Saturday, September 17, 2016

Haflin Downhill. Final ColoRADo day. Boo.

[Final catch-up post from September Colorado trip. Previously posted on Facebook September 17. An awesome trip, first week pure bluebird weather. Hit many favorite rides, many new areas, and brought hiking-only days into the trip, a first on a Colorado trip.]

Decided to keep it simple with bike disassembly, drop-off, and 6hr drive to Denver later in day. Did loop from hotel I was always curious about, the Haflin Trail from Missionary Ridge.
It starts out with a brute of a climb, some 3300ft net gain, mostly on gravel and jeep roads. The whole area burned many years ago. Pretty much all burned trees have fallen now, so the trail is more easily kept clear. This was not so several years ago.
Haflin Trail looses about 3000ft vertical in four miles, and part of it is a level traverse. So that average grade while going down... yeah, it's nuts. I found the trail to be in surprisingly good shape considering most of the vertical can be shuttled, drawing the downhill type crowd to this one. I did dismount many times though to play it safe, sometimes for insane switchbacks, other times for big rocky drops. There is some exposure too, places where if you slipped over the edge, you'd disappear into the ravine to where nobody would ever find you.
There was some haze in the air today, maybe from a distant fire. Didn't smell it. There were prescribed burns just east of here, but I think all that smoke was going towards Denver. I drove 100 miles through choking smoke later in day.
Anyway, this is a great ride from town, a climbers delight, with great views from Baldy Mountain. The loop went 24mi with 3700ft of climbing.

Can you pick out the houses? 2500ft above town and houses everywhere up here. I would love to have a house on this road. Cathy, well, probably not so much.

View north from Baldy summit

View east from Baldy summit

View west from Baldy summit

Zoom into Durango from Baldy summit. That is Animas City Mtn in the center, the mountain I hiked up from hotel a few nights ago. Hazy.

Pockets of color on Baldy summit

Animas valley looking north, Engineer Mtn center, which I finished a ride over its shoulder earlier in week.

Missionary Ridge trail. Burned many years ago, very few dead trees still standing. Whole trail was like this, thousands of trees had to be cut and moved over the years.

Looking down Missionary Ridge Trail. At least the burn opened up views like this.

On Missionary Ridge

Looking up Missionary Ridge trail

There was lots of thistle up here, probably thriving after the burn. You'd find it in a hurry brushing by it on the trail.

Looking down the drainage Haflin Trail descends

Haflin Trail cuts in and out of many side drainages. This one with bridge that sketched me out.

Looking down Haflin Trail

Color along Haflin Trail

The gorge appeared bottomless here, sometimes with much more exposure than shown here

About 1000ft more drop to go on Haflin Trail, views of Animas Valley opening up

Looking north down the Animas Valley from Haflin Trail

One of the easiest switchbacks on Haflin Trail

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