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Elk Mountains Bikepacking Trip

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The Elk Mountains are great for bikepacking!

This week I went on bikepacking trip for a few days around the Elk Mountains with my friend Tyler.  We did a really fun 3 day loop from Carbondale to Crested Butte then to Aspen and back to Carbondale.

 

We woke up early Monday morning August 8th to rain and thunderstorms and packed our bikes.  Around 10am the weather cleared for a bit so we took off up highway 133 rode up the beautiful crystal river valley and turned into Marble.  We knew we were light on food so we stopped and had lunch at Slow Groovin BBQ.  Worth the stop!

We hit the dirt and continued into questionable weather up Schofield Pass.  We pedaled some and pushed our bikes up the steepest rocky hills through the gorge.  Passing by waterfalls and jagged peaks eventually lead us to the top of the pass and the 401 trail.  Nearing the top of the pass we stopped to talk to some backpackers and then spotted a bear next to the road up further.  We yelled and made noise and he made his way into the hills!

Reaching the top of the pass we turned onto the 401 trail and started the uphill climb.  We reached the top around 5pm after climbing about 5,000ft in elevation for the day.  Now for some downhill.

 

After camping at the creek junction with the trail, we hit the rest of the trail in the morning and headed into Crested Butte for some coffee and food.  We hung out at First Ascent Coffee and charged phones and contemplated routes.  Our original plan was to take Pearl Pass over but eventually we decided to take the Grand Traverse route with an option of going down Express Creek and out Castle Creek or continuing up Richmond Ridge to Ajax.

 We hit the Upper Upper Loop to get out of town onto Brush Creek and followed the Grand Traverse route up towards Star Pass to camp for the night.  This was a beautiful area and we were only passed by a few people on dirtbikes the whole day.

The next morning we had 3 miles of mostly pushing the bikes up to the top of star pass on my birthday!  We cruised down and on to Taylor Pass and hit Express Creek to Castle Creek road and out to the Rio Grande Trail.  After a much needed stop for burgers and a beer at the Woody Creek Tavern, we cruised back down to Carbondale.

 

Highly recommended trip which could be done in a shorter period of time or longer with many options.  I rode a Spot single speed 29er hardtail and Tyler rode a Specialized 29er full suspension.  Essential bags were the McClure Front Harness, custom zipperless framebag, and Malamute Seatbag.  We also both used a Geissler Bottlebag and Lost Man Bottlebag on the handlebars and neither of us rode with a backpack.

- Geoff

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