Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Crested Butte Day 2: Doctor's Park is what the doctor ordered

Rewind to camping

In my last post I forgot to mention the camping situation.  By the time Drew's schedule for September was finalized, it was much too late to make campground reservations for Labor Day weekend.  Instead, I managed to reserve Sunday night at Onemile Campground, a U.S. Forest Service campground up the Taylor Creek drainage. Friday night, as you saw, we pulled in late to a campground outside of Gunnison. Saturday, our first order of business (after espresso and breakfast, duh) was to find a camp spot for Saturday night.  I was apprehensive that Onemile campground would have any available spots, but it was worth a shot before we forged on up toward Crested Butte and higher elevation, undeveloped camping*.  We were in luck! Site number 9, which just happened to be the best site at Onemile campground, had just opened up as we pulled in, so we snagged it and set up camp.

*Undeveloped means no electrical hookups.  There was a time in my camping career that I would have preferred to be unplugged.  Spending the chilly nights in a cozy van that has an electric heater and electric hot water have changed me. 

Site 9 at Onemile Campground on Taylor Creek.  Excellent flat parking, water hydrant close enough to hook a hose to the van when needed, lots of trees for privacy and well spaced sites, clean restrooms, friendly hosts, quite neighbors; can't do better than that.

Enough about the camping. What about the riding?

For day 2 we chose Doctor Park and did it as a loop from our campground.

Most people shuttle Doctor Park. We chose to ride up the 10 miles of mostly gravel road. We like to earn our beer.

A pit stop to break up the road ride. Drew is fascinated by the rocks.
 The fun begins at the Spring Creek crossing. 

Since we did not have a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle like those pansies on the other side, we had to take our two-footed two-wheeled vehicle though the icy cold creek.
 Actually, the fun had not yet begun.  We had to climb up to where the fun starts, and while we were doing that, it rained.
Note the very muddy road.
 It rained a lot. It rained so much that a car that was following us on the road slid off the track. It rained so much we had to push our bikes. It rained so much that when we tried to start riding again, this happened:

Drew trying to un-stick a rock that had wedged itself in his bottom pivot. Meanwhile, I spent a good 20 minutes de-mudding my bike to the point where the wheels would turn again.
 But just like a good summer thunderstorm, that one passed and by the time we reached the tippy top of the trail at almost 11,000 feet elevation, we had sunshine and 90% tacky (10% muddy) singletrack on which to giggle down the mountain.

Doctor Park trail zigs and zags toward the trees. There were miles of this stuff. Happy face.
 Not all the trail was skinny buff bliss, a good chunk was technical rock gardens, just to keep things interesting.

Rock garden on Doctor Park

The last couple of miles of trail lose a lot of elevation, fast.  This is how they do it:

Steeply descending trail using anchored cinder block to armor the trail against wash outs.  Very effective. Very fun to ride.
After hours of trails, we finally popped out at the campground next to the one we were staying at. A mile of pavement back to up our camp took us to frosty cold beers, warm water for washing the mud off, and an evening of cooking and eating the best Pad Thai in the universe.

Modesty while showering from the flexible handheld shower head attached to the kitchen sink is a luxury we can afford in our van.

Nature's kitchen.

The day's stats: 3 hrs 43 min ride time.  22.5 miles. 3470 feet of climbing.

So after that, we elevated the trip to epic status.

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