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?
By the top of Overland Rd., my body decided to turn on, and the rest of the day felt pretty good. TH at ~8:00am, and it was warm enough to not need too much more than a light windbreaker. Not a cloud in the sky by the time I hit treeline. The weather would deteriorate throughout the day, but below 13,000′, it felt more like Fall than Winter.
It was up in the air for me on what route to do. My first choice was the SW Ridge, which is a really wonderful route, but seeing that it snowed a couple of days before, and there was reports of rime ice on everything, I didn’t know if this would make a good choice. Plus, the Trough filled in with unconsolidated show is just a bear to deal with and without a rope, doing the SW Ridge (or just the Keyhole route). Because of this, another romp up the NW Gully seemed to be a good choice. I had done the route in late January, with full-on Winter conditions and it felt pretty full value then. If I could do it in much worse conditions, today should be a breeze.
And, it was! A lovely time up there, really – full value smiles. I didn’t bring a rope (too lazy!) so it was down the Keyhole route for me, descending that damn Trough Couloir, which was the low point for me on this hike. The rest went pretty smoothly – I even found myself half-jogging down! I’m usually careful to save energy for the ride back and knowing I just got off a big week of back-to-back races, it seemed doubly prudent to do today.
The ride back down also seemed to go super quickly, even with the big hill climb to get to Overland Rd. The descent down seemed just such a good time to be on a bike, as I raced the waning light to takeout pizza. A middle school mountain biker totally crushed me on the last climb on Old Stage – I gave him a nod and a smile.