Monday, July 25, 2016

San Juan 2016 Tour Day 2

 We woke up after the first night with a stunning view. The traditional, bikepacking breakfast for me has always been oatmeal, coffee (Starbucks via)  and some fruit. It's fast, yet healthy.

Tearing down camp was a little slower because Lee was not feeling well the night before. His nausea and dizziness could easily be attributed to the elevation. On previous trips, he had always been living in Leadville; now he resides in Tucson most of the year at 2500 feet above sea level.

I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the camp while camp was broken down. We had a great start to this trip once we got on the trail and this first night's camping spot was stunning.

We started to roll at about 8 a.m heading toward the Colorado Trail. Lee was still not feeling well so the planned pace was going to be slow.

This allowed for many stops along the way.

And, of course, a some hike-a-bike

...and more hike-a-bike.

We stopped for lunch in a beautiful bed of wildflowers, eating some bars and fruit. Lee had scouted out on Topofusion an unknown route down Bear Canyon. It was barely a trail on maps, making a possible adventure in the works. The trail connects into Colorado Trail just east of Twin Sisters.

We actually saw Cat on the trail. After a brief chat about Bear Canyon, one of her friends confirmed what we had assumed: adventure. She gave us some beta saying that it started near where we were talking. We found the trail and started taking it despite the GPS saying that the trail was higher. We even saw two runners that were exploring the area for the same trail. Unfortunately, the trail quickly disappeared. Upon further bushwacking, Scott decided to go higher in elevation without his bike while Lee and I stayed with the bikes. He did find the trail but not before we opted to just take the Colorado Trail. Later on in the evening, we did see a cairn where the trail hit the Million Dollar Highway.

We continued down the Colorado Trail and on toward Silverton for food....hamburgers and french fries. Lee and Scott decided to nap while I went down to take a dip in the river. Ahhhhhh.

We met up for the final push up the Million Dollar Highway toward Bear Pass Road that would take us toward Telluride. The paved road had a good number of cars. If you are planning to do this route, I would recommend that you add a day in just climb the roads/trails outside of Silverton that would connect with Red Pass.

As we got closer, we realized that there was a pilot car that was about 1-mile long. When we go there, the pilot car had stopped, but the CDOT had placed and automatic stoplight in said location. We asked for a ride from a random truck; it turned out to be some construction workers doing some stuff in Durango. They were super nice and gave us a ride to Bear Pass Road.

We rode up about 3 miles and set up camp in a valley with two beautiful waterfalls in the distance. The resupply in Silverton made for great dinner options...plenty of sanwiches, chips, bars, etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

San Juan 2016 Tour Day 1

The San Juan National Forest has become one of my favorite places to visit in the southwest. The colors above treeline are unmatched. The green, red, yellow and white (snow) make me want to move to this area full time.

Early in 2016, I hatched an idea to return to this area to Lee Blackwell. Later, as we were talking about plans, Scott began to chime in about routes and possibly joining us. As with any tentative plan, it is hard to nail out the details early. The goal was about 5-6 days of bikepacking.

Lee worked on the GPX files up into our departure, adding in some new-to-us trails. Scott was already in CO and we planned to meet in Durango. I was having some problem with my tubeless setup that extended into our planned departure. We left a few hours late because of the tubeless issue.

We parked and made our way up Cascade to the Colorado Trail

Scoping out where we are going from Cacade

This area always makes me want more.

Colorado Trail

"This looks like a painting," Scott said. 

After riding the CT for a few miles, we veered off on Engineer to do the lower, more scenic option.

Wildflowers were starting to bloom this week. I can't imagine rushing through this trip; in fact, that was the general mood of the entire trip. Blue skies were in the forecast for the next 7 days. What a treat! This time of year is typically monsoon season.

Ride, talk, relax, snack....and then repeat. 

We found a spring and decided to stop a little early with the above view of Engineer. Pizza + Engineer, it is hard to beat that winning combo.

View of the camp

Sunset over camp

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Dragoons Day 2

After the first day of riding out of Tombstone, we slowly had breakfast and coffee. It was a very, very slow morning. I think we finally left around 8am. 

This time of year (January, lows are in the 20s-30s) does not see a lot of camping. I think we spotted 3 trailers/campers on the way to Slavin Gulch Trail. 

Using the GPX file from Sky Island Traverse, we tried to find a connection of Slavin Gulch Trail. This trail would have allowed us to not use Slavin as an out-n-back. Needless to say, it did not work so we turned around and continued on the singletrack that splits of Slavin Gulch at the beginning.

This section of the trail is beautiful. This is where you might see another cyclist in the fall/spring time. During January though, we only saw 6 hikers during the entire trip and no mountain bikers.

After some exploring, we found a trail that veers from paralleling FR 687 and heads directly toward Council Rocks. You go through the green gate and around some fun, technical trails to arrive at the petroglphys and metates.

We explored some of the singletrack in this area and realized that you can ride directly from the Council Rocks to FR 688 on singletrack. I will have both options in the GPS file when I post it.

The dirt road FR 688 (shown below) will take you to the Trail #279, but the other option would be to do an out-n-back to the Butterfield Stage Station (mentioned earlier). Due to time constraints, we headed directly to Trail #279 and toward Cochise Stronghold.

Not a bad dirt road given the views

Commence hike-a-bike.........NOW!

We pushed up some of the switch back sections. I would have liked to blame it on the pack, but I am also a little out of shape.

Later on, we opted for a scouting trip to Middlemarch Trail #277. What started out great became a HAB, probably about 40-45 minutes of pushing up a steep, eroded section of singletrack. We eventually popped out at Canal Spring (shown above) and FR 4388.

Given time constraints, we had to NOT ride up toward Cochise Peak and down Slavin Gulch Trail #332 (that is the same one we did an out-n-back on). Given this write-up that I had read before, it seemed that the trail might be even more HAB.

A pretty place to ride.

Back to Tombstone for some beer and food. 

We did find and alternate route instead of taking the highway. But honestly, I would start in the city of Dragoon next time like I mentioned. Tombstone is overwhelming and too far of a drive from Tucson.

The stats:
49 miles
5600 feet of climbing
7.18 hours of moving time

Click here to see the GPX file from this loop. It is NOT cleaned up yet. I would recommend that you DO NOT do Middlemarch Trail and just continue on toward Cochise Stronghold #279.

How to get to the Dragoons:

Take I-10 East to the first Benson exit, stay on that road and head toward Tombstone, shortly before reaching Tombstone take a left on Middlemarch Road, which is a good dirt road and go approximately 8-miles to a “Y” at forest service road 687 where you will go left and park. It is around 11-miles from this point to the end of the road. If you want to make the ride shorter, drive farther up 687 and park.

How to get to Tombstone:

Take I-10 East to the first Benson exit, stay on that road and head toward Tombstone. You can park anywhere off the main drag that allows public parking. We parked on 4th.


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