Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mars Ridge

I really could have used a rest day after the 55 miler with Luke the day before. But no. I get up, it is going to be another perfect day, and 500 miles of trails are calling me. Another area I could not ride in 2013 due to the fire was Greenhorn Gulch. Part of the greater Sun Valley trail network, it is popular among mountain bikers and dirt bikers alike.

Of course, I can't just drive to the trailhead and do a normal 15-20 mile loop. I would like to do most, if not all rides on this trip right from my hotel. No reason not to, with beautiful paved bike paths leading out of town in every direction. And I can't just do a lollipop loop and come back via bike path either. Oh no. I have to do big, stupid loops that encompass thousand of acres inside the loop.

My route would take me up Imperial Gulch Trail, to Greenhorn Trail, then up on Mars Ridge, down Red Warrior to Warm Springs Rd, then if I have energy (and even if I don't), I'll head up Trail 146 so I can bomb more than 2000 vertical feet back down to town on singletrack. I knew Trail 146 would likely entail hike-a-bike.

Legs felt like poo starting out. Fortunately the grade on Imperial was tolerable with poopy legs. That wouldn't last for long though.  The soil here was quite a bit softer and sandier than where I had ridden previously. The fire might have done that. Plus there was lots of evidence of frequent moto traffic. That would surely keep the trail a little churned up. Just meant I went slower for same energy output. I pretty much had the place to myself, seeing only one mountain biker in the first couple hours.

On Greenhorn Trail, working my way up to Mars Ridge, I realized even if I didn't have poopy legs, I probably wasn't riding up some of the steep scree filled ruts on fall lines. Time to start pushing. Once I popped out on Mars Ridge though, I forgot about how much I suffered getting up there. Another majestic view during a ride. No view obstructions in 360 degrees anywhere close.  Life was good.

Rolling up on the ridge proved challenging. There were more hike-a-bike sections, even some going down, because I'm a wuss. Once I picked up Red Warrior Trail, I thought I could breath easily.

Red Warrior is a bike handlers dream descent. Always a bit sketchy, steep and lots of turns. Numerous small stream water crossings too. Water was deep enough in a couple crossings to wet my feet. For me though, it was mostly death grip on the brakes.

Red Warrior pops out on Warm Springs Rd, a dirt road that can be taken back to town. Frenchman's Hot Spring was right there. I had intended to check it out. There was nobody in the hot pools, but three people were fly fishing in Warm Springs Creek near there. There were a cascade of pools, the upper one fed directly by the spring percolating up through the sandy bottom. It was piping hot and reeked of sulfur! The second pool, a little bigger with some cold stream water mixed in was quite toasty too. The third one down was just right. I decide to take a break and soak for a few minutes.

Did that revive me enough to tackle another 2000ft climb, potentially mostly hike-a-bike? Nooooo, but I don't bring rational thought to these matters. I could have and should have just taken Warm Springs Rd another 5 miles slightly downhill right back to my hotel. My handlebars made the turn for the climb anyway. Funny that my bike does this to me all the time.  At first I thought wow, maybe this is all rideable. Then a short hike-a-bike across talus field. Ride some more, oh, this really hurts. Then I notice the two-track jaunts up at such and angle it made my neck hurt to look at it. It disappeared into infinity at that angle too. Son of a bitch! Not sure how much vertical was gained off the bike, but I bet it could have been more than 30% of that 2000ft.

On Eve's Gulch Trail, I thought I was at the saddle and got ready for a ripping descent. False saddle.  How disappointed I was to find hundreds more feet had to be gain for the real saddle. I did pass a cool cabin I hadn't seen on my last trip when I did out and back on Eve's.

The descent did not disappoint. The burned trees are starting to come down though, and one blocked a switchback in two places. Had to keep speed under control for this reason. Luke was able to jump a downed tree he could not stop in time for the day before, but he would not have been able to jump this chest high tree! I rolled back into town with 43 miles, nearly 6000ft of climbing, in 5.1hrs on the Garmin, another thoroughly satisfying ride.

Bike path heading south out of Ketchum

Natural sky saturation, no photoshop needed!

Imperial Gulch Trail

Cruising along a ridge on Imperial Gulch

From high point at about 8500ft on Mars Ridge viewing Pioneer Mountains in distance

Mars Ridge probably gets its name from the red martian looking rock

Looking along Mars Ridge on the Greenhorn Trail

This was even hard to hike up

Beginning descent on Red Warrior Trail

Bottom of Red Warrior Trail were speed can be run out

Frenchman's Hot Spring. Spring source pool on right, can't quite see water bubbling up.
Middle pool still quite warm, can see where cold Warm Springs Creek feeds in to
moderate temperature. Pool on left was just right.

Frenchman's Hot Spring. Toasty hot in third pool down.

Cabin near saddle at top of Eve's Gulch Trail

Top of Eve's Gulch Trail with bees a buzzing

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