Saturday, May 29, 2010

mountain muhly trail

Evergreen CO offers more mountain singletrack than you could ride in a season.


Mount Evans viewed from evergreen mountain summit- a tough climb but worth the view!

evergreen co

overlook above Evergreen CO.  This area is honeycombed with tight singletrack!

three sisters trail

one of many county parks within 45 min drive of Denver metro area. Almost Heaven?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

early season backpack

Well that was fun!

The boy and I managed to get a bundle of firsts recorded into the books this weekend.
Our first backpack trip of the season- before Memorial Day even!

First cutthroat trout brought to hand, 9-10" beautiful male in full spawning regalia.  Big fella, given such small water!


First two-legged visitors into our little basecamp valle after the thaw, by our studied observations.  Seems ours were the first bootprints of the season to travel that trail, leaving us a bit in awe thinking back on the mountain men of yesteryear.  

That right there was worth the trip! 

Saturday was consumed with hiking, blister-making (about the size of a silver dollar on left heel, thanks for asking), exploring, fishing (stellar), fish catching (tough), meadow napping (successful!), treasure hunting for antlers (zilch), stalking elk (bingo!).  


Chasing elk proved great fun- we managed to stalk within  maybe 50 yards of a young bull + 2 cows before giving ourselves away.   Spooked a coupla other groups running hither, yon before the sun set.   Counted 4-5 others who'd seen their last winter.  Testament to winter's harsh snows, or the mountain lion's stealth?  Who's to say, but I did not let the boy stray out of sight, believe you me.

Dinner brought to you by those fine chefs at Mountain Home.  Campfire, stories and stargazing followed before calling it a day.


Sunday we packed light to really cover some ground exploring new trails, creeks, environs.  Streams were just past peaking in runoff, still overrunning their grassy banks, the waters simply beyond frigid.  Lots of snowbanks still on north slopes, in the shade, blocking the trail in many places.  


Some banks were still over the boy's head- postholing proved a royal pain in a coupla notable stretches.  Creek crossings were an adventure unto themselves, the waters threatening to impart instant migraine from the moment of immersion.  Not at all hard to believe given the fact most all of it was snow, like, just 10 minutes before! 

The Rio Grande Cutthroat trout proved obstinate beyond our comprehension, mostly immune to temptation.  First dries: humpy, guide saver, royal wulff, ant; then nymphs: copper john, flashbackpheasanttail, beadheadgoldribbedharesear, black juju baetis.  Shoot! Given that arsenal, if you aint catchin, they aint bitin'!  We caught just enough to give you a glimpse of the small streams' potential at the height of the season.  Hooo boy, we'll be back!

With the catching proving so tough, we spent a good amount of our travels on trail improvement, serendipitously as it turned out. On the edge of another of those gorgeous parks, I pointed out one particular stretch of embedded trail that served to channel runoff a good ways along,  the water rutting the trail a bit before finding it's way over the bench and on down the slope.  I gave the boy a rundown on  some of the trail building and maint techniques employed to prevent erosion, concluding with an eye-widening demo how those ubiquitous waterbars worked.  

It was with some amusement I witnessed the lightbulb light up right then and there at 9,000ft, in the middle of god's green acres: bling!  At the boy's insistence, we spent the better part of our trip back to basecamp draining trails for those that will follow this summer.  Hands cramped, blistered, no matter- 'Look what we've done Dad- helped all those hikers coming here this summer!  Cool, huh?'  'Cool beans is right, kiddo.'  Guess we'll need to add a small entrenching tool to ole Dad's load next trip, sigh.  Who am I kidding, tell the truth, I couldn't be more pleased.  And proud!




Not that the weekend didn't have it's share of shakedown cruise casulties.  To Mrs Wulff's consternation, they enumerate as follows:
  1. (1) pair of sunglasses, polarized, small.  In photo #43, they can be seen planted squarely in proper position shading the boy's eyes.  Photo #47, taken a mere 100 yards away, no sunglasses.  Somewhere between photos 43 and 47 lies......Oblivion.  Huh.  (Approximate  number of uses of said sunglasses before falling into Oblivion: hmmmm,  maybe five,  six?  Sigh, such is life with kids, aye Dads?)
  2. (1) red shoe.  Fault lies with me, a (twice) bad tie-off to boy's pack.  The loss noticed only when I went to step over its mate, trailside, on the hike back out.  Fearing the wrath of She Who Stands With A Fist, I wisely retraced the trail just traveled.  Which proved fruitless- one red shoe vanished into The Wild.  Huh, say hi to the sunglasses for me.  Honey, the boy's gonna need new camp shoes!
  3. This one actually made me laff out loud:  Our first and biggest fish of the trip just hooked up.  Go to pass the boy the rod for his to play, and off pops the reel, rolling on down the bank spewing line as Okuma makes a break for it. We manage to hand play the fish to hand amidst laughter, snap a few photos before searching for runaway reel.  Found, I try to reseat the reel only to find the seat epoxy has given way, the loose reel seat threatening to follow the reel down into the weeds.  Mind you, we spent the rest of the trip waving a big stick sans reel, the reel neatly tucked into a shirt pocket or belt.  Would've paid good money to have someone witness that scene: coupla tinhorns spooking fish all over hill and dale, all rigged up with their fly reel tucked in the others pocket. Good lord man, and just why is that kid wearing only one red shoe!


