Almost to Jones pass. Looking back to whence we came.
After 3 hrs of pedaling & a few spots of walking, we made it to the pass around 10:30am to see jjonas awaiting us atop a 20' +/- snow cornice. This was my 1st time using the Monkey as an ice axe - had to jam the bar & pedal into the snow & hold on while making steps, then repeat. A bit sketchy at first, but I took my time & felt safe doing it with his guidance.
Ice climbing (pic stolen from jjonas)
Once on top, we were greeted with an incredible view of the hills around us, Pettingell Peak, Mt Parnassus, Torreys Peak....
After a bit of breather, we set off south on the CDT. The CDT was as I remembererd from last year's trek above Monarch ski area - rocky, very rocky. A good bit of scenic riding was had, along with some walking sections, both steep ups & treacherous downs.
After some time up top, nearing 13,000' at times, we took a left towards Herman Lake. jjonas said we'd run into some traffic & he wasn't kidding! It was packed with people, which was unfortunate b/c this was one of the funnest descents I've come across - flowy, rocky, rooty, with some good tricky section here & there.
One of the fun parts was a bridge about 30" high. I was feeling great coming into it, so I went for it...got both wheels up & centered as easy as pie, then I froze. I guess I was in shock that I was going to clear it so easily. All I had to do was pedal & I'd have launched off the other side, but we can't have that. Instead of doing the right thing, I leaned to the right, which was the tall downhill side. Fearing a broken arm, wrist or collarbone, I unclipped & jumped off to the ground about 6' below my pedals. Grabbed the bike to head out & noticed that the front brake lever dangling - same thing I did a few weeks ago at Buffalo Creek. I was fortunately able to get it stay somewhat usable for the rest of the day, as long as I kept a finger on it to hold it in place. (just got in from garage from a ghetto fix - looks like it'll work fine)
We took another breather at Herman Gulch trailhead & this is the point when the day changed.
We turned off the CDT & headed uphill to hook up with Bard Creek trail...and kept going up & up & up. A long 1-1/2 mile climb/hike got us to Watrus Gulch trailhead where we refilled with some more water, thanks to jjonas bringing a filter.
We followed the contour around the south side of Mt Parnassus & Bard Peak, but it was up the entire time I think....not really sure cuz I was pretty delirious by this point of the day.
6:14pm & we're feeling it.
After reaching the final saddle between Bard Peak & Silver Plume Mt, the good stuff reappeared. Singletrack along Bard Creek that led us to Bard Creek Rd, a jeep road. Miles & miles of fast, rocky jeep road, where the FS boys let it go. BadAndy let it go just a bit too much, as I caught up to him near the bottom pulling off his front tire to fix a flat. Another swig of JB from the flask as he swapped out tubes & we were on our way to meet the other 2 for a quick drop down Bard Creek Rd to the car. Got off the bike for the last time of the day at 8:30pm, 13 hrs after hopping on.
13 hrs to go 37 miles. That just don't figure.
Throw in 10,000' of climbing & now it makes sense.
Woulda been much longer w/out jjonas guiding us. Thanks!!
If you wanna try this route, may I suggest you leave the bike at home.