The forecast was for high and dry conditions in the high country. This meant a break in the monsoonal moisture that was keeping everything green and wildflowers prolific. Better yet, the sun would be abundant! In a nutshell, there would be tundra riding at elevation, with a minimal risk of being electrocuted by Zeus.
I chose to ride the northern part of Segment 8 of the Colorado Trail (CT). On this route, the CT traverses the lower slopes of Copper Mountain Ski Area to Guller Creek on the west side of the resort. The trail then leaves civilization and ascends beautiful Guller Creek to treeline, where it climbs up to Searle Pass. From where I started, the day would be an out-and-back of about 20 miles with a high point of 12,050 feet. The ride would be approximately 95 percent trail – single track.
Bring on the alpine!
Copper Mountain ski runs were awash in color.
Ski area color up close
The Guller Creek Trail (Colorado Trail) ascends to broad basins below 12,545-foot Sugarloaf Peak.
At treeline the hill slope was awash in red and orange Indian paintbrush.
My favorite ecosystem! I even had tea with Julie Andrews. You're jealous, I can tell!
Looking north from 12,050-foot Searle Pass
Looking southeast at the Tenmile Range from Searle Pass.
Looking north at the Gore Range from Searle Pass.
Westerly view from below Searle Pass
View across Tenmile Creek of several Tenmile Range Peaks from the south side of Searle Pass. Left to right: Pacific Peak (13,950 ft, state rank # 61), Atlantic Peak (13,841 ft, rank # 86), Quandary Peak (14,265 ft, rank # 13) and Fletcher Mountain (13,951 ft, rank # 59). Quandary Peak is the background peak between Atlantic Peak and Fletcher Mountain.
Janet's Cabin, part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association rentals (backcountry ski hut). The cabin was built in 1990. The rather nice shelter sleeps 20, has solar power and a wood sauna. The fee is $38 per head per night. On the other hand, it's a bit too social for my liking.
Years ago, the World War II 10th Mountain Division winter trained throughout this area prior to being deployed to Italy and mountain warfare during World War II.
The north side of Searle Pass
Back to civilization, the ski area, evening hikers and the drive home.