A line on the map

No good biking weekend is complete without an adventure. For us, that meant exploring a line on the map and trying to make a different loop in the Monarch area. Part of the ride was a success, but we weren't able to make the connections that we wanted in the beginning. There was some bushwacking and backtracking involved...

Once we crested Monarch Pass and got on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), the adventure really began. Neither one of us knew what to expect from looking at the line on the map the represented the CDT. The first part was straight forward - right across the top of Monarch Mountain Ski area.
It was so quiet and empty without the snow and the lifts running - just a few foot prints in the dusty road that will soon become a ski run.
It looks a little different without the feet of snow! At the top of one of the lifts at Monarch Mountain

I'll be seeing you in the winter time!
We stopped for some photos and to eat small snack. Then with the clouds building all around us, we continued north, following the contours of the Continental Divide to the very edge of the ski resort. And then it was single track. A narrow ribbon of single track extending as far north as we could see, wrapping around the mountains ahead of us.

Nick on one of the last little climbs on the ski resort. We would hit singletrack soon
 So far, it was all rideable. We pedaled steadily, climbing higher and higher. There were a few steep, boulderish switchbacks that I chose to walk. The walking gave me a chance to look around and take in the expanse around us. In one of the saddles, stopped to read the historical marker signs, detailing how the first inhabitants of the mountains hunted elk. Just after the signs, I happened to glance down in the valley below us. A fine herd of elk was sheltering in the trees. I couldn't get Nick's attention without spooking them and settled for attempting to get a photo. No luck with that one!
A short break for some interesting history
The nature of the trail changed as we climbed higher. I was forced to walk more and more as the boulder fields were challenging enough - without the 1000 foot drop off to my left! Trying to remember to always unclip with my right foot and lean right whenever I stopped wasn't easy. I got a little shaken when my front tire hit a rock and I couldn't correct the leftward lean. Visions of my and my bike rolling down the hillside flashed through my mind as I toppled. Luckily, it wasn't on one of the steeper sections and we only slid about 10 feet....
Nick riding among the boulders at 12500 feet. Far off in the distance is Tomichi pass, the line just near his elbow. That's where we were on Saturday!
Nick taking in the view. The wind was brutal on the exposed saddles and we never stopped for long.
Water Dog Lakes - I've seen the line on the map and the people hiking across 50 with fishing poles, but never the lakes themselves

 And then came the descent off the alpine ridge. Wow. I rode chunks, but walked others. Between being just a little shaken from my slide and the continued consequences of wiping out that high up, I choose to fight another day. We traced the thin line of trail around the ridge and down into the trees. It didn't get any easier as we descended, providing a challenging ride for both of us. Nick was having a blast, picking his lines through the roots, rocks and tight switchbacks.

One of the many lakes we skirted as we descended. The trail actually drops off the alpine ridge above the lake
And then we were down. We took one of the jeep roads down to Hwy 50, then rode up to where we had left the van. Some curiosity satisfied, but as always with lines on the map, left wanting more. What would the rest of the CDT trail be all the way through to Hancock? And what an epic day that would be? Camping at Snowblind, riding up Old Monarch, then across the CDT to Hancock and then back to Snowblind via Canyon Creek? Lines on the map. Each one a different story and a different adventure.


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