Salida to Marshall Pass, out and back on the Monarch Crest trail, the Silver Creek Trail, Rainbow Trail, back to Salida
After I moved to Salida, the pinnacle of my riding season was always the Marshall Pass-Silver Creek loop because of its distance, fabulous long climb, and great big dose of singletrack. It's the kind of all-day ramble that makes a big dinner taste so damn good and sleep come so completely.
In the summer of '06,as I was preparing for Leadville I started thinking about how to make that ride bigger. And I also wanted to ride the danged Monarch Crest more, especially since the ultra-rainy summer had created an Alice-in-Wonderland landscape of huge red mushrooms up there (sadly, I never took any pictures of that action. Doh!)
The problem, at least in '06, was those same rainstorms. They were happening every danged day. No later than noon. And unlike the storms of years past, these storms were not just dashing off to rain elsewhere, soaking one spot for no more than 20 minutes. No, the '06 storms crept slowly, or even remained stationary, hammering down hard rain, hail, thunder and lightning for hours up high.
So, making this ride happen implied starting early. The first time I tried it I left the house at 6:00 am--pretty much first light. And I got soaked. So the next time I left the house at 4:30. That did it. I got to Marshall Pass before 8:00 am, to Monarch Pass around 9:30, and then finished out the high part of the ride before noon.
Pretty nice day ride. The classic crest without a shuttle and with the added benefits of being able to ride the Crest backwards (it's really different that way!) and the best endurance training you are going to find. 75 miles of joy. The pinnacle.
©Tom Purvis, 2007-2012