A good trip to Longs Neníisótoyóú’u on Columbus Indigenous Peoples Day. Left around 3:30am feeling fairly languid, but psyched enough to push up James Canyon/Overland Rd. (St. Vrain is essentially closed to bikes for construction). It’s a steeper route with more elevation gain, but it’s also actually shorter by a few miles. It’s also quieter – and there’s a few miles of well-sealed gravel at the top, what’s not to like?
I’ve been planning my future Sawatch adventure and the more I looked at it, the more I realize that the reputation of the Sawatch being full of gentle heaps of talus hills and nothing else is only true if you decide to ignore some nightmare ridges just off to the side from the more popular 14ers. Those ridges of course are one in the same with the where I want to travel on.
I love drawing lines on maps and dreaming of sufferfests to do. I seem to squeeze out the most enjoyment from long ridge runs. I love being up high, teetering on top of a knife edge between two drainages, without the need of a trail to follow, yet having an obvious route in front of me. I revel in the exposure the position gives me to wind, weather, and of course: gravity.
The Continental Divide makes an obvious target for my doodles, and many of my past fastpacks have used segments of it already – either in whole or in part. Last year, I traversed the CD between Milner Pass and Berthoud Pass – located just outside my back door and earlier in that same year I traveled from Loveland Pass to Guanella Pass with a bike lashed to my back. Previously, I took on the Mosquito/Tenmile Range in total, where the CD makes an appearance for a few peaks (McNamee, Clinton, Wheeler), before bowing out. And of course, I’ve even ridden the Tour Divide Race on a mountain bike, which crosses the Continental Divide some three dozen times or so. All these trips had their unique aspects, and each one I believe is an ultra classic. What to do, next?
Segment #4 takes from around Georgetown to the base of Longs Peak! The MTB narrative rushes you down Argentine Pass to a resupply in Idaho Springs, then up Oh My God Road, to a mixed surface route to the trailhead.
Switchbacks with steep dropoffs! Ghost towns! 4WD mania! Alpine singletrack!
The Road narrative takes the same dizzying switchbacks of Oh My God Road to Richmond Street in Black Hawk, where you’ll wander up a steep, rough road up to the Peak to Peak highway. Peak to Peak is a ultra-classic road route in of itself, featuring wide-shouldered riding, perfect for all the rubber necking you’ll be doing because of the mountain views.
I’ve taken a ton of time to scout out free, dispersed, legal campsites near the East Longs Peak Trailhead – such opportunities get tight, as private property encroaches close to the route. But I think we’ve got some good ones.
Finish the Segment off with a summit of Longs Peak! The absolute Monarch of the Front Range and of Rocky Mountain National Park! All that’s left down is rocket you back to Golden – and that’ll be Segment #5.
Segment #3 takes you from Guanella Pass, up and over Argentine Pass, and deposits you in Horseshoe Basin, to tackle Grays and Torreys from Grays’ South Ridge Route. Georgetown is used as a resupply point. Enjoy!