On the Trail: Getting Crowned
CARBONDALE ” The midvalley land mass called the Crown never ceases to amaze me, and often seems to humble me.
I first rode my mountain bike up there in the early-1990s when Michael Thompson and some other folks started a midvalley cycling club. After awhile I wrote it off as a hot, dusty and difficult playground best avoided except in the early season, whenever everything else was too wet and muddy to ride.
In recent years, Carbondale cyclists have created a wonderful network of single-track trails, building off of cattle paths and motorcycle routes. Above that network is where it really gets interesting. There is a never-ending maze of faint paths, rutted double tracks and cobble-clogged ranch roads in the 6,000-acre blob managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Unfortunately, I was the rat caught in that maze Sunday.
I was trying to reverse a route that a friend and I stumbled upon several weeks ago. I was far off the well-traveled bike trails and, unfortunately, didn’t quite recall the correct sequence of turns. I strayed off the desired route too soon and by the time I realized it, I had traveled too far downhill to reverse course.
I crashed through oak brush where there was barely signs of cow traffic. I hooked into a better-traveled single-track that miraculously appeared out of nowhere, then disappeared just as quick.
I followed a rocky ranch road so steep I didn’t feel comfortable even riding down it. It inexplicably stopped, overlooking a ravine. Luckily I could see The Powerline In the Middle of Nowhere that I knew would deliver me to the promised land, so I hike-a-biked into the ravine, cursing myself and the oak brush that constantly stabbed me.
I finally made it to a spot that I recognized, albeit an hour after I intended and along a zigzag route I hadn’t fathomed, then traveled down the more familiar trails. I was actually never lost. I just wasn’t certain where I was. I guess that’s why they call it adventure.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the decent that poses a challenge.