April (and May) Showers

The canyon is the perfect extended backyard with the kind of weather we've been having here in Colorado. The decomposed granite soaks of the moisture, turning the kitty litter trails into pure fun. The canyon is also a powerful place when it rains. Normal dry rocks have waterfalls cascading down their faces and the sound of the creek echoes no matter what trail I'm on. Last week, I got out for fun ride after two days of rain with the sole goal of enjoying the traction. Little did I know I'd also be finding some new and spectacular waterfalls. Every where I looked, there were small waterfalls pouring down the walls. When I got to the junction of Spring Creek and Columbine trails, the only option was getting wet because the usually faint spring was overflowing. A few switchbacks later down Columbine, the roar of the water drew my attention to the west. But I was in the middle of the descent and didn't want to stop to take pictures. A little bit lower down, two hikers told me to be careful, that there was a waterfall on the trail. And yes there was. Cascading right across the trail, just before the short little uphill. Again, I didn't stop at that point.

The waterfall from Spring Creek - with the snow covered mountains showing how low the snow line was.
But when I reached Starsmore, I decided I wanted the photos. So back up I climbed, enjoying almost unheard of traction on Columbine as I climbed. I stopped at the first waterfall running across the trail and took a few pictures. The roar of the water was so loud I couldn't hear anything but water. Every hiker also stopped and gawked at the sight of the falls. Then back up higher to the Spring Creek waterfall. Once I had my photos, it was time to ride back down and head home.
The waterfall that covers Columbine trail - cascading from high above.

With my bike for some perspective
Then this week - after the fun birthday ride, the rain moved in. It rained most of Sunday night, and then the majority of Monday. I was looking forward to Tuesday. Time to ride and benefit from the rain! I was going to ride with a friend and hit all the granite trails in the canyon. It would also be the perfect oppertuintiy to test out some of my light weight rain gear - make sure that it actually works in weather like this! But something came up and Matt wasn't able to join me. I'll admit to sometimes being a little hesitant to get out in adverse condtions alone. With the rain now pouring down at 9:00 and no end in sight, I reluctantly took my ride inside. There would be another time to test my gear. It wasn't worth something happening alone in a 40* cold rain, alone up in the mountains.

Well, that some other time came when Nick got home. He dumped his work stuff, and asked "you want to try out your knickers?" Sure! Despite not planning on a night ride, it didn't take long to get organized and we were soon heading up Cheyenne Canyon into the clouds. The air was damp and our lights reflected the still falling drizzle. Clouds teased the mountains all around us and waterfalls thundered off every cliff. The creek was a roiling mass of brown water and white foam. I was happy to not be out there alone, wondering what I would find around the next corner - intact trail or washed out cliffs.
Nick, coming around one of the corners on upper Columbine, his lights (Exposure Lights 6-Pack) almost blinding my camera
Columbine was as I had anticipated. Tight and fast, but with the occasional stream crossing. It was perfect riding and we had the trail all to ourselves. Or so we thought. I did see a few deer at one of the switchbacks climbing back up to Gold Camp, but that was it. Until Nick pinch-flatted. He was riding his fat bike since that bike was still dirty from the last rain storm and had his uber warm pogies. We were just east of the waterfall crossing the trail, just after the one little climb. At first I was just standing around, watching Nick deal with the flat. Then I started feeling like something was watching us. I started looking around more, searching for eyes in the dark. Nothing - just the echoes of the water and the light reflecting off the damp leaves. Yet the feeling of being watched wasn't going away. And then I saw them - glowing eyes, reflecting the light of my Diablo. It wasn't a deer - the eye spacing was too forward facing, like one of my cats was watching us. A few steps closer and then the eyes froze, the animal realizing that I'd seen it. I told Nick we had company and he finished pumping up his tire. I tried to keep the eyes in the beam of my light, but they had vanished. Time to skedaddle in a hurry!

Trails look so different at night, under just the bike lights. Who knows what is watching us riding?


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