Crested Butte – July 2009

Last weekend, 7/17 – 7/19, I joined Dave, Jodie and their family for a camping\riding trip near Crested Butte\Taylor Park. I had planned on leaving on the 16th but by the time I got done getting my bike ready it was already close to 8PM. I had some issue to resolve before I could leave that came up the previous weekend. I purchases replacement radiators (Fluidyne Radiator) for my WR450 and had a few other things to work on. The parts didn’t get in until Thursday, so it ended up being a long wrench day.

I left Friday just before 7AM and got to camp around 11AM. When I got their Jodie and some of the kids were out riding and Dave was hanging out at the campsite. When we went riding later that day, I found out that my bike lost a plug that covered where the optional tachometer cable went into the cylinder head. This was causing oil to split out a bit and at the time I didn’t know what the issue was; so I went back to camp, loaded the bike, and heading into Gunnison. It took a few people looking at the bike and the shop manual to figure what the missing plug was for and that it was a pretty minor. We ended up plugging it back with a cork and some high temperature epoxy. So that was Friday.

Saturday the older members of the group (Dave, Jodie, Dave & Jodie’s oldest daughter, Jodie’s father, and Jodie’s brother) took 744 (7xxx are jeep roads, 4xx & 5xx are single tracks) to 759 to the bottom of American Flag Mountain. Jodie’s father and I went to the top of America Flag Mountain (12.7k feet) and took a few pictures. Then Dave, Bob, Jodie’s dad, and I headed to trail 411 “Star Trail”. Star Trail is a pretty hard single track, with roots, rock garden, rock climbs, stream crossings, log bridges, and 100% single track. The trail is only 8 miles long but slow going; it took us 3 hours from start to finish, this includes a break at Mysterious Lake. This was the 3rd time I had ridden half of it, 2nd time doing the full length, and the 1st time I’ve done it the “wrong way” and probably the last time that way.

When we got back I ate a late lunch and decided to do a solo ride since Dave was taken the kids out for a ride. (Greg bailed on us this weekend; he was watching five wiener dogs instead of riding!) I explored 550 and found 424 and it seemed like a great trail. But by the time I got to 424 I had taken a hard spill, still have a big bruise on my side from that, and I went the wrong direction at an intersection and ended up looped back to 550 again. So I headed back to camp at that point.

The next day the group did 415, a nice easy to moderate single track, then when we got to 553\420 the group headed back to camp, since they wanted to leave by early afternoon. I headed out solo again on 423 to 553 to 420 to 418 to 409 to 405 to 555 to 759 then back to camp. This solo part was a great reminder why you never do tough riding solo. 423, 553, & 420 were very nice trails, 420 was went though some great Aspen groves and was a great single track trail the whole way. 418 was a VERY tight single track, you can tell that very few dirt bikes ride it, and 409 went across the ridge line on and took you to a point where you could see Crested Butte only a few miles away in the valley, also a very beautiful trail. Then came 405… I had ridden part of 405 two years ago with Dave and Rob (blog post from that weekend). I didn’t realize it was 405 until I got to a few tougher sections but at that point there was no turning back, hard to turn a 280 lbs bike around when the trail is only 6″ wide with a drop off to the right and a steep climb on the left. So I continued on cautiously, I got around the one dangerous rock section, where Dave drop is bike and slid down the mountain a bit two years early, via a upper bypass around the section.

I continued on 405 and ran into a split in the trail; I choose to go right, should have gone left… To the right I came up to a rock climb with each level about one foot or so high for a total of about a 5′ high section. So I got off the bike and decided to take it up that way since the section, like most 405, had a steep drop off. When I tried to get up the section the bike jumped up a bit more than expected and I lost the bike off to the right, onto the rocks, down the hill. The bike was flipped over on its side with the seat downhill. After taking my helmet off I proceeded to work on getting the bike flipped back over, uphill. This took awhile due to the weight of the bike, lose footing, and steepness. After getting the bike back up hill, faced in the right direction, and started (this took awhile) I attempted to go up the hill. The loose decomposed granite gravel, rocks, and more on the steeped hill was too much; the bike ended up slipping further down the side of the hill. On another attempt the bike fell\flipped downhill again, by the 4th attempt I was about 15′ down the hill (each attempt caused me to slide further down). At this point I was contemplating blazing a route downhill though the wood a mile or so (to the next closest trail, per the GPS) or leaving the bike and getting help. About two and half hours had gone by and I had completely exhausted by strength trying to get the bike back up the mountain. Right when I was ready to start hiking out, blazing a trail would have been too difficult due to the many downed trees and other unknowns, I heard a bike coming. So I quickly climbed up the hill back to the trail and explained the predicament to the rider. With his help holding down and turning the front tire and assisting to keep the bike balanced we were able to get the bike back on the trail, by going mostly horizontal to the slope, in about 20 mins. We then continued together on 405 until I got to Waterfall Trail (555) and I started the ride back to camp. 405 had a couple of other tough sections (mainly two steep, loose, and rocky hill climbs) and 555 had a lot of roots and such, but wasn’t that difficult except for the fact that I was completely spent by this time.

I finally got back to camp about 5PM, left around 10AM, and right after I got off the bike Robert rode into camp. I picked up Robert hitchhiking on Friday right outside of Denver. He had a sign up that said “Crested Butte”, so I couldn’t pass up helping him out. It was good to have some to chat with on the ride out, Robert works as a freelance architect\designer and was heading out to CB for a few weeks to help some friends on some projects. Robert and I chatted for awhile while I relaxed, ate some food, and loaded up. I ended up leaving camp some time after 7PM.

Besides the two and half hours spent struggling to get my bike back up the mountain it was a great trip. This was my 1st trip out to this area in two years and I’m taking an entire week off the 1st week of August for 2 days around Telluride, 2 days around Seagents, and 3 more days around Crested Butte. Also thinking about doing a 3rd trip around Labor Day weekend too. Robb, from Atlanta, wants to come out and if I can find a couple of other friends that can do it will be another great long weekend. If the Labor Day trip to CB doesn’t work out I’m going to take the week off and goto Burning Man!

Riding Stats: 108 miles in 17 hours
Pictures from this weekend
Best of “Crested Butte” pictures
Google Earth Tracks from the weekend
Crested Butte GPX GPS data
(Right click on the above link and do Save As, then open up in your GPS program)

About Jason Sherry

I am a ~30 year Exchange consultant and expert. I currently work for Commvault as a Solutions Specialist for Microsoft Infrastructure For more info see my resume at:
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