Pair include bikes in their 14ers mission
At 3 a.m. Thursday, two young men from Durango woke from uneasy slumbers on the flanks of Castle Peak. Two hours later, they watched the sun rise from 14,265 feet.For David Paquette, 24, and Nick Ehrhardt, 23, it marked their 17th fourteener summit in a mission to climb all 54 of the state’s 14,000-foot highpoints this summer. Starting out July 2 from Ehrhardt’s native Manitou Springs, the duo hopes to finish by the end of August in Durango.But Paquette and Ehrhardt have added a unique twist to their peak-bagging quest. When they’re not hiking or climbing the fourteeners themselves, they’re riding bicycles to and from trailheads, towing up to 100 pounds of gear each.Their project is called “Beyond Biking: An Environmental Initiative,” a fund-raiser for the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and Leave No Trace.
After the two hiked off Castle Thursday morning, broke camp and settled back into the saddles of their steeds, they cruised down Castle Creek Road and into Aspen. Today, according to their itinerary (check out http://www.beyondbiking.com), is a rest day.So Thursday afternoon a visit to the Aspen coin-operated laundry found Paquette alone holding court. The mountain bikes, each one fitted with a single-wheel Bob-brand trailer, were in a heap in the parking lot out front. Paquette was wearing a red whistle around his neck but no shirt, snug-fitting orange and blue floral print running shorts, and yellow Crocs sandals. Everything else was being cycled in the machines, he explained, and Ehrhardt was over at the Pitkin County Library updating the journal section of their website.”This is Day 20,” he said, “so we’re about a third of the way through. And we’re definitely psyched to be here in the Elks. All the climbing so far has been hands-in-your-pockets kind of stuff.”On Saturday, they plan to bike and hike up toward Snowmass Mountain. On Sunday, they aim to summit Snowmass, then hike to within striking distance of Capitol Peak. Monday should mean topping out on Capitol, then hiking out and riding up to Maroon Lake. Tuesday is slated to be a rest day, but Paquette said they might keep going. “Depending on how we feel,” he said.
They’ll ring the Maroon Bells on Wednesday, by that logic, charge up Pyramid on Thursday, then ride back over Independence Pass to take on Huron Peak (and the Collegiate Range) next Friday.The fourteeners-by-bike project has been done twice before: First in 1985 by two brothers, and again in 1995, according to Paquette. The style, Paquette explained, is simple: “Completely self-contained, absolutely no vehicles, all human-powered.””Understand, we’re doing this for a cause: to try to raise awareness about the degradation of the mountains by human impact,” Paquette said.Ehrhardt, meanwhile, was writing on the website:
“Ten days have passed since the last time I sat down to update this blog. It has been ten crazy, though so incredibly amazing days! Let’s see, at the last blog entry, we had just climbed Sherman. Ten days later, we have climbed ten more peaks, brought our trip bike odometer to almost 600 miles, hiked over 120 miles, and have had an absolutely incredible time.””The best part is,” Ehrhardt continued, “at the last blog we were tired. Now, at day 20 of our trip, we’re getting into the groove and each day ends with an excitement to wake up and start the next. Let’s go over some highlights …”But first things first – like today’s rest day for the pair.”The only thing we have planned is going back over to Johnny Maguire’s and getting some more subs down. Then we’ll try to find something soft to sleep on,” Paquette said.Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.