Somehow, I managed to “sleep” at least ten hours in a sleeping bag on top of a thin therma-rest pad on a hardwood floor in the loft. Perhaps so much time was able to pass between when I went to went to bed and when I got up because the luxurious and sensuous feeling of sleeping on something resembling the soft feel of a granite slab lulled me into waking at least once a hour and lying awake with aching shoulders, hips, back, neck, etc. until lack of sleep dragged me back kicking and screaming into my next thirty minute nap.
I headed outside and joined C in cleaning up the wooded area in front of the house. We picked up a lot of dead underbrush and burned it off in a big metal grill-like contraption. To borrow a term from the fire department (I originally accidentally wrote tern. Wouldn’t it be fun, though, if all fire departments loaned out seagulls, just for the asking?), we need to create defensible space around the cabin. This will be a big project. The cabin and the lot are an endless provider of projects, should we choose to accept them. There’s a nice balance between projects that require lots of money and projects that require lots of backbreaking labor.
After S and J took off at around 2, I said goodbye to C who was leaving at 4 and packed up my bike and gear and then drove over to the trailhead for the Lola Montez trail. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember how to switch the settings on my bike computer from my road bike tires to my mountain bike tires, so I didn’t collect accurate distance measurements. So sue me.
The Lola Montez trail goes a short distance (¼ mile?) on fairly simple singletrack, and then turns right onto a private gravel and dirt road. The dirt road is a mostly gradual decline for about a mile. Not long after you ride through the dry creek bed for Lower Castle Creek (hmmm, I wonder how long into the spring this will be unrideable), it becomes a private road, so you then turn right onto a singletrack trail. The first ¼ mile or so is fun and easy. Then the trail pitches up. I like climbing as much as the next climber, but this was mostly in deep sandy dirt with occasional small logs serving as water bars on the trail (and as occasional forceful dismounters of me from my bike). Did I also mention that the trail starts at 6640 feet and hits Lower Lola Montez Lake at 7180 feet after only about five miles? The second singletrack starts even lower at 6430 feet due to the drop on the private road. Just over a mile later, you are at 7000 feet. That’s a nearly 11% average grade on a really difficult surface. Did I mention the deep sandy dirt?
Lola Montez kicked my ass. I slogged my way up the hill as best I could. This meant lots of walking the bike. Just dragging my bike up the hill in the deep dirt was exhausting. Because the climb often went for over a hundred feet with nothing remotely resembling a flat section, it was nearly impossible to start riding again each time I had to stop. Unfortunately, the altitude and the lack of time I was spending on the bike made the “ride” not so fun. Looking at a topo map after I got back to the cabin, I think I was tragically close to the point where the ride mostly flattened out (becoming 200 feet over 2 miles instead of nearly 600 feet over 1 mile) on the way to the lake. Next time, I go all the way unless I break a bone falling backwards off my bike while trying to hurdle a water bar.
Despite all this, I think it’s an awesome trail that I will thoroughly enjoy when I am in good enough shape to stay on my bike for most of the climb and for all the descent. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this year before the snow comes. Next year, I swear I will meet the mysterious woman the locals call … Lola Montez, destroyer of out of shape bike riders.