Explored a wanna-be Teton Pass today. Good times. Just an hour and a half away is Loveland Pass. Close, descent backcountry access with options and convenience. I parked at the bottom of the pass and hitchhiked to the top. From there I had the option of simply strapping in and riding back down to my car or hiking up and around the cirque and dropping in the huge bowl at whichever point I dared. I chose the latter, three times. No matter what you choose it's all but impossible to lose your way and end up anywhere but the car at the bottom of the pass. Unless you drop down the other side of the mountain, all paths lead to your car. That's quite the perk for a directionally challenged solo rider like myself. I even carried a topo map in my pocket, just in case.
Click on the images to see them larger:
And there she is. From I-70, just a couple minutes up Highway 6. The picture below is from about a quarter way around the cirque looking northwest to the rest of the bowl. My trecking poles proved necessary as the wind was pretty strong (my board on my back can rival a sail) and there wasn't much of a beaten path up and around the cirque, so traversing was a bit sketchy at points, but cake with poles. Just enough adversity and solitude to provide the Jack London challenge I need every now and then to clear my head. But cushy enough for the whole trip to fill only half of the day and leave me satisfied, but not wasted.
Next time I'm bringing Annie and letting her chase me down the mountain. I already know she's a faster hiker than I am, but I'm excited to experience what it would be like to ride down with her chasing behind me. In my head, it'll be bliss.
At the end of the day, I'm just happy that I can eat a late breakfast at a pleasant altitude of 5,335 ft. and drive and hour and a half and stand at the top of a 12,400 ft. pass mine for the taking. Then back home for an early dinner. Not too shabby.
(Buckle up back there. Blasting zone ahead.)