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Crested Butte 2005

July 1

The fifth annual Crested Butte Trip was the most complicated trip to plan so far. With eight people coming from three different states and some driving and some flying, timing and coordination was the key.

From LA, Eddy & Shanda make the 5 hour drive to Phoenix. In Phoenix, we take my 4Runner and gear and begin our journey. Unfortunately, a late Friday meeting for Eddy led us to a late start. We left Phoenix at 12am and drove north towards Flagstaff. On the way we could see the Northern Arizona brush fires all along I-17. At 3am, we arrived at Winslow, AZ and stay at a hotel.

From Chicago, Mike, Rex, John and Mark head west towards Colorado. This year the Chicago crew had a series of mishaps on their drive to and from Colorado. Within a few hours of leaving Chicago they were all fast asleep! The 4Runner decided that it’d like to drive on the shoulder and hit a mile marker. That led to a nice dent on the side of Mark’s 4Runner and bent rear rim on Rex’s bike.

July 2

Somewhere in Nebraska, Mark’s 4Runner decided that it didn’t want to go anymore. Apparently, the fuel gauge decided to fail and stay at 1/4 tank full so after hours of driving, the 4Runner ran out of gas. Luckily, the next exit was only one mile away. They pushed the car about 1/2 mile and then sent John to the gas station to get a can and some gas. Meanwhile, in Arizona, we were waking up and beginning our drive to Colorado. At the same time, Kevin was hopping on a plane from Chicago to Denver, where the Chicago crew would pick him up at around 4pm. Around 5pm, we arrived in Ouray, Colorado. Called, Switzerland of America, I had wanted to stop by here ever since I passed by it last year. We had dinner, took some pictures and headed for Crested Butte. In the meantime, the Chicago crew had picked up Kevin and were headed towards Crested Butte also. At about 8pm we all arrived in Gunnison at the same time and caravaned to CB. We got to the condo around 9pm in Mt. Crested Butte and had dinner. No camping tonight, as all the campsites were booked for July 4th weekend.

Town of Ouray

July 3

Sunday morning we ventured into town. We were suppose to meet a realtor to see some real estate in CB, CB south and Mt. CB. Our realtor was a no show, so we just walked into another realtor office. Prices in CB were really high, there were a couple new construction condos, condo conversions and lots available. After coming here for five straight years, we should have bought a property the first year we got here. There was a lottery for the Mountaineer condos, which started at $310,000 for a 445 square foot studio! Another possibility was buying a lot in CB south for around $225,000 and building a home on it. The Grand Lodge had condo conversions priced from $139,000 to $389,000. Those looked promising, but as a condotel, we weren’t sure what the cashflow would be like.

View from the condo

After lunch, we got ready for our first ride. It was Snodgrass, which is a relatively short ride from the condo. The ride was a nice acclimatization ride for us sea level people. Near the end of the ride, the clouds came and it began to rain and hail briefly. Some of us learned our lesson about rain and hail from 2002 so we immediately stopped and put on our arm and leg warmers and rain jackets. Those who weren’t present during 2002 continued to ride in the ride for a while without putting on more clothing and someone even didn’t bring a rain jacket!

Our group got split in the rush to get back to the condo. I was last with John and Eddy coming down the road, and unfortunately I had the keys to the condo! I believe it was Mike, Rex, Mark and Kevin who got to the condo first and had to wait outside. Eddy went ahead to catch up to Shanda and me and John were last. I’m not sure how long they waited in the rain until I got there, but Eddy had gone to the Resort Quest office to get another key to the condo by the time I got there.

July 4

This year our favorite trails were closed due to summer coming late. There was no 401, Dyke, 403 or even Teocalli. So we looked for some alternative trails and Hartman Rocks was suggested as a nice, but different type of riding. Hartman Rocks is located in Gunnison, CO which is a 30 minute drive from CB. The trails here were more like Moab and Fruita, but not as hot in summer.

As you can see, Hartman is alot different than the green mountains of Crested Butte. We didn’t have a good map of the trails so we just rode around and took trails as we came to them. After a few hours of riding we were sort of lost. Luckily, Mark had taken a picture of the trail map in the parking lot so we used the LCD screen on his camera as a map most of the way.