Friday, May 21, 2010

bike to work

I bike to work most every day, don't think to much about it anymore.  Except maybe when I almost get run down at the intersection near my workplace.  Incidents to date: ole bluehair behind the wheel, accelerating thru his turn, looking right thru me on a 'yield to pedestrian crossing' corner, skims past my front wheel, eyes grow big as saucers as he finally takes notice of the biker he's narrowly missed.  That was scary, he simply had no idea.  

Or the young punk accelerating from dead stop in an attempt to beat me thru the same intersection, knowing full well he's in no danger behind the wheel of his 70's dodge dart.  Me on the other hand....yeesh.

So in honor of Bike To Work Day today, kudos to you who today will recognize: old skool two-wheel drive aint so hard after all.  And for the rest of you- please let's keep an eye out for those vulnerable bikers sharing the roads today, and everyday!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

heads up out there!

wow, and I thought I had a tough commute!  HT:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


7 hours in the saddle, 30 miles of singletrack, 2 trail networks, 1 schweet mountain town, distilled down to 3.38.


The girl's soccer team placed in first in this weekend's ABQ tourney- that's my girl!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

down but not out

Scheduled backpack trout hunting trip this weekend placed on indefinite hold....

Stage was set: Packs finally packed, sitting on the front porch awaiting final loading.  Boy and I both geeked up at prospect of first trip of the season.  Food, check.  Maps, check.  Fishing gear, check.  Stove, filter, tent, sleeping bags, first aid, check, check, check, check.  One more errand to run, then hit the road.

Not so fast my friend....Truck is sluggish to start, gauges all whacked-out hovering at zero, won't accellerate, gasp, wheeze.  Grrrrr......

What craptastic timing, no?

So no tramping in the high country this weekend, sigh.

Insult, meet Injury: Bike is in the shop, seems I bent her up pretty good railing those trails in Durango, figured the bike shop mechanics could work her back into shape while we were backpacking.

So it seems this weekend is destined to be a recovery and refit weekend.  Wouldn't be so bad if not for the cabbage expended right this ship, yeesh.

Worst yet, Mrs Wulff has not-so-subtly placed window cleaning supplies on the counter, doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

Oh joy.

EDIT: happy ending for the truck diagnosis: failed battery was all that ailed her, praise the car gods. ;-]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Singletracks! Horse Gulch and Telegraph Trails Durango CO

As promised, a coupla gps tracks from last weekend's ride. Click the icons for photos, info, video.

Last, take a looksee at this- holy smokes batman, that's a lot of trails! (not all are mtb trails, you'll want to research- have fun!) HT: A Thousand Words Durango

View Larger Map

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

telegraph trails- durango co

Durango itself is as fine a basecamp for mtb as any mountain town Team Roughrider has run across. [FYI Much the same applies to fly fishing, however that’s a tale for another day… ;-)] Plenty of pub, grub, coffee stops; bike shops; festivals (incl Iron Horse Classic Memorial Day weekend where 500+ crazies race the Durango Silverton narrow gauge the 50 miles to Silverton); a schweet new Rec Center with indoor water park. We’ve found the rec center fits the bill for providing showers and kid fun when camping or biking in the area: they charged me but a single dollar for shower + towel this trip, can’t beat that with a stick! Compare that with say, Aspen, were Team Roughrider spent upwards of $40 just to wash the trail grime away, sheesh, woulda been cheaper to just pour Susuan B’s down the drain!

RE: camping- the nearest USFS campground is a mere 15-20 min drive from downtown Durango, offering equal access to the high country trails to the NW, Durango Joe’s coffee back in town. NE of town, 45 minutes away, lie Lemon and Vallecito reservoirs, offering basecamp options and serving as gateways to the Weminuche Wilderness (wink, wink anglers!).

Durango offers more developed trails for mtb than you could shred in a lifetime of riding. North and West await epic rides in the high country, much above 10,000ft; Molas Pass, Blackhawk Pass, Bolam Pass, Kennebeck Pass all remain the stuff of legend for yours truly- will this be the year I finally make tracks on the Colorado Trail? Southeast of town, Durango offers lower elevation riding, just right for early, late season riding when snow still clogs the high country trails.

Tel trails system lies immediately SE & adjacent to Durango, stretching from the Fort Lewis College mesa, on down to the trailheads opposite Home Depot and Wallyworld off of US 550 on south end of town. This area is literally honeycombed with trails (40+ miles and growing) of varying degrees of roughage, ergo there’s something for most everyone, from gonzo dudes to family rides with the youngsters. Latitude 40 Maps publishes a good map that includes accurate difficulty ratings.

