Thursday, June 28, 2012

Devil's Pass--Biking It

As we discovered on this trip, biking a trail is very different than hiking it.  Thus, I've included the 'biking it' in the title because I've evaluated the trail specifically on its bikeability.  Devil's Pass was a challenging ride.  The trail starts with a nice little downhill, and then begins to climb.  And climb.  And climb.  And climb.  For the most part it climbs for 5 miles.  The trail itself is in pretty good shape:  it was fairly wide (couple feet) and relatively (note the relatively!) free of roots and rocks, particularly in the first 3 miles before you actually get into the pass.  There weren't a lot of muddy spots.  The drop-offs weren't scary.  There was no bear scat.  It was a really nice trail, besides that it went up and up and up (gradually, though!).

This is at about mile 3 of the Devil's Pass trail.
Denver was tired.  We were only 2 miles in and he was saying, "I'm whipped."  We cajoled.  He kept on.  We met a lady and her dog backpacking from the head of the pass.  We asked her about the upcoming trail.  She'd stayed overnight at the Resurrection/Devil's Pass intersection and said she'd crossed 35 snowfields since that morning, coming down Devil's Pass.  That was not including all the small ones.  She said there was a scary stream crossing coming up.  We got on our bikes and kept going. 

Shortly thereafter Denver was out of gas.  He'd biked pretty much 3.5 miles uphill and his biking muscles just couldn't go any further.  The rest of us were so not ready to turn back.  I proposed a compromise:  Denver and I would stash our bikes and hike; Douglas and Aurora would keep biking.  We'd all meet for lunch somewhere up the trail.  All agreed, so I stashed our bikes, covering them with ferns.  We handed over one hydration pack to Douglas and Aurora and away they went.  The funny thing is that you can be totally tired from biking but get off and walk and your legs feel fresh, so Denver and I were feeling good.

This was a challenging stream crossing with the bikes!
Not long after that we started getting to avalanche chute crossings and snow.  The first crossing was a little dicey.  The snow was melted where the waterfall was coming down, and we had to scootch over the snow so we wouldn't slide down the waterfall, then drop over the edge into the stream and cross it.  Douglas said it was challenging with the bikes.  The trail continued to wind upward gradually.  After two miles, near the first campsite on the trail, Douglas and Aurora stopped and waited for us.  I guess we weren't that far behind despite the fact we were hiking and they were biking.  We ate lunch, watched the mountain sheep or goats (too far away to tell which) on the mountain above us, then headed back.
Snow on the trail, about mile 5.5, just before campsite and lunch break.

Going downhill, Douglas and Aurora made really good time and they had to wait a long time for us.  They got our bikes out and waited (and waited and waited!) for us.  When we got there they took off.  We all agreed to meet at the trailhead, though Denver and I ended up catching up to them and passing Douglas on that final uphill.

Aurora and Douglas, all ready to go after lunch.  They were so ready for the downhill!
That downhill was incredible!  All those miles we'd gone up we now went down.  I didn't pedal for miles.  I held on and braked!  It was insane!  It was a blast!  It was such an adrenaline rush!  And when I was done my arms felt like they were going to drop off!  We were muddy.  We were wiped out.  But that is the trail I would do again in a heartbeat!  How to describe it?  It defies words. 

I appreciated that the trail itself was in good shape, without the bumpity bump of a kazillion rocks and tree roots, so I was able to enjoy the ride more.  Yes, once again I was disappointed that we didn't get further up the pass.  It is 10 miles from the Seward Highway to the Resurrection Pass intersection, and I knew we wouldn't get that far, but I'd hoped we'd get further.  I just remind myself that we can do this again, and hopefully Denver will grow and get stronger.

Aurora's muddy legs!  I love those glowing, white feet.
Summit Lake Lodge is just 10 minutes from Devil's Pass so we headed up there for dinner, after letting Aurora swim in Summit Lake to clean off!

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