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  1. #1
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    A Fine Plan Indeed - Wheeler Pass to Miners Creek Trail TR

    Saturday evening, after a satisfying day of riding downhill bikes at Keystone, icegeek and myself started kicking around ideas for a Sunday adventure. Many options were bandied about over Great Divide Rumble IPA and greasy cheeseburgers (or was mine pulled pork?) but in the end we decided on a route the Geek had been eying for a while. He had been rained out from riding this objective several weeks prior, so this time we also planned to accomplish it as a shuttle. Our mission was to drive as high up Peak 9 Road in Breckenridge as we could, pedal up and over Wheeler Pass, descend to the intersection of Miners Creek Trail (which is part of the Colorado Trail), climb back up and over the 10 Mile Range, descend to the intersection of the Peaks Trail, and follow that to Frisco for food and libations.

    Later that evening I got a text from the Evil MGE suggesting a ride near Kenosha Pass. I promptly called him to explain our plan, and to see if he was interested. Although not as long as many of the Goat's epics, it was also a route he had been keen on exploring for a while. He said he'd let me know in the morning if he wanted to come along. At 8:15 am I got a text stating that he was in, making the final cast of characters for this production the Geek, the Goat, and the Trucker.

    After dropping a truck at the Brewery in Frisco, we headed in to Breckenridge and wandered three miles up Peak 9 Road, parking near one of the Breckenridge lodges. The views of Peak 8, the Lake Chutes, and our eventual destination under Peak 4 were incredible. After making sure keys were stowed properly and we had everything, we started the 2-mile pedal up the road to the junction with Wheeler Pass Trail.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    It was a fairly arduous climb, but basically uneventful. The beers I had the night before, coupled with the altitude, were starting to affect me negatively. I was definitely nauseated at this point, happy to take a break. We spent some time at the top of Peak 9 Road just staring at the mountains, picking out various peaks and features. Greys and Torreys, Georgia Pass, Mt. Evans, and more were all catalogued and accounted for.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    Fall has turned the willows many shades of patchwork eloquence, a thing we marveled at as we began the travers on narrow singletrack from the top of Peak 9 Road up to Wheeler Pass. Even at this altitude where foliage is sparse, nature still reminds us of her transcendent beauty. I was pretty gripped on this section, not breathing efficiently and letting the exposure really get to my head. "Pythoned", as the Geek put it, and I was thankful he was fine with stopping up a bit and calming me down. I needed to get my head back around riding in the true alpine, where everything seems bigger, badder, more open, and highly exposed. Not having your mental game on point up here can be costly. The trail, while narrow and exposed, was completely rideable and after a few deep breaths and some pedaling we were at the last push to Wheeler Pass, a series of steep hike-a-bike switchbacks.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    The first descent was loose and dusty, down the fall line off Wheeler Pass with sweeping, wide open turns that kept speeds up and traction sketchy. I was still a little uneasy from the altitude and my hangover, and took this one fairly carefully. The Goat, however, did not and was tearing down the alpine decent like a man possessed. The Geek likes to savor these sorts of things, and while not keeping pace with the Goat was still going at a decent clip. Slippery, rocky, dusty alpine turned in to loamy, pine-needle strewn trail as we descended down below treeline. The trail eventually became more traversing, and quickly we arrived at the junction with Miner's Creek Trail.

