My vacation website

Crested Butte 2002

July 3rd

This annual trip turned out to be a little different than last year. By the morning of the 3rd, the crew dwindled down to 4. Since John was in Vegas, he would fly to Denver and we would pick him up from there. This left us with 3 drivers and 1 SUV to get us to Colorado. The first mishap was when Mark forgot to put the pin in the bike hitch rack. After driving a few minutes, he noticed his bike wasn’t there and later found it dragging on the ground.

Luckily, at the time, his bike was the only one on the rack. The only damage was a bent rear wheel. Once we got the bikes on the rack and made sure the pin was in, it was off to Colorado. We left at 10pm with Mike driving the first leg.

July 4th

By 2am we were in Iowa and I took over the piloting from 2am to 4:30pm. It was during this time, I told Mark that his truck can only go up to 100mph on downhills due to the drag imposed by the big green monster on the roof. I think we covered 200 miles during that time, but only got 12 mpg. Mark took over the driving from 4:30-6:00. We arrived at Mountain Park campground around 2pm. At this time we found out that there was a statewide fireban in Colorado. Oh well, looks like no campfires for the entire trip. We also found out that we had electricity at our campsite! The bathroom was also very very clean. In fact, this was the neatest campsite I’ve ever been to. We set up our tent and then it started raining, so we took a 3 hour nap in the afternoon. At 6pm, it was time to drive to Denver to pick up John from the airport. Denver was about 1.5 hours away. The trip was uneventful and ended up with us eating at Chili’s around 11pm in Fort Collins. We reached our campsite at 12am.

July 5th

It was a quick 2 hour drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since I had originally planned for a group of 10, I had reserved a small group campsite suitable for 15. Well, guess what, we had so much room at this campsite! The only thing about camping at RMNP, is the threat of bears and mountain lions. We couldn’t leave out any food at anytime. You couldn’t even wash dishes or brush your teeth without dumping the water into a drain. There was a specified wash sink that actually flushed and a bunch of steel chests to store your food. We actually didn’t see any bears. We had the luxury of camping near a group a people who must have been on some religious retreat, we just called them, the cult. We had to endure bugles, trumpets, guitars and singing in circles. However, to help drown out the sound we had Paul Oakenfold and Mark’s truck speakers (until the ranger told us to turn it down).

July 6th

In the morning we took the drive throught RMNP to see the sights. With our handy Etrex GPS we were able to see what altitude we were at. I think our highest elevation was 12,100 ft. We also passed the Continental Divide and the headwater of the Colorado River. Then it was the long drive to Rifle, CO. Along the way, we stopped off at a roadside store to purchase some jerky and one of those small bears carved out of wood. (Note: according to the guy selling me the bear, he had a recording deal and was headed to Cali, I had him sign the bear just in case! So be on the lookout for Aslan!).

While looking at the map of Colorado and the location of Rifle, we noticed it was pretty close to the Utah border. A quick calculation revealed that we were 180 miles from Moab, so we decide what the fuck, let’s go. We don’t need to see the stinkin waterfalls in Rifle. Click here to go to the Moab 2002 webpage.

July 7th

Finally after 4 days, we arrive again at Crested Butte. This time without reservations we were worried about finding a campsite at Lake Irwin. But, we quickly found out that with the fire ban, camping just isn’t very popular in Colorado right now. Only about half the campsite was full, so we had our pick.

July 8th

Our first ride would be the Dyke Trail. At about 10am, we headed to the trailhead. The ride was just as I remembered it. The fast downhill portion which quickly toppled a few riders in the first 200 feet. I guess the terrain is alot different than Slickrock. After 30 minutes of riding we came to the infamous log and branch of 2001, where Paul did his flying endo. We stopped to take pictures and recreate the scene. All the climbs and pushbikes were all worth to arrive at the promise land of continuous downhill. Judging from last year, it took us 20 minutes to complete this. This year, with my helmet camera and GPS, I would be able to map it to find out exactly how long it is. The downhill was a little more technical than I remembered it. We did stop a brief moment after a crash, but we all arrived unscathed. By my calculations, It took us 9 minutes and was 1.3 miles. I guess that means we averaged 8.7 miles an hour.. We must have ridden very slow last year!

