|Pedaling up 210 - not a bad start to the ride!|
We knew at some point we would be crossing the creek to avoid a marshy area and some small lakes. So when the trail we'd been following dipped down to cross a small creek, we thought nothing of it - but there was still water to our south, which should have been the first clue that something wasn't quite right. And then we saw the first moose. A medium sized bull that seemed somewhat annoyed, but not pissed that we had disturbed him. Doing our best to keep our eyes on the moose, we pressed forward on the trail. Until it vanished. Gone. Poof. Okay, maybe we'd missed a turn? We started backtracking a little on the known trail since Nick remembered seeing a turn to the south a little bit back. But that meant we lost sight of the moose... We didn't go back that far (and looking at some new data, we should have gone a little further) and decided to head back to the marsh. Somehow, we must have missed the trail in the marshy area. Once again, we pressed forward. It really looked somewhat, sorta like a trail - just a little taken over by the water. But we were making forward progress, so it couldn't be that bad, right? Then we saw the second moose. This one a female. Who knew if there was a calf around? We didn't stick around long to figure that one out. Time to head up!
|Yeah, that's no deer, that's a Moose!!|
Finally we merged back with the trail. All of a sudden, it just reappeared! With a sigh of relief, we continued heading west. With a trail to follow, it wouldn't take us that long to get to Monarch Crest trail, would it? Normally an adventure like this wouldn't be an issue - we both have the gear to hunker down for the night if needed. But this time, we were camping with Nick's cousin and uncle. We'd told them we'd be gone for about 4 hours, not realizing the nature of the adventure we were about to embark upon. Amazingly, when we were up high off the trail, I had service and was able to text them that all was good, just slow going. We stopped at an old cabin for a few minutes and then forged on. A cairn was just beyond the cabin and I breathed a sigh of relief. Cairns meant that we would have something to follow, right? Nope. Once again, the trail just went poof. From a well worn path to nothing at all. Seriously? How could the trail just vanish into nothing? Some more bushwacking complete with choice words as the trees shredded our arms and legs. We were so close! We could see the pass just ahead of us! But how the hell to get there if the trail kept vanishing? Just keep heading west.
|Pretty cool old cabin out in the middle of the woods|
Then another faint path and cairn appeared. Were we back on the trail? And would it last until the pass? The answer finally was yes. Back on the trail, following cairns through the treeline to the Continental Divide at nearly 13,000'. Even that was a long slog, with nothing but the cairns and a faint line of a trail. We flushed out two elk just below treeline, startling both Nick and I. But the end was in sight. Just a little longer and we'd be able to actually ride our bikes instead of pushing them!
|Above treeline, looking back at the valley we just climbed|
|Yes, we are on the trail at this point! Don't you see it right there?|
Is Little Cochetopa Trail worth the detour of the Crest? Not in my mind. Expecting a cool descent and having the intermittent trail issues limiting the ability to ride would really be awful when there are so many other cool trails off the crest. If I could figure out how to stay on the trail to complete the loop, then it might be worth it. But the trail needs a lot of work and a lot a signage for that to happen. Looking at my GPS, there were times we crossed the trail but had no clue we were actually on the trail. It took us 3:30 to go 3 miles...