Bear Bait Snags a PeakOk, if you're going to be traveling in potential bear country its best if you don't linger around cooking bacon (and then eat said bacon) just before venturing out.
I wasn't too worried about bears for my No Responsibilities Day today, but Mandy asked me as she was cooking bacon and pancakes this morning if I would be near bears. Of course then I couldn't stop thinking about my smokey aroma while tromping through the woods.
Buffalo Creek 9:45am - I parked at a gate along CR 126 where two other vehicles were parked. I unloaded my mountain bike and my pack and headed east from CR 126 toward Long Scraggy Peak along a fire road just south of Spring Valley Ranch. It was a nice road, but snowy in the shade. I wiped out within 10 minutes, my wheels skated out from under me in the snow. I banged my right shin pretty hard and it bruised my pride, but I got right back up and pedaled on.
Then a few minutes later I noticed a rut in the shade of a tree just a second before hitting it. I slammed on both brakes, stopped just before the rut, but flew over my handlebars.
I was going to have to be more careful.
I followed the winding road for a little over four miles and picked a dark shady spot to hide my bike and then I headed up the North West Ridge of Long Scraggy Peak.
Eventually I picked up a well worn and cairned trail which led me all the way to the summit with fantastic views along the way. I met four people with their dog counterparts just below the summit. They were coming down. So I ended up having the summit to myself. I hung out for about 45 minutes. I texted Mandy to let her know I had made it to the summit and then she called and we chatted while she was stuck in traffic on 6th.
It was sunny, blue skies and absolutely no wind. In fact it was so quiet it was somewhat creepy.
Long Scraggy Peak is very prominent. It sits high above the surrounding terrain and drops off steeply on all sides, except the North Ridge. The views are incredible. You can see 360 degrees unobstructed and you can easily pick out Turkshead Peak over Waterton Canyon, the Malay Archipelago (climbing areas), the South Platte Valley, Devil's Head, Deckers, Pikes Peak, Thunder Butte, Green Mountain (and a sliver of Buffalo Peak behind it), Little Scraggy Peak, Windy Peak and the Castle over Wellington Lake, the Mount Evans Massif and surrounding peaks, The Dome, Cathedral Spires, the Buffalo Creek fire scar and Raleigh Peak.
Ah, Raleigh Peak...my second objective for the day. Soon I'd be heading that way...
I lingered for awhile, taking in the view, familiarizing myself with the features I saw. I ate a bit, almost finished off my water and then began losing elevation.
It took me a few minutes less to descend back to my bike than it had taken to climb up to the summit, then I was headed back west toward CR 126.
But the road had thawed somewhat since I rode out and it felt like I was trying to ride my bike over sand dunes. The ride back sapped my energy.
I got to the car around 2pm and knew I was quickly losing daylight.
I decided I would go ahead and get as far as I could. I drove a little ways back north on CR 126 to the junction with the Colorado Trail which I picked up there and rode north toward Raleigh Peak Road and Top of the World Campground (closed).
Once I got close to the road I left the trail and hiked up a low ridge to a bend in the road. That's where I met Mr. Mountain Biker (see below).
I headed out Raleigh Peak Road through the mind boggling Buffalo Creek fire area (it felt like I was mountain biking through Mordor) but it turned out that the road rolled more than I had anticipated and after a few climbs my legs felt transparent. I got within a mile of Raleigh Peak, but when I noticed it was 3pm I decided to head back. If I had pressed on to the summit I could have made it back to Raleigh Peak Road before dark, but I wouldn't have made it to my car before dark.
So after a semi-gruelling return ride I was in my car and headed east and down.
I eased into my spot out front of our building an hour and fifteen minutes or so after leaving Buffalo Creek. I dragged my stiff body out of the car and as I passed through the gate and walked down the narrow corridor between our building and the house next door I could smell a wonderful aroma of cooking coming from our apartment.
Mandy had fixed a fantastic Chicken Parmesan and I was ravenous. It was a good day.
I know I can get out to Raleigh Peak the way I went today, I was just spanked from my venture up Long Scraggy. I was a little disappointed, but I just have a great excuse to go back out there so its all good.
Mr. Mountain BikerOn my peak bagging adventure today I came across a guy along Raleigh Peak Road.
I was dressed for hiking, not riding, wearing my sticky rubber approach shoes, button up Columbia shirt and my fuzzy hat instead of a helmet. I definitely looked like a noob or a gumby for sure. Didn't care at all...I was bagging peaks.
I had cut cross country from Colorado Trail to RPR because I really wanted to be on the road instead of the trail. I hit the road a few yards from a buy with a full suspension MTB and he was pumping furiously on his tire.
"Need some help?" I asked.
He looked up and replied: "I've got a slow leak."
He pumped a few more strokes and then added. "This is my second pump in two rides and this one has broken too."
I walked toward him slipping my pack off. "I've got a pump."
He sort of half heartedly looked up and said, "It's probably not set up...do you have...Presta valves?"
"Yeah." I replied.
He sort of stood and started looking intently at the ground but threw me a glance too late as he said: "Usually more serious cyclists will have Prest...uh." And he cut off.
I just grinned.
He was still looking for the part that had come out of his pump, and I happened to see it.
"Here you go." I said as I handed it to him.
"Thanks." He replied without meeting my eye.
After a minute or so he finally said: "I guess I will use it...while you're right here."
"Oh," I said, realizing he meant my pump, "OK!"
I dug it out of my pack and handed it to him. He pumped furiously for a minute or so and handed it back to me with a thanks. We had exchanged a little more small talk before both of us got on our bikes and headed the same way, out toward Raleigh Peak. I hung back a little to let him, the "more serious cyclist" go on ahead.
On the third hill I passed him as he weaved all over and within a few minutes I realized I had left him far behind. I didn't see him again until I turned back and had ridden for about five minutes.