Crest exploring

Not so much the last hurrah of the season, but the last expedition with the sole mission of exploring. No intervals, no cadance drills - just ride bikes and new trails. Back to Salida we went - time to check out Greens and Fooses Creeks. Nick's ridden both of them, but to me they were mysterious trails plummeting to the east off of Monarch Crest. But we also had another agenda - could we get to summit of Monarch pass via North Fooses and the power line cut? The map suggested that we could, which meant one thing. Time to ride and possibly hike as far as we could and hopefully reach the spine of the continent.

View from the top - can't beat fall in Colorado!
One of the few sections of Powerline I was able to ride - after the creek!
Saturday started out with a little CT appetizer before the Fooses road adventure. I stopped to take a picture just below the power lines - looking up at the communication center on top of the pass. That's where we were headed... Then came the long, gradual road climb up and up. Our optimism was high as we passed a sign that said "CDNST - 7 miles." The distance sounded scary, but that was a hint that we could gain the divide and the Crest Trail. So far it wasn't too bad - fairly well maintained jeep road with some steep pitches, a few stream crossings and just a few rocky segments. Easy but steady climbing. Then we reached a dead end of sorts that provided two options - go straight on a very poorly used path marked no motor vehicles or take a gated, rocky and steep road labeled dead end. Humm. Nick studied the map and opted for straight. If all else failed, we could retrace our steps and try option two. After the first downed tree, we entered a different world. Wet, mossy and rooty with a stream running right down the middle. Plenty of trees littered the trail, but with a well defined path. We kept pushing forward, through the mud and wetlands. Up and up, keep climbing - but we had lost sight of power lines we wanted to follow. We kept pushing on, every step taking us higher. Then the power lines reappeared to the north - a fair trail took us to the well defined road under the towers. Some more hiking and the green gate on the Crest trail appeared. Success! 

I thought after Vapor Trail 125 I would be done with the hike-a-bike
Nick taking in the view from the Gondola atop Monarch Pass
Monarch Mountain in the background - on the top of the world!
A quick exploratory pedal up to communication center to take in the views. Then back down to the Crest Trail for the pedal over the Greens Creek. It was a perfect day for a Crest traverse, with blue skies and calm weather. I was struggling a little, but still having fun. I haven't done the crest that many times, but love it more every time. And then it was time for Greens. Instead of continuing south towards Marshal Pass, we turned north - down. Very far down. I've never riden Greens before so it was all new. Roots, rocks, everything. Blanketed with a layer of gold from the aspens. I was in between trying to follow Nick's lines and just slowing down to process everything. After one hard slip on a wet root, I opted for caution and picking my own lines. It was still a challenge - a trail I'd never seen before and trying to ride even half speed of what Nick was riding. I was in brain overload. Between the rocks and swooping bends, wet roots, tight trees and more rocks, it was a blast. I needed to slow down to processes everything, but was having so much fun. A long day in the saddle but worth it. I ran out of food and water and Nick had to go get the van at the end. I was tired and getting slow - Nick didn't want me on Hyw 50 that tired.

Taking a photo of me taking a photo? Sounds like Nick!
I was supposed to go over the rock right by my tires - didn't realize it then!

Aspens and pines and a trail covered in gold


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