    Now on the Colorado Trail section of our ride, we started the climb up Miners Creek that would eventually take us back up and over the 10 Mile Range. We again found ourselves above treeline. Between pushing steep sections and riding mellower grades, I realized I had fallen way behind on nutrition for the ride. I stopped for a moment, dug a couple of Clif bars out of my back, and wearily gnawed on one as I pushed my bike up towards the ridegline. After a while I began to emerge from what seemed like a fog, my head becoming clearer and my legs a bit stronger. At this point we realized we were just above the infamous SKY avalanche chutes, so we stopped a bit to take in the views and eat a bit more. Looking south towards Freemont pass, the hillside aspen groves were blazing yellow in color. Fall has truly come to Colorado.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    The riding up here is tough, with plenty of small steep pitches that necessitate hiking, often with our bikes slung over our packs. Once on the top of the ridgeline, we could pedal more often yet the pace was still slow due to the terrain and the altitude. Obscure singletrack riddled with rocks would give way to boulder fields, and the bikes would go upon the pack again. Despite the difficulty, the experience is like none other. Man and machine, bike and rider, in a place where few others tend to go. We pressed on and made the last push on to an outcropping that was to be the stage for the beginning of the descent to the Peaks Trail.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    Dropping in on Miners Creek was a bit of a mind game, as the trail starts over a convexity that appears to simply fall off a cliff. On the riders right is a huge, steep bowl with jagged cliff bands perched on top that seemed to support my sense the trail went into oblivion. Once past the rollover, it became clear the trail was (in fact) not going to fall off a cliff, a revelation that didn't make it much easier. This is classic alpine descending in Colorado: steep and treacherous, with plenty of loose chunder and decomposed granite to keep you honest. Throw in a few tight switchbacks and I was more than happy I made the investment in a dropper post years ago. We encountered lots of "up and over" pointy rock maneuvers as we traversed below Peaks 5 and 6, and a few little sniper uphills in the willow crossings that kept us on our toes. With my head finally fully clear and the hangover purged, I really enjoyed this bit of sweet high-country singletrack, and too soon we came to the saddle below Peak 4 that would mark the beginning of last leg of our journey.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    From this last saddle it was game on, and I dropped in behind the Goat to see if I could keep his pace now that my hangover was gone. It starts a bit steeper at the top with a few loose, gravelly, rounded turns that allowed us to carry speed into the drainage. This gave way to slightly less steep terrain down the fall line of the gut with plenty of swooping turns, root and rock gaps, small stream crossings, tree stands, ruts, and speed. Basically, heaven in the form of an amazing downhill payoff we had paid for in elevation. The Goat got balled up at the top of a steep, narrow chute littered with root drops and a decent rain rut, and with me on his wheel he jumped out of the way hollering "You got it, brother!" I charged into it, hitting brakes hard when I saw what I was in for, but let 'em roll just in time to clatter down the section, past a group riding up the trail, and through a couple more turns. The Goat dropped in after and we both held up to wait a few seconds for the Geek, and chatted with the group a bit.

    Once regrouped, we charged ahead. The trail now wasn't nearly as steep but still fast and chundery with loose rocks and high speeds. The Goat and I traded the lead back and forth, back wheels swapping out and skipping from side to side as we barreled down the rough and tumble trail. As we neared the junction with the Peaks Trail, we crossed several railroad tie creek bridges, and the dirt became a bit loamier for a spell. There is nothing like the exhilaration of an extended descent after a long day in the high country, and this one was delivered in spades.


    All pictures by mountaingoatepics

    Eventually we hit the Peaks Trail, which is a widely popular trail for bikers, hikers, and all sorts of people. This trail is quite wide, and our route would take us almost entirely downhill into the town of Frisco where the vehicle was stationed. Not wanting to plow anyone over, we dialed back the speed and kept it in cruise mode down the much smoother, wider Peaks Trail. This didn't stop us from having fun, but we were definitely on the lookout for other trail users. At the intersection of a dirt road towards the bottom, we opted to continue on a bit of singletrack called the Rainbow Lake Trail. This was wide but densely wooded, and much slower than the full-on descending we had been doing. Normally I like to end big rides with an epic descent, but the deep woods and rolling terrain made for an enjoyably introspective conclusion to our adventure. Well, almost the conclusion. The Goat and I missed a turn at some point and wound up on the Royal Trail, which turned out to be a short but deliciously technical slow-speed downhill that brought us to the Frisco bike path. Perfect.

    We rallied back in to the town of Frisco via paved rec path, and found the Geek waiting for us outside the brewery. Smiles, fist bumps, high fives, and more smiles were exchanged as we packed up the bikes and de-chamoised. Over beers and cheeseburgers we recounted the trip. It wasn't a long one, barely half the distance of other rides I've been doing lately, but fully packed with everything one could ask for in a ride. We all agreed that not only was the ride really fun, but it was also pretty... Pretty f'ckin' awesome.

    Yes, it was a fine plan indeed.
    Last edited by Full Trucker; 09-10-2012 at 10:55 AM. Reason: Formatting it all pretty-like
    The older I get, the faster I was.





    Punch it, Chewie.

