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.

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