Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On top of the World....

....at least as close as I've ever been!

One day after getting the stitches out and being cleared by the doctor, we had scheduled to go up to Salida and bike the Continental Divide, also known as the Monarch Crest trail!

We really love Salida, in the banana belt of the mountains, the weather always seems to be fabulous there! We found these great little cabins along the Arkansas river to stay. The activities around the area are endless; superb biking, hiking, horse back riding, rafting, hot springs and unique little restaurants. We went up with our friends David and Aliza.

The girls dropped us off at the top of Monarch Pass where our adventure would begin. The girls had their own plans....

...they rented ATV's to ride some of the very same trail we were going to ride but we had nearly 30 miles to go before we would meet up with them!

We started at 11,300', but our goal was 12,600; So the trail started out with a 3.5 mile climb to get us to the summit! I've gotten a lot better at climbing at altitude in the past year, but still have a lot of trouble over 10,000'. This is only the second time I have ridden my bike at this elevation. The views all around us were amazing! Here is David making his way towards the summit.

Almost there! That peak just to my left at 12,600'. The landscape up that high isn't much more then granite. The sun was intensely hot but we had a very cold stiff wind I guess had to be over 20 mph! We spent the next 12 miles going in and out of the treeline between 10,000 and 12,000 feet. The terrain kept changing from the open, rocky area you see here to dense, twisty forest with pine needle lined trail. It for a fantastic bike ride with a little bit of everything thrown in to keep you on your toes!

Here is a poorly drawn graphic of our general path in and out of the treeline as we made our way back down from the summit.

We made our decent along, and sometimes in, the Silver creek. Near the end of the ride, a blazing fast 5 mile 4X4 road(I saw 32 mph on the computer) back into town, we ran into these 2 crazy girls on quads!

We knew they would riding some of the same trail, but we never figured we'd actually run into them out there!

The girls' had a blast on the quads and they were glad they chose the non guided tour so they go where they wanted....as fast as they wanted :)

We finished the day with a fabulous dinner at the Laughing Ladies in downtown Salida, and a long hot tub. This was my first big epic ride, nearly 5 hours, since we moved here....and I can't wait to do another one!