Well, here is where the going got tough and we felt the full force of Imogene Pass. Above 12,500 ft we were tired and out of breath and the terrain became very loose. In the next picture you see Chris pulling his bike up and the previous Jeep Tourists heading up to help us. Chris had only dropped his bike because I just had a nice fall on a critical section of the trail.
At this part I was clawing my way up on the right side (you can see my tire tracks) to avoid the large rocks on the inside. Much to my surprise the trail took a sharp left with more rocks and I couldn't find a line. I stupidly stopped to try and find a line and immediately started sliding backwards. My front brake was locked and I couldn't get on my rear brake to help stop the bike (I must have been panicking because I didn't let off the clutch until it was too late). My wheels were inches away from the edge of the small cliff and I was seriously worried about going over, I dumped it on the left side on purpose to stop sliding further back.
Now I was on the hill, looking back at Chris and the Jeep guys, breathing heavily and wondering how we were going to continue. They helped me get the bike up and gave me some tips on how to approach the steep corner. I resigned to power walking the bike up around the corner (I think that was the only time I had to power walk the bike during the trip) and waited for Chris.
I have to give props to Chris for putting up with my lack of serious riding skills and my hesitation in these situations. He never expressed frustration or threatened to continue without me (unlike some other people I have ridden with). Without his help and persuasion I may not have continued to complete trails such as Imogene or Black Bear... and I am very glad we did press on!
I do most of my riding solo so I am always thinking about having an "out". A close call on my NM/TX trip taught me a valuable lesson... don't go through obstacles you can't come back over. My route had taken me into a military zone I wasn't allowed to cross and I was trying to re-route myself in the middle of nowhere. I saw a major road less than 2 miles from my location and took a small dirt road in that direction. It rapidly deteriorated and soon I was bouncing down ledges thinking "It is really close I can make it!". The road ended where the valley caved in and I spent almost two hours back tracking the 1/2 mile in the dark... dropped the bike three times, loading and unloading it etc. But with a riding buddy we can go anywhere since the two of us can pull the big bikes over obstacles and help each other out to reduce fatigue.
This is what met us at the top of the hill... it is hard to see how big the rocks are. Chris went ahead to scout it out and I soon followed his line, letting my suspension do its thing. I had hit many large rocks so far and the tires and tubes have held up great!