Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Crested Butte Day 3: 401 hours of fun

Our spectacular Crested Butte vacation was having less than spectacular weather.  I had wanted to save the 401 trail for a blue-bird sunny day, since this trail is renowned for breathtaking scenery and calendar-worthy photos, but the forecast was shutting down that probability, so we just decided to go for it on day 3. 

To do this as a loop ride, we started out at the old mining town site of Gothic and settled in for the long gravel/mud road ride to Schofield pass.

On the road to Schofield pass.

Emerald Lake was more of a turquoise color on this day.
At the pass we caught the trail and then climbed and hiked some more.  The trails were very muddy and dark clouds threatened again.
The top of the ride on the 401 trail above Schofield Pass.

Mount Bellview, and is that a glacial moraine in the foreground? I never noticed it until I looked at this picture.  I was too concerned that day about getting down off the high country.
 After a moderately serious shower, the sun decided to pop out now and then to prove the grandeur of the 401.

That's Gothic Mountain to the right and smiley Drew to the left.
 The trail was mostly intermediate-skill singletrack. There were a few more technical sections, and some parts that we had to "negotiate".
This part of the trail was marked on the map as "impassable to horses". It was damn near impassable to mountain bikers too.

Not many wildflowers in bloom this time of year, but the fall colors were nice nonetheless. The relatively easy trail allowed us opportunity to marvel at the scenery.

Those are some seriously nasty trail conditions.
 We had been rained on, we were tired and thirsty, and the map showed a way back to the main road over a creek crossing near Rustler Gulch trailhead so we checked it out. 
Not a happy place to ford.
 Creek crossing no kidding!  We watched a pickup truck drive through up to its floorboards. We decided we would rather ride another 3.3 miles of trail than swim that one.

I'm a wimp for not riding this, but it was slippery!

Obligatory smiling selfie complete with amazing scenery and goofy bike attire.

We managed to avoid a major deluge and see the grand vistas.
 The last three miles made the warm dry clothes waiting back at the van all that much nicer.

Happy Dewey awaits at the end of the trail.

Mount Crested Butte.
The route back to the van passed directly through the town of Crested Butte, so what else were we to do besides partake in the funky atmosphere and free WiFi of Secret Stash pizzeria before retiring to our Onemile campsite to rest for tomorrow's big ride.

The day's stats: 3 hrs 1 min ride time.  13.2 miles. 2402 feet of climbing.

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