Friday, September 20, 2013

An "easy" day in the valley

I had planned to do two rides that went to high elevations in Sun Valley. One was the Fourth of July loop I did in wintry conditions Wednesday, the other was a loop out to Pioneer Cabin east of town. The Bald Mountain loop on Thursday was fulfilling enough that I didn't need to start another ride on Friday with a nearly 4000ft climb that potentially entailed a lot of hike-a-bike. So I settled on some of the trails north of town that sat at lower elevations just outside the recent burn area. I figured if they didn't go too high, the climbing couldn't be too challenging, right?

It was cold again overnight, in the 20's in town. The temp was expected to rise rapidly into the 70's. I waited a bit for it to warm slightly. Within 30 minutes of heading out, I stripped off all the long layers.

The Chocolate Gulch loop was open and I didn't make it up that far yesterday. I gave it a go. Turns out the trail that hugs the Wood River is quite challenging. Lots of exposure on scree traverses and super steep, punchy climbs, greater than 20% grade. My legs totally rebelled.

I erroneously turned onto Trail 313, thinking it was the turn for Chocolate Gulch. I didn't have a prepared GPS track for this ride, so I was just winging it with a map. This trail was gnarly. A mis-shift resulted in a snapped chain when I was forced to shift under power. I haven't snapped a chain in about 12 years. I use Shimano chains and carry spare pins with me. No biggie, except that was a brand new drivetrain.

Back on track, I found the Chocolate Gulch loop to do nothing but climb at double-digit grades or descend at double-digit grades. This was way more work than what I signed up for. The views from crests were pretty good though.

The terrain got even steeper on Harper's. The Garmin hit 20% multiple times. So much for an "easier" last day. At the rate I was going, I would end up with more vertical than had I done the ride out to Pioneer Cabin.

The descents were turn-your-rotors-blue affairs. Fun, but you really had to stay focused. Lots of loose, rutted material to keep you alert.

I had a hard cut-off for today's ride. I fly back on Southwest on Saturday, so I needed to be back to my computer 24hrs before my flight so I didn't end up in the back row middle seat. So should I attempt to climb to the top of Eve's, or not? I rode part way up Eve's the day before, high enough to pick up the Forbidden Fruit trail.

I went for it. I thought it would all be like the lower portion. It wasn't. It got steeper as it went, grades peaking around 20% occasionally too. Most of the climbing on this ride seemed to be over 12%. I was going to come scary close to making it back in time. I kept seeing what looked like the pass, but you get there and see another wall to scale. I didn't really know what the summit elevation was, just that most locals ride this as an out and back, as the other side is a mess.

I was disappointed there was no immediate view at the 8000ft crest. Tree covered. I had no time to hunt around for one either. It was time to plummet 2000+ feet back to town. The descent was wicked crazy, marbly surface, blind turns with very steep drops to outside, and potential for other riders coming up. Several riders came down during my climb. Wicked fun though. Virtually no pedaling was needed, just lots of heavy braking.

I didn't bother with Forbidden Fruit or Shady Side this time, taking Eve's all the way down pretty much monotonically. The lower portion opens up at less insane pitch for some serious speed. At least the descent took much less time than I expected. I made it back to hotel with time to spare.

Another great ride in Sun Valley. I end up with just as much climbing as the day before.  The weather couldn't have been better. Too bad the fires took out most of the trails. I just read in the paper that the trail I most wanted to ride here, the Osberg Ridge Trail, could be closed for three years. With recent rain, there have been major erosion issues, with valleys filling with silt feet deep. I would like much to come back here, and I don't want to have to wait three years. There are hundreds of miles of trails left to explore. Here's a few photos from today's ride.

Starting out on Fox Creek Loop

Fox Creek trail along Wood River

An open spot on Chocolate Gulch loop

Descent on Chocolate Gulch

Open view on Harper's

Climbing on Adam's Gulch loop. This was stupid steep and you were sure it would let up
around each bend, but no.

Looking down Adam's Gulch loop

An old-growth specimen on Griffin Butte connector

Near the top of Eve's, looking through 2007 burn

Part way down Eve's, a lot of the upper part of this trail was exposed and loose like this.

Bottom of Eve's. Wide open speedfest here.


jason_ssc1 said...

Such beautiful photos especially with the bluebird skies. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Awesome photos Doug!