We also had planned to do the something a little out of the ordinary for bikepackers....
ride a free gondola to the top of a mountain. What?! Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy but I figured it is there, why not use it.
After getting to the summit of the free gondola, we took Prospect Trail down, back to the the south side of Telluride to ride the Galloping Goose Trail.
The Galloping Goose is one of the first rails to trails system that developed in the 80s. It has a typical railroad grade after you ride the singletrack.
As usual, the "typical" trail did not disappoint us with views. Besides a few families, we had the entire trail to ourselves. In fact, we only saw a handful of cyclists all day on both the Galloping Goose and later the East Fork.
We rode on the shores of Trout Lake where we filled up on some water.
Aaron's new method of filtering water is the squeeze method, from Sawyer. Great idea, at least as long as you don't puncture the bag that you have to squeeze.
Before hitting the highway, we had a quick lunch on the Galloping Goose. Aaron made some fancy ramen noodles while I snacked on some fruit. He counted up his calories while we were sitting there and decided that he might have gone a little sparingly at the market that morning. I had three mountain house dinners and plenty of snacks to make the proposed 2-night trip back to Durango.
The new plan, we decided, would be to push it back in two days.
East Fork Trail with Lizard Head in the background
There was some construction on the highway near Lizard Head; in fact, there was a shuttle car that we timed perfectly!
We turned onto East Fork. Western Spirits says that "discretionary riders will walk some short sections." Short sections is right, but I was surprised how much we ended up walking toward the end of this trail. I'd like to think it was because of the trail conditions.
Buff singletrack anyone?
It's hard NOT to stop and smell the flowers
We started pushing our bikes before the trail connected with the Colorado Trail.
The Colorado Trail
Once we got on the Colorado Trail, it was high country riding....Colorado is the place to be this time of year, arguably one of the most incredible places I have been. In fact, tt was not until I was 19 that I ever visited Colorado, even later on in life before I got to *experience* this kind of Colorado. Needless to say, I like to savor my time up here above 11,000+ feet.
The amount of pictures from the DSLR camera prove it. Frequent stops, where possible, is the plan. Take a picture and continue. Although the pictures only hold a fraction of the what really transpired during the ride.
Deer enjoying a beautiful afternoon
We stopped and talked to one hiker (shown above) and he reminded us of the 22-mile stretch of trail that does not have water. I chuckled and thought that maybe I would have a dry tent in the morning if that was the case. Very few rain drops during the 5-night trip while we were sleeping, just dew at night.
We had been riding for about 8 hours when we got to Blackhawk. Aaron needed nearly bonked and had to stop for about 30 minutes to make some more food. I got a little worried and started to assume the worst (he also had blisters on his feet).
It's sometimes hard riding with someone for several days, especially in the backwoods. Frankly, I thought Aaron was starting to crash and I started to really question his motive for stopping. Blisters and bonking sounded like a recipe for disaster.
These are not symptoms of immediate panic (although they could be) rather simply a mere discomfort that is common when bikepacking. Aaron knew what he was doing; clearly, I did not.
After eating and talking to the hiker (we sat for sometime, so the hiker that we had previously conversed with caught us), we continued our trip.
Not only was Aaron ready, he was crushing it the rest of the day
We loaded up on 120 ounces of water and pedaled until the sun started to set.
We took out the map at 6:30, thinking we were going to set up camp. More singletrack beckoned us.
We finally made camp at the beginning of Highline, but not before riding 12 hours. A big ride, seeing as we had only ridden about 7-10 hours on each of the previous days. Sleeping at 11,000+ feet, looking down into Hermosa and over at peaks we had crossed was a fitting place to camp that night.
It was dry that night. Clothes finally started to dry. For dinner, we ate some disgusting "healthy" freeze dried meal (it was not a Mountain House) that we had bought in Telluride. There is nothing worse than riding all day only to eat some bad food, healthy or not.
I almost fired up the stove and ate my spaghetti mountain house that I still had left. My eyes got the best of me and I opted for bed instead.