16 October 2015

Stardate 2015.792

On Borrowed Time

Autumn greetings! I managed to play hooky several days ago to savor the beautiful fall weather that had settled in. The Black Pearl and I decided to go to Frisco, Colorado, to visit a difficult portion of the Colorado Trail (CT) that we have not been on. The aspen leaves in Frisco are at peak color and leaves of most of the aspen groves at higher elevations are gone. Nonetheless, a few holdouts may be found.

Segment 7 of the CT is only 12.8 miles in length. However, the route is rocky and loose and tops out in the clouds at 12,500 feet. In a nutshell, Segment 7 of the CT shares real estate with Gold Hill, Miners Creek and Wheeler trails.

From Frisco, my goal was to ride up the Peaks Trail to the Gold Hill Trail. Then I planned to continue up Gold Hill (I'm on the CT now) to an old, isolated, Miners Creek trailhead where I planned to ascend Miners Creek to high alpine riding along the ridgecrest of the northern Tenmile Range. After several miles of tundra riding, a westerly descent down the Wheeler Trail would deposit me at the Copper Mountain Ski Station, and I'd return to my car via the Tenmile Range bike path. Confused? So am I. Following are a handful of pics.

The ride up the Peaks Trail was not difficult, albeit loose in places. Views of 12,933-foot Tenmile Peak (left) and 12,805-foot Peak 1 seized my attention at every clearing. Yes, there are a lot of dead trees. This particular region has been hammered by beetle kill. I'll leave beetle kill alone for now, as I'm a bit opinionated on this infestation.

I only made about 4 of the 6.5 miles to the Wheeler Trail. The rumor mill had ground out information that this horrible (for bikes) portion of the CT was extremely steep, rocky and loose and not too enjoyable. QUITE CORRECT! Although, in hindsight, I enjoyed the day. This also may have been the most difficult day I've had on a mountain bike. I'm confident I pushed the Black Pearl as much as I rode, literally. Coming down was difficult as well, but somewhat ridable. The trail ascends the fall line – straight up! Oh well, it means I get to go back. However, I'll likely start in Copper Mountain when I do.

Entering the subalpine ecosystem of spruce forest

Nights are getting cool

Treeline and the east shoulder of 12,866-foot Peak 4

Note the small trees on Peak 3's eastern ramparts; they're small because they're trying to make a living in an avalanche run-out zone.

I had to be back in the Denver metro area by 6:00. Once I figured how slow the riding would be, I picked 2:00 as my turn around time. I missed my overall goal by about an hour. Although the trail was becoming more ridable, the altitude would begin take a toll on climbing. My altitude at turn-around was about 11,500 feet, 1,000 feet lower than my planned high point. An uneventful drive home put me back in town on time.

That's it for now. Thanks for perusing...


1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous area! Thank you for taking me up today to show me the bird's-eye view of where you rode! What a climb, and how neat that you were able to see a few aspens still quaking!


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