Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Crested Butte Day 4: Reno Flag Bear Deadmans Epic

For our last big ride day in Crested Butte, we chose to ride a big loop called Reno Flag Bear Deadman's.  The gist is: up, down, up, down, up, DOWN!

Up #1: Reno

Access to the trail head is up Cement Creek.  From the parking area we road up forever on a dirt road called the Reno Divide Road.  After about 5 or 6 miles of mostly forested dirt road climbing, read "Lucy wants to shoot herself", we topped out on Reno Ridge.

Major views from Reno Ridge

Down #1: Flag 

Our first reward was the descent of Flag Creek Trail.
Drew (tiny speck almost to the trees) ripping down Flag Creek trail.
It was so very fun.  Mostly smooth 1-track at a slope where you needed few brakes and few pedal strokes. I love that kind of riding.
We get to go down there, all the way to the bottom and then we will turn right and go up the next drainage.

One of the many beaver dams throughout this drainage.

Up #2: Bear

At the bottom of the Flag Creek drainage, we hung a hard right to head up Bear Creek Trail, which isn't actually in Bear Creek drainage.  Nevertheless, it was a bear of a climb.

A few hike-a-bike sections slowed us down on Bear Creek climb.

More of the climb up Bear Creek Trail. All in all, a nice long climb.

Down #2: Bear

Our second reward was down the actual Bear Creek drainage, still on Bear Creek Trail.

Jean Luc Picard is set to enjoy the ride, or maybe he just likes to sit on my donut head set cover.  All that flying on the helm maybe gave him hemorrhoids.

The top of the Bear Creek descent
I couldn't be bothered to take more pictures of Bear Creek. This descent was phenomenal. In addition to the flowey singletrack int he picture, there were several treed sections with roots and rocks just to the limit of our abilities. If there were an easy way to shuttle this, it would be insanely popular, but since its a bit out there, we saw only two other riders all day, plus one group of motorcyclists.

Up #3: Deadman Gulch

We were 15 miles in, still far from the car, and pretty tired.  At the bottom of Bear Creek, we looked up the Deadman Gulch drainage we had yet to climb and decided to take a little break.  Just then a group of 5 or 6 motorcyclists pulled up and said hi before they blasted off up the long climb ahead of us with the turn of a wrist. 
Motos riding away from us in a puff of dust. Sort of jealous. Not really.
But we knew we were earning our downhill and had the chance to stop now and then to observe nature and lament about our tired legs.
The valley was chock full of beaver dams.
After two and a half miles of thinking we would never get to the top, we finally crested out and began our last descent.

Down #3: Deadman's

The last amazing downhill was gnarly, in a good way. There are 32 switchbacks in about half a mile and they are steep, rooty, and fun.
Descending Deadman's. Rad trail.

It doesn't get any better than this.
What an epic ride! 

After post ride snacks and beverages at the van, we headed back toward Onemile Campground. Since cooking dinner was out of the question.  We stopped at the little community of Almont for dinner at the Almont Resort, a lovely lodge on the East River with good food and friendly service.

Finally, back to the van for our last night of vacation. I try not to use the term "epic" too often, but there is no denying day 4 was epic, which only made the entire trip more epic.

The day's stats: 3 hrs 40 min ride time.  18.5 miles. 3504 feet of climbing.

The end

In the morning, when I tried to roll over on our hard camper bed I massively wrenched my back, which put me in a painful, rigid state all day.  Drew had to pack up camp as quickly as he could so we could make it to our scheduled massages in Salt Lake City that evening.  It was a long drive, with me driving about 100 miles of easy freeway before I gave up and just sat upright in the passenger seat, missing all my usual rubbernecking out the window at rock outcrops. It was a painful trip. The massage was good, but I was laid up for a few more days afterward.  But hey, that's the price you pay for an epic mountain bike vacation when you are out of shape to begin with. 

Crested Butte was great; the trails, the scenery, the town, the camping, and especially the company.

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