October, 2008 - Trip to Colorado

October 22 - (Wednesday) I flew to Denver. Great political story at the Dollar RentaCar office (to be typed up later).
I stayed that night in a Motel 6 on the west side of Denver. It was cool and windy. Brrrrrr.

October 23 - I got up early and headed west. Brrrr. It was even colder! There were icy roads up past the Eisenhower Tunnel.
I stopped for tea at a Starbucks in Dillon. I had my sandals on while walking across a frozen parking lot! It was 11°F.

The scenery from the Starbuck's parking lot in Dillon, CO
Making snow for the upcoming ski season
(at Breckenridge?)

Oh, but it got worse... It was 3°F on Vail Pass!
(Note: to avoid confusion for the non-western readers--this is at about 10,000' elevation at about 8 am.
When you see us biking, it's really between 50 and 70°F at about 5000' and during midday)

Thinking I had plenty of time to spare, I took a leisurely stop in Glenwood Springs for a few minutes.

I continued west daudling along. I was in no hurry. Except that I realized I'd be driving past Rulison.
I should visit the nuclear bomb site! It took stopping at several "visitor centers" to find someone who
knew where it was. I headed off, got lost, and eventually found my way. It's on private land right next
to the road. They fenced it off, said "No Tresspassing" but put up a sign right next to the plaque.

Now it was getting kind of late. I got to Fruita and picked up my bike from Over the Edge bike shop. I went
to go for a ride in the vicinity of the Kokopelli Trail. I got ready to ride, but I realized there was
one thing I was missing--water! Normally I always have water in my car, so it didn't register to me,
that while traveling I had to BUY it. So when I went off to the nearest convenience store and bought some,
then returned to the trail, the sun was dipping behind the horizon. So I rode the beginner Rustler Trail.
The first third was in reasonable light and pretty easy. The second third was getting dark.
Finally, the last bit was pretty darn dark--it kind make the easy trail a little more challenging!

I returned to Fruita and put up the tent at Colorado River State Park. I was worried because the only other
tent campers came and moved wheelbarrows full of logs to their site! But they weren't offensive afterall (whew!)

My niece, Allyson, showed up from Moab. We went for a slice of pizza, then back to bed. I had been
worried about the cold, as I wasn't sure my sleeping bag would be warm enough. Allyson brought me an extra bag.
Indeed I was quite cold that night.


October 24 - In the morning, we did our grocery shopping. Then we rode the Horsethief Bench trail.
At the beginning, Allyson was commenting on how the doubletrack to get there was good enough. "No Allyson! No!"
It wasn't long before she really got the hang of riding though. You could see quite an improvement from the start
to the end of the ride.

 

Poor Allyson--she looks a little like her Aunt Barbie.
Though I have learned two things from these pictures:
1) Get a red shirt, and 2) Strike a jaunty pose for pictures

8 seconds, 15.3MB MOVIE of Allyson riding the above section of trail

Original (needs 90° rotation)

Here, Allyson (circled) rides around the rim of a steep, partially overhanging drop-off.
Is it just me, or does it look like there are tire marks from bicyclists roaring down the rock
just left of the arrow?????

Allyson found a stone lounge chair:


October 25 - We stayed last night at the Field Camp for the Canyonlands Field Institute where Allyson works.
We stayed in a yert (SP?).

I maintain that this could be in contention for the world's most scenic outhouse:

 

 

 


October 25 - We tried to ride "Fins and Things" trail in the Sandflats area. But it
had so much boggy sand between hillocks of sandstone that we finally gave up.
We went to the Slickrock practice trail where Allyson had ridden several
times before. That's all we had time for before we had to head off to clean up
and go to the "Pumpkin Chuckin'."

 

Well, ya gotta know it was a busy day on the slickrock when you can just be
riding along and see fresh blood in a series of drops.


Pumpkin Chuckin'

I had no real notion who you have to get the angles just right. If you sling too soon,
your pumpkin will go flying too soon, get a lot of altitude, then just fall right back down.
But if you don't let go soon enough, your pumpkin will be launched straight down into the ground.

