnight on pearl pass made my heart sink, but I was happy for you all to be there and have such and amazing trip! next time!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to post this David. Really interesting with great narrative and pictures!

  3. That's a heck of a ride Dave, and well executed.

    Nice work. Love the pictures.


  4. AmAzing ride!! You guys covered more miles than we did on the co trail, and we weren't c carrying all our stuff. Serious ridding. I want t o go next time!!

  5. Just getting caught up on this, but what an amazing trip. I admire your sense of adventure....and your fitness! Yikes, I'm worn out thinking about taking those heavy, loaded down bikes up and over all that climbing.