8/1-2/2015
Colorado Trail Segments 14 – 17. Chalk Creek to Highway 114.
68.8 miles, 12,280 ft (gps showed 77.4 miles and 13,475 ft)
Me and John

Day 1: Chalk Creek to Marshall Pass (and down to camp). 42.7 miles, 7,642 ft, 9hrs 25mins.CT2015a.jpg (362830 bytes)
Day 2: Marshall Pass to Highway 114. 34.7 miles, 5,833 ft, 8hrs 25mins.

The final chapter of my 10 year project to run/hike/bike the entire Colorado Trail. John was on-board for another arse-whoopin, Eric was on-board but had to bail, and Guy was a 15% chance of making it. Jean, Miles, and I drove out towards Salida on Friday in hopes of camping at O’Haver Lake. It CT2015b.jpg (492062 bytes)was full so we found a spot right up the road and continued with the usual camping fun and gathering firewood.

On Saturday morning Jean drove me, John, our bikes and packs to Chalk Creek TH just beyond Princeton Hot Springs. They would have a day of fun while we tortured ourselves in the name of fun. Right off the bat we had a decent climb that reminded me I hadn’t been on my bike in a while and that riding theCT2015c.jpg (442535 bytes) entire CT with camping gear would suck. Ride, sweat, get off, push, repeat. We traversed along the trail for a few miles going in and out of drainages with 13ers and 14ers to the west. The miles were very slowly ticking away and after 4.5hrs and 20 miles we were dropping down to Highway 50, finished with the first segment.

Three miles of pedaling up a dirt road later we took a break at Fooses Creek to eat and fill up our CamelBaks knowing we had a huge climb coming up. The trail was really nice here and gently ascended toward the Continental Divide. It was raining, but it felt great to help cool down. The sides of the trail were incredibly lush with vegetation from the last few months of monsoon rain. Climb climb climb climb, push push push push. A few hours later we broke above treeline and could see a little sign up on the bare saddle that we had to get to. The trail was loose and steep, and it just plain sucked at times. I got up there first and took a bunch of pictures then took a quick jog up point 12,195 since it was “just right there”. John CT2015d.jpg (419246 bytes)made it, cursing up a storm of unenjoyment. The next several miles was fun riding along the Divide with views for miles around, eventually dropping us onto a jeep road and to Marshall Pass, finishing up this segment in 4.5hrs also. From here it was about 8 miles of downhill on the road to camp. Exhausted and hungry, we grilled up dinner and had a campfire while listening to how much more fun Jean and Miles had. Since our time estimate was way off, we would get an earlier start on Sunday.

Sunday morning finds us at Marshall Pass at 7am ready for another “fun” day of riding. We would stay mostly above 11,000ft and wanted to beat the storms andCT2015e.jpg (406023 bytes) hopefully finish at a decent time before the long drive home. The first few miles were quite enjoyable cruising along jeep roads leading to trails and staying up along the Divide. As expected there was nothing but short climbs followed by short descents. The trail got increasingly rocky and even made the flat parts harder to ride. The forest was beautiful and there were quite a few trees that had literally exploded from lightning. Dropping down to Tank Seven Creek it should’ve been easier riding, but the meadow was nothing but bumpy, muddy, cow-pie filled narrow trail. Then came the CT2015g.jpg (340243 bytes)cows, tons of them! Slowly climbing up towards Sargents Mesa this 20 mile segment ends in the middle of nowhere, after 3hrs and 45mins for us. We took a break and I walked the 100ft to the summit of Sargents Mesa, since it was just right there. A fun downhill followed by a rocky and spine-rattling downhill then cruising through forests and along the rocky trails. Then starts the thunder, followed by a light rain, followed by hail… lots of hail. Fortunately we were mostly descending from Middle Baldy and staying ahead of the storm. Every time John hit his rear brakes, his rear tire would become dismounted, and he would have to stop and fix it. There seemed to be no easy fix, so he just stopped using his rear brake…. Not ideal, but it worked. UpCT2015j.jpg (156592 bytes) down, up down, up down, then the cruelest joke of the day…. Two last steep long climbs up minor 11K peaks, just to descend them again. With just a few miles remaining we had a ball on the downhill switchbacks that lead to Lujan Creek Road and a couple miles of fast downhill to Highway 114. This segment took 4.5hrs and we got to the trailhead just minutes ahead of Jean and Miles. A nice 41st birthday present to myself to finish this sucker off.

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