  2. #2
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    Yeehaw! That's a great way to put that ride together. Looks like it was about perfect up there.
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  3. #3
    old skool newbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Full Trucker View Post
    , and with me on his wheel he jumped out of the way hollering "You got it, brother!" I charged into it, hitting brakes hard when I saw what I was in for, but let 'em roll just in time to clatter down the section, past a group riding up the trail, and through a couple more turns.
    Yes, it was a fine plan indeed.
    Good on ya.

    I still remember your sage advice from a ride long, long ago last July - "there are no brakes in mountain biking". so simple, so sound

    And why "pythoned"? Ministry of funny walks?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenboy View Post
    Good on ya.

    I still remember your sage advice from a ride long, long ago last July - "there are no brakes in mountain biking". so simple, so sound

    And why "pythoned"? Ministry of funny walks?
    Pssssh... If I ever told anyone "no brakes" I was clearly delirious. There's LOTS of brakes in mountain biking... hesitation though, is another story.

    Pythoned. I was riding so tensely that I constricted my chest, wasn't breathing well, and went hypoxic. Slightly tunnel visioned, off balance, my head reeling. Like being crushed by a python of your own doing.
    The older I get, the faster I was.





    Punch it, Chewie.

  5. #5
    drink coffee, ride.
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    fantastic! looks stunning, especially with the aspens saying "summer is not long for this world"

  6. #6
    Dude...
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    Sweet write up and ride!
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    Its amazing how easy somebody can make 10.000 posts making such stupid comments.

  7. #7
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    Great Trip report - a few years back I was planning on doing the same trip - but a band of rain came in - you sure got lucky with the weather..

    Maybe next year I'll try again after seeing your great pics..
    My MTB road trip website http://www.mtb-hol.com

  8. #8
    Bad Andy!
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    Like. (with a capital L)

  9. #9
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    Hell Yeah! That would be a great ride, on the To Do list for sure. Thanks for the stoke!

  10. #10
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
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    Sweet!

    Have done that one twice now, but solo, and in the opposite direction.

    Parking in Frisco, going up/over/through Miner's and Wheeler, down through Breck, back to the car via Peaks trail.
    Florence Nightingale's Stormtrooper

  11. #11
    bacon! bacon! bacon!
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  12. #12
    Now with 20% more fat!!
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    So much WIN here... nice work, fellas!

  13. #13
    Goat of Legend
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    A nice day indeed. I enjoyed these activities. Such a good day on the bike. Weeeeeeeee!!!!

  14. #14
    This place is wasteland
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    What are those two wheeled contraptions, and why are you guys sitting on them?

  15. #15
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    Wow that looks amazing!

  16. #16
    zrm
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    Do that loop every once and a while. The crest of the Ten Mile is a spectacular place to be although from a strictly riding enjoyment point of view, the Wheeler/Peaks loop is more satisfying for me. The Miners Creek trail is more for the novelty and exhilaration of being above 12,000' for a long period of time.

    Another good above treeline one if you don't mind 30-45 min of pushing is the Wheeler from Crystal Creek drainage over to Copper and back on the Peaks. Climb the Burro from town, then clim Spruce Creek to the Wheeler

  17. #17
    Goat of Legend
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Do that loop every once and a while. The crest of the Ten Mile is a spectacular place to be although from a strictly riding enjoyment point of view, the Wheeler/Peaks loop is more satisfying for me. The Miners Creek trail is more for the novelty and exhilaration of being above 12,000' for a long period of time.

    Another good above treeline one if you don't mind 30-45 min of pushing is the Wheeler from Crystal Creek drainage over to Copper and back on the Peaks. Climb the Burro from town, then clim Spruce Creek to the Wheeler
    Guess its all about perspective...qouted from my blog below

    "There are a few that have said that Miner's Creek, a section of the Colorado Trail between Breckenridge and Copper is a Novelty. Best done once to say you have done it, but otherwise not very enjoyable.

    I have determined these people have:

    A. No sense of adventure, grandeur or sense of appreciating the beauty that surrounds us

    B. No downhilling, technical, or other skills that would help one enjoy the awesomeness of such a spectacular downhill

    C. Hates hike a bikes. If you've ridden with me, you know I enjoy them almost as much as I enjoy riding. Thankfully, I had two others who enjoy it almost as much as I do."


    Only about 1/4-1/2 mile of Miner's was a hike a bike. Far shorter then some I've done. Otherwise, Miner's is a winner!!

