Tuesday, September 28, 2010

phil's world, cortez co

So what's the skinny on Phil's World trails you ask?  Well, lemmetellya-

I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, 2.5 miles from the trailhead as it turns out.  And while I'd like to represent how I mastered all those jumps on Rib Cage, that would be stretching the truth a bit much, even for this ole angler.  

But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night,  baddaboom!  Thank you thank you, be here all week.

Ahem, sorry bout that.


Picture a trail network winding in and around a sagebrush-and-pinon rimrock mesa, much like High Desert Trail.  Throw in a bit of technical chunk from Horse Thief Bench, some kray-zee Otero downhill.  For good measure, add to that a fair amount of Kessel Run snakyness, you'll start to get an idea of the tread offered out at Phil's World.  

But wait, there's more.  Much, much more.

sorry, only crappy cell phone pics for ya this goround

All of that plethora of tread is just your appetizer to the main course.  The piece de resistance is a brilliant coupla miles of alternating grin and cold-sweat inducing whoopty-doos on a grand scale.

Think Shaun White's half pipe at the Winter Olympics and you begin to get a sense of what the Rib Cage has to offer.  

Well maybe not really for many of you pros out there, but Rib Cage certainly felt that way for this mere mortal...

Starts out calm enuf, but you're soon diving headlong into your first arroyo,  teeth clenched, thankfully on sun-baked, hardened adobe tread.  Speeds instantly up, you crush deep into your suspension as you bottom out, and are soon flying up the other side, your momentum carrying you clear off the tread to top out in a tabletop jump before you know it.   WTF!  Before you can catch your breath wondering what the hell happened, you're already plunging over the lip of the next drop, hanging on for dear life.  god help me!

Momentary terror on the plunge, g-force induced crush at the bottom, fleeting sense-of-relief on the up, followed immediately by a mix of dread and elation as your tires clear the opposing rim and you hope, hope, hope for a controlled landing. 

Wash, rinse, repeat.  In a continuous cycle for like an eternity 10 minutes of alternating hell-and-bliss, riding by the seat of your pants, praying it all ends well. 

Yeah, kinda like that.  

And then when you're done, breathless and a bit dazed at the bottom, you want to go back and do it all over again.  

And again.

sorry, no pics of Rib Cage, I could not stop!   ferreted out the below vid just now, not me as you can't hear the screech of searing brakes at every plunge ;-]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

trail's end

j fargo's stout microbrew- yum

greetings from cortez co!

you gotta put Phil's World on your list- wow! 

Phil's World

mixing pleasure with business- and no, the fact my meeting is 2.5 miles from the trailhead remains a strange and happy coincidence!

Road trip

Monday, September 20, 2010

season's end 2010

Brought the boy up for one more fishing adventure before the high country season draws to a close.  

We chose a familiar locale, convenient to aspens and cutthroats both.

high sticking

Low water + fishing pressure the day before made for catching a good deal tougher than otherwise desired, we mostly tag-teamed each cast to make the best of it.

 Dad casting in, the boy taking care of business from there on out.

bringing the heat
the release
We landed some fine-enuf specimens, although not near what yesterday's lucky angler surely brought to hand.   Well, I guess you gotta dance with the girl what brung ya, huh?

big male
Catching aside, the fishing proved absolutely stellar, much as I had hoped for the lad.  Temps up to around 70, not a breath of wind, endless cobalt skies capping the waves of brilliant gold cascading down the steep slopes.  Sigh...a sight to behold alright.

meadow hike
Down below, the deep canyon remained in twilight all day, the sun cutting the rim but in a few places only.  

dark canyon
Made finding the fly a chore in itself, our stalking constantly interrupted with '...can't see the fly, can you?....wait- is that it?...' from both of us in just about every pool.


It was gratifying to see the boy's skills progress, 

...catch a familiar gleam in his eye as he recounted one tale or another from our last visit up this way.

autumn gold
dos amigos

Building memories.  

For both of us, really.

 I call that a day's good work, done.

local wildlife

Sunday, September 19, 2010

autumn gold

the boy and I went in search of aspens and cutthroats Sunday.  We found a bit o both~

Monday, September 13, 2010

monarch crest

the monarch crest experience
 So what happened to the Monarch Crest ride I was playing up?  Well, I'll tell you~

You may remember Friday over Labor Day weekend had me making tracks down the CT/CDT/Silver Creek/Rainbow Trail.