The Byzantine nature of the Telegraph trail system can be a bit intimidating at first. While there are numerous signed intersections that keep you from becoming hopelessly lost, there are just as many unsigned and unmapped (thinking of you, Secret!) to keep things interesting. I’m usually not one to plunge blindly into a solo exploration without having a coupla Plan B-C bail options available in case of a mechanical (2009), or unmitigated exhaustion (2008). So I’ve bitten these trails off in chunks over the last coupla years, aided greatly with the addition of gps to the kit bag last year.

My 2009 explorations had me making tracks all over the frontside Horse Gulch area trails, saving the southside trails beyond Telegraph Ridge for this year, hence the focus of my riding this weekend.

A word about Telegraph Ridge: the ridgeline dominates the skyline as viewed from Horse Gulch, presenting a rather formidable challenge for newcomers. However, the climb itself remains a must-do for any ride in the trail network, to best gauge your stamina, mental fortitude, mtb handling skilz on the ascent + descent against those of the locals, most all of whom seem to have mountain goat as common lineage. I have yet to clean the ascent, the last 40 yards adding bitter insult to injury: a complete mental mind-f*** that caps the grueling climb. I’ve seen guys, gals clean it, albeit maybe 1 in 3, my turn is coming.

Most importantly, Telegraph Ridge also conveniently serves as the jumping off point for all the southward downhills, of which there is a veritable plethora to choose from. Thoughts of blasting the 3-4 mile descents on the backside may prove just enough motivation to make Telgraph’s last frontside steep forgivable, however tough on the legs, lungs. Think Potential Energy here- what goes up, must surely rip it on the downhill, schweet! Oh and the views from on top are simply stellar: the snowcapped San Juans bracket the scene north and east, while more rugged mesa country extends southwards into NM.

Once the Telegraph ridge top is gained, you’re faced with some tough decisions for your descent. Anasazi Run is the most abrupt, back down to the Horse Gulch area, a steeeep, brake-scorching run that threatens to pop your clavicle just eyeballing it from above. If you find Anasazi a bit too short (or hair raising!), continue on Telegraph up to Sidewinder. Sidewinder’s grades are more moderate, while adding in serpentine twists that give the trail its moniker. Cowboy trail intersects in about a mile, now giving you two options for the middle reaches. Cowboy itself intersects Big Canyon and South Rim, therein expanding your downhill options exponentially. Crites Connect is another renowned downhill heading off Telegraph Ridge, the map showing it as a more direct route searing plunge, down to Carbon Junction TH. All told, between Horse Gulch and Telegraph networks, there’s a good three or four solid days of riding different trail combo’s before you’ve mapped them all, figured out your favorite sequences.

This year I also benefited from the girl’s soccer tourney games hosted on the play fields of Fort Lewis College. Negotiating Powerline Trail down to Horse Gulch proved an adventure in navigation unto itself, taking two attempts to work out correctly, don’t ask. Done correctly, FLC to Horse gulch adds a coupla bonus miles to your singletrack fun, with the bonus satisfaction of traversing the entire network North to South, cool.

RE: my favorites thus far:
Horse Gulch:
  • Horse Gulch to Telegraph Ridge, Anasazi down, to Stacy’s to Meadow, up Cuchillo South. Once at the top of the Gulch, opt for either Mike’s Trail (nice name, that) or Cuchillo North back to Meadow back to Horse Gulch. Cuchillo offers some nice jumps and whoopty-do’s at speed for intermediate/expert riders.
  • Cautionary Note: on no account whatsoever upon exiting Anasazi, do not ever take the entrance to Secret Trail uphill to Mike’s. Secret is not on most maps, has a noticeable ‘entrance’ off Anasazi near the tail end of Mike’s, hence seems to offer ‘credible’, if confusing option to the top of the Gulch. Trust me, to enter from below will most likely turn out to be a near-hallucinogenic exercise in pain, suffering being nearly unrideable for mere mortals on the uphill. (Bring chamois butter, nuf said.) It’s best served by riding downhill, a shortish hikeabike straight up from the top of Mike’s. Secret is mostly steep and twisty, with some improved features to jump if so daring. Mike’s offers more flow at speed, has a much smaller potential death-per-turn ratio that appeals to more riders, IMHO.

To date, I have yet to ride Crites Connect to Carbon Junction, understand it’s a hoot and not to be missed. Next trip, believe you me: sooo many trails, soooo little time. That said:
  • Tel Ridge up to Sidewinder, down to Cowboy, to Big Canyon proved the most consistent fun: mixture of exposed slopes, twisty meadows, tight scrub oak runs that’ll impart that particular sense of flight as you meld into the bike. Maybe 4 miles downhill, 90% pure, undistilled singletrack, schweet.
  • Second day I opted for Sidewinder-Cowboy-South Rim, with 2-track interruption in the middle of the mesa that was underwhelming. Studying the maps, I see I could’ve kept on Cowboy a good bit longer before intersecting South Rim. Guess that’s next trip, huh?
next up- vid and trailmaps to follow~

Saturday, May 8, 2010

death of me

Super secret trail was nearly the death of me last year, such is the fate for the unprepared.  
Not this year tho!  Reversed direction, makes for fun techy downhill.