  18. #18
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    Great report! What a tough trip and to do it with a hangover - even more manly!!

  19. #19
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountaingoatepics View Post
    Guess its all about perspective...qouted from my blog below

    "There are a few that have said that Miner's Creek, a section of the Colorado Trail between Breckenridge and Copper is a Novelty. Best done once to say you have done it, but otherwise not very enjoyable.

    I have determined these people have:

    A. No sense of adventure, grandeur or sense of appreciating the beauty that surrounds us

    B. No downhilling, technical, or other skills that would help one enjoy the awesomeness of such a spectacular downhill

    C. Hates hike a bikes. If you've ridden with me, you know I enjoy them almost as much as I enjoy riding. Thankfully, I had two others who enjoy it almost as much as I do."


    Only about 1/4-1/2 mile of Miner's was a hike a bike. Far shorter then some I've done. Otherwise, Miner's is a winner!!
    Well, you're right about one thing, I don't like hike a bike much. (Hate is too strong a word) I have a bum foot (born club footed) and long hikes in bike shoes aren't much fun. I do the Wheeler/Peaks loop or go south at the Wheeler, Peak 9 rd and go over to Crystal Creek instead of Copper 2-3 times a year generally. Maybe once a year or every other year I'll do the Ten Mile Crest via Miners Creek just for the experience; it just has a bit more walking than I enjoy although I do love being up on the crest.

    The technical part of descending Miners to the Peaks isn't much of a problem. Although a pretty competent technical rider, I don't think I'm alone in saying that the steep rutted, kitty litter/loose rock experience isn't my favorite kind of riding. There's only that one seriously eroded spot at treeline on the divide between Miners Creek and North Barton that is really tough for me to stay on my bike. For me, the Wheeler down to Copper is a more fun kind of technical.

    It great that different people enjoy different kinds of trails more than others, but I don't think it's correct to generalize too much as to why. We just all have different fun meters.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountaingoatepics View Post
    Guess its all about perspective...qouted from my blog below

    "There are a few that have said that Miner's Creek, a section of the Colorado Trail between Breckenridge and Copper is a Novelty. Best done once to say you have done it, but otherwise not very enjoyable.

    I have determined these people have:

    A. No sense of adventure, grandeur or sense of appreciating the beauty that surrounds us

    B. No downhilling, technical, or other skills that would help one enjoy the awesomeness of such a spectacular downhill

    C. Hates hike a bikes. If you've ridden with me, you know I enjoy them almost as much as I enjoy riding. Thankfully, I had two others who enjoy it almost as much as I do."


    Only about 1/4-1/2 mile of Miner's was a hike a bike. Far shorter then some I've done. Otherwise, Miner's is a winner!!
    You forgot choice: D) None of the Above

    The "awesomeness of such a spectacular downhill" is certainly your perspective, but to say one who finds it anything but awesome does so due to lack of ability is possible, but certainly far from true for many, many people.

    Anyways, there is no such thing as a bad day in the high country unless you:

    A) Get stuck in a ferocious lightning storm, get struck, and die.
    B) Crash hard and hit a rock just right, split your helmet in two, and die.
    C) Get bitten by a rabid marmot, wander off aimless and delirious, and die.

  21. #21
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    Great pics and text!
    whatever...

  22. #22
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by brownfinger View Post
    You forgot choice:
    C) Get bitten by a rabid marmot, wander off aimless and delirious, and die.
    This is my biggest concern on high alpine rides.

  23. #23
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    But they're so cute... and they squeak when you kick 'em. What's not to love?
    The older I get, the faster I was.





    Punch it, Chewie.

  24. #24
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Full Trucker View Post
    But they're so cute... and they squeak when you kick 'em. What's not to love?
    I hope you're wearing full length Marmot boots when you do that. Not only can they be rabid, once they smell blood they become man eaters.

  25. #25
    Goat of Legend
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    Quote Originally Posted by brownfinger & ZRM
    You forgot choice: D) None of the Above

    The "awesomeness of such a spectacular downhill" is certainly your perspective, but to say one who finds it anything but awesome does so due to lack of ability is possible, but certainly far from true for many, many people.
    Hmmmm...spectacular views. trail rarely ridden and enjoyed by most..chunky descent...good company....awesomeness ensued!!
    Last edited by mountaingoatepics; 09-12-2012 at 07:01 PM.

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