Damn it. Work always gets in the way of a timely ride report. Where were we? Oh, yeah. DAY THREE. A day of MUCH ADVENTURE!!!!
Here is a snapshot of our intended route -- a mix of new stuff and some "best of" sections from other rides. We would not adhere to this plan for long:
During our evening around the fire, we discovered that Ikes Canyon was actually the beginning of one of my alternate routes through the mountains, so we decided to continue on up the canyon on our way north towards Austin. In the Benchmark guide, this road is called the "Old Freight Route". Not sure I would be taking any freight this direction!
All packed up.
The route up the canyon is spectacular, in fact this is now on my list of all time favorites. Awesome scenery, some challenging climbs, and a long run a long the ridge line with views down into the valleys on either side.
As the elevation climbed, we were soon in stands of Aspen.
We then started climbing a series of switchbacks, offering a view into the valley we had just come up:
We started to get concerned about the altitude, as we were now at about 9600', and we had encountered snow drifts on Ophir the day before just below 10,000'. And...sure enough...another blocking snow drift!
While there was no way around this one up or down, it was small and we decided to carve a way through. Don begins to dig:
Greg and Dano really got into it:
While they all dug, I walked around and took pictures of stuff :) :
After about 30 minutes, we had carved a nice trench in the snow and were ready to walk the bikes across. Don first:
I could tell by the look in Danny's eye that he was not going to be content with simply paddling his bike through while we all helped push. He attempted a full power run:
It didnít work:
We resumed a more conservative approach and got all of us up and over.
Freedom from snow and the summit now in sight. From there we dropped down into an area called Stoneberger basin:
I seem to be somewhat immune to downhills, or am just have a bad memory (I didnít recall Jefferson pass as being bad). Most of the crew thought this was a real scare -- steep, silty, with a huge rut in the middle. We were concerned we would not be able to climb back out if turned around by snow again. Keep that thought it mind. It will come into play later that morning!
Don on the last part of the hill. This is with a 400mm telephoto. Itís a steep sucker.
Being in the lead means sitting around a lot. So I took pictures of some of the vegetation in the basin. Cool stuff:
After a series of steep accents, we crested and started to ride along the ridgeline north. I stopped and waited again, taking just a few pictures of the scenes from the top:
Don was behind me and we sat for quite a while taking in the view waiting for the others to catch up. Nothing. Wait some more. Nothing. Finally, we turned on our radios and Don headed back south while I waited some more.
Finally I got the call from Don. Change in plansÖ.