I was looking through old photos and came across my first solo unsupported bikepacking tour in August 2007. Prior to this I had attempted the Colorado Trail in 2001 with two friends only to get snowed out on day 2. It was early September, just before 911, and it snowed over a foot in Bailey…game over. In 2004, 8 of us completed the CT in using a VW sag-wagon to bring along the camping gear and various accoutrements. But because of new jobs I wasn’t able to get out again until ’07.
I had an idea to tour the 100 mile section of the Rainbow Trail from Poncha Springs to the south tip of the Sangre de Cristos, hop over the range and ride into the Great Sand Dunes National Park. There I’d meet my sweetie and our dogs, camp out, and head home from there. I had always wanted to ride from my house so…why not? I had 5 days off work. On the road it’s about 160 miles to Poncha Springs but I decided to craft a mostly dirt route using the best available maps I could find at the time. The Latitude40 maps are surprisingly accurate (they really do research those maps a lot). I couldn’t have ridden as much dirt without their hard work. It took me 3 days to get to the start of the Rainbow Trail in Poncha Springs but I didn’t last very long on the hellishly rutted out trail. I hiked most of the first 25 miles before bailing down to Salida for some pizza and beer.
The bike i took was my first real custom, a Hunter 29er frameset with sliding dropouts. I went pretty light: Hennessey Hammock was light for the time, 40 degree sleeping bag and no pad (bad call), Jetboil stove and freeze-dried meals, some clothes, trail mix and bars, and a water filter. I remember it getting down to the low 30’s at night and freezing my buttocks off in the hammock. Live and learn…sleeping pads are super important in a hammock. Looking back, i wish I had finished the tour (duh). I only had a week off work but probably could’ve made it down there in time. I am just not a fan of walking my bike THAT much. But i can never get the impression out of my head that the trail opened up into some beautiful rideable singletrack just after i bailed out to Salida.
I wish i could find the old blog post, but it’s been lost in the ether. Here are some photos, random order, don’t want to figure out how to order them in WP. Cheers!