Going back to camp, we decided to take the trail instead of the road. Most trail maps show the Dyke trail as a 21 mile loop. So by my calculations, the Dyke trail was only 6 miles, so the road back must be 15 miles. (We later found out it is only 8 miles). While riding back uphill, the skys turned gray and it began to rain and hail. No problem since we all had raingear, we just put it on and waited for it to pass. We eventually found out that it wasn’t a passing storm and we couldn’t wait it out. The trail became muddy and the stream crossing were worse.

During the voyage back, one of our riders (I won’t say who) became cold and couldn’t make it. We think he had hypothermia and went into shock. At this time we sat under a large tree and covered him with our rain ponchos and sent someone to get help. About an hour later a doctor came running down the trail and he brought dry warm clothes and helped the person walk the rest of the trail.

Me and the others carried his stuff and bike back and to our suprise as we crested the hill to the trailhead we saw about 15 people and 5 vehicles there with our friend talking to the EMTs. We made it into the Crested Butte News. So we ended up back at camp around 8:00pm. It was a long day so we decided to go to town and shower and get dinner. Unfortunately, after the shower all restaurants were closed, it was around 11pm. On the way back we picked up two people who’s jeep was wasn’t working and drove them to a yurt beyond Irwin Lodge. Mark’s truck go a real off-road workout as the road was pretty much full of holes and off camber. At midnight we finally got back to camp and we were too tired to make dinner so we skipped it.

July 9th

Well this was suppose to be a scheduled ride day to Snodgrass or 403 but because of the ordeal from yesterday we decided to take a rest day.

We went to town and found our soon to be favorite lunch spot – Cucina’s. This is a deli style restaurant that caters to people biking and hiking. Most of the stuff they sell can be packed in a backpack and brought on a day trip. The macaroni and cheese was our favorite, topped off with Creme Brulee’ (What a great post ride meal!). One interesting note was the owner asked Mike if one of us was the guy who had hypothermia yesterday. News sure travels in a small town!

After lunch we decided to scope out our future trails. We drove to Mt. Crested Butte pass the Snodgrass trailhead and to Gothic. We were going to the Trail 401 beginning but found out the road was impassable due to the annual block of snow that is usually melted by now. So we parked and took a walk to Emerald Lake.

We never did see the beginning of the trailhead, we turned around because the weather began to look bad. On the way back to the end of 401 we got to do some more off-roading in Mark’s truck. Then it was off to an afternoon matinee of MIB II.
July 10th

Time to get on our bikes again. Today it’s the Snodgrass trail, which is considered an easy ride. We drove to past Mt. Crested Butte and parked at the eastern trailhead. This trail is on private property and is closed for grazing during the Spring and Fall. The beginning of the trail is a long uphill climb. Once near the top you have two choices, to either go all the way to the top of Snodgrass Mountain or to ride down the west side of it. We chose to ride west. This trail is not very technical and offers smooth riding down the west side. Once at the end of the trail you take the dirt road back to Mt. Crested Butte town. This is a nice long downhill where you relax before the climb through town on the main road. This whole loop took us just under two hours so we were done by noon.  It was Cucina time again for lunch and then back to the threater for a matinee of Minority Report.

July 11th

Today was our final ride for the trip and we decided to take the ‘famous’ 401 trail. We drove to the same place as the day before and parked the truck. We walked the bikes over the snowpatch and to the beginning of the 401. From there on, it was an uphill ride to the top which was over 11,000 ft. Eventually we reached the beginning of the downhill. The uphill trek took us 1 hour and 40 minutes. The downhill was definitely worth it. The ride has everything, long cross country in the wildflowers, switchbacks, rocky sections, wooded areas and a short creek crossing at the end. This is the best trail I have ever ridden. Click here to see a 3-D Google Earth view of the 401 trail. We were at the mid-point of the 401, we heard the rest of the trail wasn’t that great but three of us would ride it while one went back to get the truck. Mike rode back uphill to get the truck, and we began the rest of the trail. By the time Mike brought the truck back to us, we were only halfway through the second half so we cut it short and came back to the road at the next branch.

Once back in town, it was back to Cucinas for lunch and back to camp (We ran out of movies to go watch). Back at camp we learned that part of the site would be closed due to sick trees in the area. We would have to move camp to another site, so we decided to pack up and leave.

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