Saturday had us exploring the Arkansas Mountain Trail System across the river from Absolute Bikes, fun for the whole fam damily.  Capped our ride in the mid day heat with a cooldown swim in the Ark right in town, followed by a sampling of some of the local creamy gelato, yum.

Sunday was our Monarch Crest day, a planned out an back as I had not yet vetted the trail for Team Roughrider, and you don't want to play stoopid at 12,000 feet above sea level.

We awoke Sunday to find the day already windy, gusting through our campground, swirling the aspens around there at 9K.  Bummer that, given we'd start almost 2,500ft higher at the trailhead.  So 10am had us gearing up for the day's adventure in the parking lot of Monarch Pass ski area.  The winds rudely insisted on gusting parking lot sand in our face, seemingly intent on discouraging our small party from attempting our journey into The Unknown.

gearing up
I took a moment to size up my team, trying to gauge their resolve given the less than stellar conditions.  Little buddy was strolling around the Plot, blustery wind in his face, trying to shake off the remnants of car sickness brought on from the twisty drive up to the pass.   The girl took the longest time to armor up, get her camelbak squared away, wishing for yesterdays calm and warm weather I could tell.  Mrs Wulff now, sensing a weakening of spirit, rallied her teammates with visions of lunching on the ridge, soaking up 360d views all around.  


Resolve hardened up, we pushed off up the initial ascent, stopping strategically to wisecrack, catch our breath in the thin air offered at 11K.  Seemed to take a good while before the terrain leveled off and we were able to really enjoy a breather.  Skirting Mt Peck the trail alternated dense forest and ridgetop, finally clearing as we topped the divide at Peck's southern shoulder.

topping out on the CDT
need a breather

The views from the CDT proved just as advertised, prompting a lengthy refueling stop to properly soak in the vistas.

The winds continued to strengthen, prompting us off on our final push- that quintessential peak everyone captures on film.  And for good reason!
destination in sight!

one last slog


We reached our turnaround at the saddle, 3.7miles in.  We did not linger long, as it was getting kinda freaky standing around the narrow ridge, two lightweights  in the party, as the winds continued to build.


Pointing our steeds back downhill, we generated our own winds for a change.  The boy and girl took turns leading the charge, wobbling around on the exposed sections as they fought to counterbalance the wind.  The boy was unceremoniously dumped at one point, a gust pushing his steering right up the grassy bank- man!  Did I mention the wind?
Speeds up, I didn't refuse the offer to lead a bit on my own.  What fun to release the brakes, let the yeti have her head, zoom thru the winding singletrack back down around Peck.  I pulled up just in time to see the boy head over the bars misjudging an off-camber turn, pop back up like an acrobat.  Dang boy, nice dismount! 

quintessential ride
The last mile back to the trailhead, we had our revenge over the steep 2track that gave us so much trouble on the ascent.  We all let 'er fly on the wide track, I stopped for a moment to appreciate the slackjawed looks from the group of young bucks working over a broken chain.  You guys got what you need?  I've got 3 behind me, here they come now!  First the boy, then girl, finally Mrs Wulff herself, shredding that downhill like the pro's they are.  They all pull up in a cloud of dust, give a quick nod to the crowd, and off they go, blasting on down the trail- cya at the bottom Dad!

Dust settled, safely at the parking lot once more, we shed our gear, but not the silly grins on our faces.

Those lasted quite a while.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

wildcat trail

Back on the homefront today- riding cedro peak area: lone pine-pinon-wildcat-tablazon. 

Everything's coming up golden!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

'let's go'

On the last drive, what did Denard say in the huddle? "He just said 'let's go,' and once he said that, I was like 'big players make big plays,' and that's what we did."

UM's QB Denard Robinson takes it to the house in Notre Dame stadium- leads 70 yard drive throwing 5-5 and runs to score game winning TD with 30 secs on the clock.  All told, 502 yds combined total offense & 3 TD's in UM's 28-24 victory. Those are DRob's statistics.

Oh. My. God.

With over 800 combined yards in just 2 games,  you might wanna set your DVR's this season, DRob's gonna set college football's world on fire.

Go Blue!

edit: my apologies to ND fans, you'll want to look away.  Zapruder-style vid of UM's game-winning drive from field level behind end zone.

