Thursday, September 8, 2016

ColoRADo Trail Segment #22 - Perfecto!

[Previously posted on FB 8-Sept-2016]
I first rode a portion of this segment of the CT two years ago. It instantly become my favorite piece of trail on the planet. It is the highest segment of the CT, following the Continental Divide at around 12,000 to 13,000 feet. The views all the way around are stunning. It is like riding on top of the world.
With a perfect forecast, I just had to hit this again, extending the route to cover all of Segment 22. This meant lots of additional trail climbing and a 1000ft climb on highway 149 to get back to my car. At least there were two bailouts from the ridge if I got too tired.
This segment of the CT will never be as popular as the Monarch Crest segment. The Crest can be shuttled on state highway, and multiple companies provide service. To earn the ridge of segment 22, you must climb 4000ft up steep Jeep road, grades often hitting 20%. That'll keep the riff-raff off this segment (lol).
I started in short sleeves and stayed that way for the whole ride, which is pretty awesome for September at 13,000ft. Saw zero bikers on the ridge and only five through hikers, all pleasant encounters.
I brought filter along and topped off water at the cool Carson ghost town at 11,500ft. I did not stop to visit it last time, so it was nice to check it out and take a break from the 2hr climb.
The extended route will not need to be ridden again. This goes over Jarosa Mesa, which looks nice in Google Earth, but is chocked full of large lava rocks. Lots of hike-a-bike and F-bombs ensued. The initial descent to Rt 149 was not much better, extremely technical and slow. Eventually the CT merges with two-track that was a speed fest.
The highway slog back over Slumgullion Pass was not that bad. Climb is what I do. Just get it done. The 8 mile rip back to the car was sweet, even though it was pavement. Brand new asphalt, non-stop turns at 30-40mph all the way.

Lake San Cristobal with divide ridge I will be riding in distance

Carson ghost town at around 11,500ft


Carson Pass road with pass in distance

On the CT heading up to high point at 13,200ft

Looking back down to Carson Pass area from the CT

A switchback on the CT heading to high point

Sometimes this is all you seet riding the divide at around 13,000ft. Imagine if NH ridges were this smooth!

The CT didn't have a sign here two years ago. I support the CT Foundation and saw in the newsletter they put one up.

Heading north on segment 22

Wish I could name the mountains in the distance

Heading north on the CT

Looking back down in Wager Gulch with Carson Rd that I climbed to the divide

Panoram looking south over Wager Gulch

Looking back on the CT to where I just bombed down

Heading north along the rim of the divide

Potential water stop for through hikers

I'm guessing that is Red Mountain in the distance.

Red Mtn and Lake San Cristobal, where I parked

CT faintly visible in center

Not all of the CT was buff. This uber steep talus field required some hike-a-bike down.

Looking back at the talus field I came down

Jarosa Mesa in distance

Heading to Jarosa Mesa

Jarosa Mesa. Where did my trail go!!! This went on for miles, initially climbing, then flat, then descending. There was lots of high-a-biking and cursing.

Heading east off Jarosa Mesa

Descent from Jarosa Mesa wasn't much better

Low point on Rt 149. Only 4mi and 1000ft to the pass.

From Slumgullion Pass looking southeast. The state has cleared wide swath of beetle destroyed trees along the highway, opening up vistas.

About 2700ft lost in 8mi getting back to car.

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