After the Pumpkin Chuckin' Allyson and I split up for a few minutes. I went shopping.
I didn't get too much except for Moab Cyclery had a WingNut hydration pack that I bought.
Friends had raved at how wonderful they were, so I got one.

Afterward, Jenna, Allyson and I headed to Allyson's friends for dinner. They were very friendly and supplied us with
huge amounts of yummy food. The most memorable part of the evening was that I'd burst their bubble.
None of them had heard of Snopes.com so we logged on and I proved to them that the Orca swamping the kayaker
was a hoax video. But all was not lost. Snope showed that it's TRUE that elephants can paint.


 


October 26 - We headed off for Amasa Back with is a mountain biking trail with a good reputation. It was great.
After crossing the wash, there is a long, long, long uphill double track that is rocky as heck. I walked up a lot of it.
No, I'm not in the greatest of shpae, but I suffered a lot from lack of oxygen. But I didn't care. It was beautiful trail.
We finally rounded a corner, then paralleled the margin of a cliff. I was a little nervous, but the road was wide enough

it wasn't too freaky. Eventually we made it to the top, then had a blast flying down the rocks for miles.

Boring, static picture of Barbie and Allyson after reaching a leveling off spot and where we overlooked a new valley.

Those crazy girls are acting up again.

Aren't they ever serious?

OK, so for once they act "normal."

I kept trying to explain "current parting lineations" to Allyson. If you look on a bedding plane,
you can see linear patterns in the way the rock breaks that tells the directions of the water flow.
This picture is oriented so the water/air would have flowed from down to up or vice versa
--unfortunately you can't detemine the from/to distinction.

This is an overview of the potash mine. I believe it's owned by Intrepid who also owns the mines
around Carlsbad (although Mosaic also has a Carlsbad mine). Mines tend to be bought and sold a lot,
so who knows who will be the owner in a few years.

 

While we road the Amasa Back trail, we didn't stop for pictures while riding. So at the top
while I had my camera out, I snapped this shot of a random rider so that I would have a picture
of an actually person on a bike. Wonder who he is?


Leaving Moab for Durango, one drives past "Hole n" the Rock"

Not too much farther down the road comes Wilson Arch


 

October 28 - We stopped on our field trip at the Edge of the Cedars museum in Blanding.
We got a special tour and got to see stuff that most visitors don't.


Click the photo below to go Edge of the Cedars Museum and field trip

 

Native American Song and Dance Performance

Click on the picture below to see more picture and get some video clips


October 30 - Before I left the Durango area, I went for a ride over near Cortez, CO. I went to the
"new" National Monument designated by Prez Clinton just as he left office. It's on BLM land. The trail was nice.
Not spectacular in terms of biking, but generally very good. The scenery was great, though not as spectacular
as parts of Moab. But to tie it all together was the fact that every time one turned around a bend, there was
another cliff dwelling. You put it all together and it was a fantastic ride. The weather was perfect and the fact
I only came across two other hiking couples, it was just fantastic.

There were pot sherds right along the trail. OK, so I moved the black on white sherd to be next
to the corrugated sherd. But both were right there <10 feet from the trail.


November 1 - I went for one final ride at Evergreen, CO. I'd read that the Three Sister's Trail was good.
I ended up riding to Evergreen Peak from the lower parking lot. Someone in the parking area recommended it to me.
It was technically pretty darn easy--almost boring. But the ride went from about 7500' to about 8500'!
I was surprised I could ride most of it. I must have acclimated just a little over the week such that
I only walked a portion of the route. Down was fun in a swoopy sort of way. Other cyclists said the trail
on the other side of the road was more challenging, but it turned out to be difficult.
Too many super sharp switchbacks with big rocks. Kinda like the top of Elizabeth Furnace in Virginia,
but closely spaced switchbacks. Otherwise, it was fun, fun, fun.

Here's a picture of an Abert squirrel that wasn't cooperating with me trying to get his picture!