Like a relentless tide rolling in.


HT: MGoBlog

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

biking the sawatch

view east off the CT/CDT
journey begins
 I guess this tale begins, as most of ours do, with a road trip.  

I've been reading more often lately about biking those trails high up in Colorado's backcountry.  The descriptions, glimpses you read online just seem to grab hold of you, you know?  Traversing ridgetops  high above timberline, swooping thru green mountain meadows, bombing down rocky runs on a wing and a prayer...sounds about right!

Those are some of the very attributes I love so much about fly fishing- the gorgeous places, many times completely remote, untrammeled save by the lucky few.  What with snows still choking the high country until late June, and mountain monsoon season being what it is, it just never seemed like the time to try to head up and get some of that sweet riding done.   What we needed was a nice 3-4 day weekend opportunity after the monsoon season broke  heading into Fall.  

Say like Labor Day, hmmmm...

Team Roughrider seemed up to the challenge, jumped at it even, when I mentioned Salida, CO and the renowned singletrack traversing the Sangres and Sawatch ranges around town.  And for all the trails- Rainbow, Silver Creek, Fooses, one seemed to stand out above the rest:  Monarch Crest.


Now for the uninitiated, such as yours truly, Monarch Crest would seem to push the limits of a moderately average 40-something mountain biker.  Break out some maps, cruise the interweb tubes, you'll soon find the 30-some mile epic ride they grin about can be broken down into 3 roughly 10-mile component trail sections, each with a trailhead accessible by car.   Just finding those bail options mitigates a considerable amount of risk for the first-timer, esp given the youngest members of Team Roughrider are 10 and 8!
So I figured to recon the trail by section, see if there resulted anything I'd be comfortable to take the larger Team on. 

To wit, Friday afternoon found me 10,800ft high in the Sawatch Range, Marshall Pass to be exact, gearing up for the unknowns that awaited on the Colorado and Silver Creek trails.  My route planning had me intersecting the end of the Monarch Trail proper at Marshall Pass, and heading down  up up up the Colorado/CDT 4miles to the intersection of the Silver Creek Trail.  Thereupon, a turn downhill  6 miles would lead to the next trailhead at the Rainbow Trail intersection.  Once on Rainbow Trail, another 10 miles has you back down onto US285 outside of Poncha Springs, back where you started your shuttle up to Marshall Pass.

One last breath, hearty thanks to my shuttle (thx again Erik!), and I'm off.  4 mile ascent up CT/CDT to the Silver Creek Trail was a grunt at times, the altitude sucking the wind and energy right out of you.  The  stellar views west and east off the ridge made for perfect excuses to catch your breath.  The CT/CDT tread proved an even mix of double and single track, more duffy spruce and lodgepole riding really, than ridge riding. 

top of silver creek
The CT/CDT intersects the top of Silver Creek Trail on a stunning saddle with 360d views bracketed by Sheep Mountain and Windy Peaks.

Silver Creek itself begins with an immediate plunging switchback that had my brakes fading well before reaching the green meadow below.  Had to stop a bit just to enjoy the sizzle of camelback water drizzled onto searing rotors- ha!  Sideshow done, time to get back after it!

plunge into silver creek

Silver Creek offered some of the funnest singletrack I've ridden: lush, flowy meadows in the upper reaches transitioning to broken scree hair-raisers in the middle reaches, back to mix of meadow and forest as you approach Rainbow Trail.  

sweet upper meadow track

silver creek chunk

All 6 miles pure, undistilled downhill singletrack- fast, flowy, fun!

Rainbow Trail now, proved a horse of a different color.  Here you really had to work it, as the tread changes from baby heads, to rock gardens, to exposed slopes, back to forest constantly.  
approaching US285
 Just as constantly, it will cut down into drainages, facing you with yet another grind back out.   
looking back where you started: Mount Ouray in background, Marshall Pass sits on its left shoulder
another grunt

The last couple miles were a bit of a chore- energy depleted, adrenaline boost just a distant memory, 2 miles still before US285, I had to hikeabike more than a few times, whew!  

Just when you start hating life, Rainbow seems to make nice with a final searing swithback drop down to US285.  18.7 miles by my bike computer, now that's a ride!

rainbow bisects a twisted grove

Monday, September 6, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

greetings from salida co

arkansas trail network just across the river from Salida proper