July 5

Today we decided to ride Monarch Crest. Some of us rode this trail last year but we never finished the complete trail. This time we were going to finish the whole trail, even if it was 25 miles. We reached the parking lot at 9:30 and dropped off the bikes and gear. Eddy and I took the 4runners to Salida to park them at our destination. We took the shuttle bus back to the parking lot. Monarch was certainly more enjoyable this time, riding in the summer, the warmth was better than snow.

In the early part of the trail, we came to a few large patches of snow. It was a very interesting descent, sliding down part of it. We took our time riding this trail which changed from above the tree line to forest to creek crossings. We had a couple flat tires, we stopped for lunch and before we knew it, it was 5:30pm and we came to a sign. It said we had 9 miles to go if we took the trail, or we could ride the road back to where our cars were parked. We figured we could easily do the 9 miles before it became dark since it should be mostly downhill. Of course, the trail wasn’t mostly downhill, it was a climb then a downhill then a climb.

At about 7pm the skies got dark and it got really windy. We got worried because we didn’t want to be on the mountain in the rain and the sun was beginning to set. Somehow, we got split into two groups, me, Kevin, Mike and Mark were first. Eddy, Shanda, Rex and John were behind us a few minutes. Some of our talkabouts were running low on batteries, we were low on water and I had the only flashlight.

This had the makings of a really bad night. Our main concern was just getting to the road before dark. We could not navigate the trails at night on bikes but we could walk them if we had to using the flashlight. Mike and I were going to go ahead and try to get to the car before dark, the plan was to get the car (which had another flashlight) and come back up the trail if we had to. So we lightened our packs, gave Mark the food and flashlight and headed off. Mark was going to wait for the second group to catch up. Fortunately, they were only 10 minutes behind.

Me and Mike came to a fork in the trail and according to my odometer we had gone 7 miles. That meant we had 2 to go! But the sign at the fork said 3 more miles! We broke out our trail book and it said that after the sign was a lung busting climb! Damn the sign, 1 mile is alot when you’re racing against the sun. Ok time to reset the odometer and start pedalling again. Ok, that book officially sucks, there was no lung busting climb, it was downhill. When we came to a hill, it wasn’t that bad, I don’t know who wrote that book but it was way off on this trail. Hmm, at the 3 mile point I still didn’t see any road, those signs are really off. At 8pm we got to the end of the trail. I check the odometer and we had gone another 4.5 miles! Mike, Kevin and I were finally at the road. I had the keys to my 4runner, but Mark had the keys to the other one.

At this point we were on a major road but still 5 miles from the cars. The good thing is that it was all downhill to the car so I took the road down, actually passing some cars on the road at 40 mph. I grabbed the car and came back to the trailhead. By that time Eddy, Shanda and Mark had reached the road. It was 8:30pm and pretty dark (look at the pics!). So this was our longest ever ride, 10 hours and 31 miles (36 if you include the downhill road ride). So the reward for a long ride? Pizza Hut of course!

July 6

After our long ride, we decided to rest on the next day. So on our rest day we actually set up camp at Lake Irwin cause we had already paid for and reserved a campsite. We also spent some time at a couple realtor offices looking at some potential home building land in CB South and around town. The properties in this small town have been appreciating so fast. In fact, one subdivision had a price increase of $50,000 on lots over the July 4th holiday weekend. The total amount of time we spend there was probably 12 hours. We actually took time and did some fishing and camping. Unfortunately, the one night we decided to sleep in the tents was really cold and Rex forgot his sleeping bag in the back of my SUV which Eddy had taken back to the condo. So Rex put on some warm clothes and slept in Mark’s SUV.  Later in the morning after a cold cold night he found out that one of Mark’s windows was slightly open all night.

July 7

Time for some easy downhill riding on Mt. Crested Butte. We bought some lift tickets to take us up the mountain. There were plenty of trails to choose from. Trails were marked like ski trails, beginner green circle, medium blue square and difficult black diamond. After a few hours of downhilling we went to the lower loop trails for a leisure ride.

July 8

So ends our 2005 CB trip with a quick breakfast and we parted to drive our separate ways home. The Chicago crew decided to go west towards Lake Irwin and then up towards I-70. However, I-70 was closed for at least an hour and they had to get to the Denver airport to drop Kevin off. So looking at the map they chose to take some local roads instead of waiting. As you can see from the pictures below, the local roads weren’t the best choice. Kevin missed his flight but did catch a later one on standby.

Lots of pictures here (some repeats from above)


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