Return to Salida

The last attempt at Salida didn't turn out well. This trip? Much better - despite several last minute changes in plans and ride locations We made plans to meet Todd and Amber Saturday night then find a place to camp. That meant Nick and I had time to do our own ride Saturday morning. Of course, we picked Starvation Creek... The climb up Poncha Creek Road doesn't seem too bad when I don't have 90 miles under my tires! We made good time up the climb, almost creating the summit before the rain came. The one ride Nick decided to not wear his pack... we got drenched on the road across to the Starvation drop in. Luckily the rain stopped just as we reached the drop in - but we were still wet and cold. I had to change gloves before we started descending! I was super happy I'd worn my thin wool Swiftwick socks - my feet would have been frozen otherwise. Nick didn't have spare gloves and his hands were already getting numb from the cold and wet. So it was a sedate pace down Starvation. Funny - I say sedate pace, but it was still faster then my first few runs down that trail! Once we reached Poncha Creek Road, we both decided that one lap was enough. Time to head back to the van.

Sunset as we drove down Old Monarch Pass
After a fun detour to Vino Salida and dinner at Boathouse, it was time to find the camp site for the night. Since the Sunday ride plan included Canyon Creek, we wanted to be on the west side of Monarch Pass. Dodging clouds and thunderstorms, we found a great spot about 2 miles up Old Monarch Pass Road. Too bad we'd all forgotten dry firewood - getting a fire started to smoke out the mosquitoes was an interesting undertaking. And once we did get it going, there was plenty of smoke! Them mosquitoes were gone - at least until the next morning when we pulled up at the parking area at the base of canyon creek! I was eaten alive!

The hills are alive! Amber taking in the view from the top of Granite Mountain
Canyon Creek... a new trail for Amber! That made it an even better pedal. I'd forgotten how ugly the climb up Tomichi Pass Road was - we haven't hit up Canyon Creek from that direction in a while. And it was busy as well, with lots of Jeeps, ATVS and motos - as well as a few other riders. Finally, we reached the turn off onto the single track. Time to work on the HAB skills! I've been working on my bike carry technique and I think I have it down. Once at the summit, time to get ready for the downhill. Dry clothes and body armor and off we went! I remembered my first time going down Canyon Creek when we dropped in - the dizzying sense of the world falling away. So high above tree line and there's nothing to focus on besides the trail. Now, I've ridden it many times - including in the dark. And it's almost easier in the dark! Amber handled it well - and they weren't that far behind us as we entered the trees. And that was with several stops to take in the view! I'll be honest - I didn't ride Canyon Creek until 2013 - and I'd been riding my bike for nearly five years at that time. Amber? She's only been on the mountain bike for two years. The progress she's made in that time has been incredible to watch. I'm lucky to be calling her a teammate this August - not a competitor!

Still some snow left on the alpine sections
It wasn't all fun and games coming down Canyon Creek though. A miss timed rock led to a nasty pedal strike and some trail side first aid just after Horse Camp. Between Nick's water filter and me scrubbing, we got Amber's elbow cleaned out. My little first aid kit had just enough to bandage it up to finish the ride. Took a bit to get the drive and flow back - but we were railing by the last climb our mojo was back! It's always good to be able to finish a ride strong note - even after a mishap like that.
Looking out over the valley and Brown's Canyon NM
Sunday was questionable. We weren't sure what we'd feel like riding, especially Amber. Her elbow was sore and her hand was already bruising. We decided to sleep on it and went to bed watching the thunderstorms rolling across the divide. Walls of rain and lightening hiding the high mountains from view, but thankfully staying away from where we were camped.
Sunset behind Shavano
Sunday morning we decided on Foose's at a minimum. If we were feeling good, we could do a little more. But Foose's alone is a solid ride. We took advantage of having to cars to shuttle the pass - the ride up would wait. We took our time getting organized at the summit, giving the Crest Shuttlers time to clear out a little. Or so we thought... The Crest was a crowded place and we were catching everyone. Lots of thru-hikers for both the CTD and the CT, as well as the shuttlers. At Foose's, a brief pause to gather ourselves and get ready to ride. The drop in at Foose's always looks intimidating - a straight shot plummeting down into the trees. The original plan was for the boys to ride their own pace down, and be getting the car by the time Amber and I made it down. Well, the best laid plans are always flexible. Those thunderstorms we'd watched? Foose's was soaked. It's normally wet in spots, but those places were bottom bracket deep mud pits. No railing the descent under those conditions! I've never seen the trail that muddy... It turned into a fun family ride as we dodged mud puddles though the middle half of the trail. Then it got fun again as the trail dried out and we weaved and bobbed around aspens and pines. Another lap was out of the question under those conditions. Time to head into town and call it a day.


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