2011/09/24-25
Colorado Trail Segment 8 bike 'n bivy. 
48 miles, 5950 ft
Me, Eric, Guy, John

Day 1: Copper Mtn to Vail Pass to Red Cliff to Camp Hale. 30 miles, 2870ft. 4hrs 45mins.
Day 2: Camp Hale to Copper Mtn. 18 miles, 3080ft. 6hrs 10mins.

Link to pictures

Our yearly "kill-yourself-athon" had us meeting at Copper Mtn on Saturday evening. We had a beer and grub at Mulligan's while catching up with each others lives. Eric had a great point.... we see each other for one 24hr adventure per year, which averages out to about 2hrs per month, not bad! The plan was to bike up Vail Pass, along Shrine Mtn Pass Road to Red Cliff, up Tennessee Pass, bivy in Camp Hale, then Camp Hale back to Copper on the Colo Trail. 9:15pm, and we were leaving the cars with bike-lights blazing (whoever's light burned out first had to buy the first round of beers later). The Vail Pass bike path was easy to find and the climb was easier then I remember during the Triple Bypass years ago. It only took 45mins to cover the ~6miles. Plenty of joking around and laughs. After some poking around at the rest area, we found Shrine Mtn Pass road which quickly slowed our speed down and warmed us up since it was a steeper dirt road with several switchbacks. I'm not sure how long it took, but we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves at the 11,090ft Shrine Pass where we suited up with most of our layers of clothes and joked around about Guy buying a loaf of bread just for the bread bag to cover his feet. The chilly and long descent was fun but much slower by headlamp then it would've been in daylight. Plenty of pot holes that were jumping out seconds before hitting them. Our "self adjusting headlamps" bounced themselves straight down and John's panniers kept moving up preventing him from pedaling. Miles were easily ticking by and after about 2.5hrs we were in Red Cliff. High Rd got us to Highway 24 and we turned south towards Tennessee Pass. This climb was surprisingly easier then expected and mostly middle chain ring, a few cars passed and gave us plenty of room. We were debating about going all the way up to Tennessee Pass or cutting over to Camp Hale. Fortunately, we missed the Camp Hale turn and kept going up. John was about at the end of his biking energy for the night and after plenty of stops looking at the map, we found a road to cut over to just 3 miles shy of Tennessee Pass. I wanted to continue, but it would've been stupid for us to split up. Soon after, we found where the CT intersects the road and we continued down towards Camp Hale. Mtn biking single track at 1am is quite interesting. After a few miles the trail crossed the East Fork of the Eagle River and right in front of us were the concrete remains of a long row of ammo depots or barracks. Looked like a great bivy spot for us! We kicked the broken bottles and dirt out of a couple of them and crawled into our bivy sacks and sleeping bags around 2am. It was a cold mofo of a night! Guy quickly started snoring which kept Eric awake, so like a good friend.... he recorded the sound with his iPhone. John was up most of the night shivering since he brought just a bivy and warm clothes, and I tossed and turned with a few intermittent hours of sleep. Laying on my back the concrete was sucking the warmth out of me, yet lying on my side was incredibly uncomfortable. Up at 6am, the sky started getting light around 6:45am, and I broke out the pre-cooked bacon. Aaahhhh, life is good. Packing up and trying to stay warm had us back on the bikes at 7:20am. We rode through the cold valley then started the 5 mile climb towards Kokomo Pass. Thank goodness we did not stay at the East Fork CG because there seemed to be 9,000 sled dogs barking there. Some of the steeper climbs were hike-a-bike and seemed like they would be tough to ride down also. Once the sun finally hit us it felt great and we could strip off a couple layers. 1000ft, 2000ft, climb climb climb, push drag carry, and riding whatever sections that we could. Above treeline we could see 12,022ft Kokomo Pass in the distance and Eric and I would hit it right at 2.5hrs. Great views all around and just a slight chilly breeze. Since it was going to be awhile until Guy and John joined us, we consulted the map and decided to do the quick hike to the summit of 12,420ft N. Sheep Mtn. Timing was perfect and we got back to the pass just after Guy and John topped out, though Guy did have enough time to sneak a couple of rocks into our backpacks. Just another half mile of climbing then the riding really got fun. In and out of drainages and contouring below Elk Ridge all above treeline. Just a couple more short climbs and we were at 12,040ft Searle Pass with nothing but 7miles of smile-inducing downhill left. The first mile was quite rocky and tough, after Janet's Cabin it was more packed dirt and sweet single track. John took a crash that busted his front disc brake but he was able to rig it enough to get him through the rest of the ride. More roots, rocks, turns, up's and down's, and just pure full suspension riding fun. After many miles we dropped down onto Copper ski area and traversed for awhile then unfortunately our bike 'n bivy adventure was over. The day's ride was just over 6hrs and we all packed up the cars and sleepily headed back to our homes with stories to tell and more ideas for next time.