Friday, August 01, 2008

To the moon and back

By the third day I was acclimating to the altitude. My head only slightly pounding, and the climbs were getting easier, or maybe I was getting used to tugging around 25 pounds of clothes, camp gear, water and food. My legs strong but lungs working overtime to compensate for the lack of O2 at eleven thousand feet above sea level. Much like breathing through a soda straw. I break to huff and puff and work the camera as Jeff climbs out of sight. I try and capture his deep blue shirt against a carpet of lush green grass speckled with a rainbow of wild flowers but his whirling has propelled him out of sight.
That brutha's on fire! I thought. My attempts to capture his deep blue shirt were all for not as he climbs to a new level on the swicthbacks on his way to 12,200 feet. Glenn throws him self at Kokamo pass in an attempt to catch the Gazelle. (Jeff's - new nick name is The Gazelle). Glenn is having an exceptional day in the climber's seat. He and Jeff are far above Tim and myself as we use our cameras for an excuse to stop every five minutes for a photo op. With every pedal stroke the view becomes more like a painting. We break for lunch, peanut butter on a bagel on top of Kokomo Pass. The view is beyond spectacular. The reward we sought after full filled; an eye full as far as the naked eye can possibly see. The long trip from Friso, up and over Copper Mountain and through the flowered valley was worth every minute.
I ask Tim, "what are the reddish deposits in the snow?" The Geologist replies "bacteria, I think..." As we stand atop Elk Ridge we see in the distance Jeff near the snow melt, capturing the icy cold runoff and chugging it down. We close in, and I'm out of water so I ask Jeff, "how's the bacteria?" He looks confused and then realizes what I might be referring to. He hands me the bottle and I fill up. Lucky for us, no side affects.
The seven days on the trail were simply about enjoying our unfamiliar surroundings and marveling at the mountainous landscape. Waking early to ride 10 hours a day on trails and through the western towns and of course to take advantage of every hamburger joint they had to offer.

It's 75 degrees on top and I hit the front brake hard in an attempt to intentionally dump my ride. Is this snow real? One way to find out... I layed in the soft snow for an extra moment letting the cold sink in to my leg. Topping out for the second time on the Continental Divide, we would cross it for a total of three times during our seven days.

Struggling seven miles up a highway to the Monarch Crest Trail was a detour we choose from segment 14 to end our trip on the C.T. The Crest trail was a blast. Winding around the tall dome shaped mountains, the trail's momentum was a relief to tired legs having little uphill climbing and mostly bombing descents. Dipping into small valleys in the early morning before the sun warmed the heavy clouds, we scared up a slumbering pack of elk. They leaped to their feet and dashed down the mountain with little regard for their safety. Lunging down steep drops and spanning craggy gaps, in seconds they were a quarter mile from where they were bedded down. Sorry guys.

At the bottom of the Monarch Crest Trail were two options, a single track named the Rainbow trail or an eighteen mile decent to the town of Poncho Springs, or more accuratly the down hill road to food and beer. We chose food and beer.


wraith said...


Jason said...

outstanding. I miss the epic rides in the west. thanks for sharing your adventure.


Tim said...

How did you link the sections? When did you arrive in Durango?

Andy said...

hey Tim.

We gave it a good shot but only made it to the Monarch Crest Trail after segment 14. At our rate of travel we would have been in Durango by Christmas :)
Now we have a good reason to go back and pick up where we left off.
It was good to meet you. Those were some spicy hot wings!


rick is! said...

very nice. musta been a blast!

Thom P. said...

Outstanding! Magnificent!
Wow! That is some good stuff.
I want a shirt that says:
"Choose Food and Beer".
Sort of like George Michael's "Choose Life" shirt.