June 17: Crested Butte to Aspen (Yes, we had to go back)

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read the post on our bike from Aspen to Crested Butte I suggest you do so now.

After some debate…we decided to bike back over to Aspen instead of some other variations involving a car.  We were able to convince Peter to take us to the first creek crossing at the bottom of Pearl Pass.  After yesterday’s bonking on the roads in town, we wanted nothing to do with them.

I can’t speak for Christine, but I enjoyed this ride much more than the previous day.  We chose to take Pearl Pass which went higher (12,705) than both of yesterday’s passes but it was only one pass…not two.

We were able to find away across the first creek crossing without getting our shoes wet and then it was off to the races again.  We both know the mountains around Crested Butte pretty well (she better than I) so I loved being able to look around and know exactly where I was.  It also doesn’t hurt that they are all very unique in appearance.

First stop, looking up at Teocali Peak. On my list of things to climb soon!

Shortly after getting on the official Pearl Pass road from Trail 400, we were stopped in our tracks by an amazing view.

Said amazing view. Still amazing.

Soaking it all in. We stopped here for a while. Couldn’t get over the view.

We had to spend a while hiking our bike.  The road got unbelievably rough and steep and no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t ride it.  However, the scenery was beautiful.  After going through a beautiful woodsy area we emerged in the alpine tundra.  Pearl Peak was directly in front of us as was the majority of our remaining climb.  To say that we felt small here is an understatement.

Getting towards the top of Pearl Pass.

Feeling teeny tiny at 12,000+ feet.

Once we were around the bend in the picture above, we had a steep section and then reached a level area just below Pearl Pass.  The views granted to us included Teocali and a great view of the Extreme area at Mt. Crested Butte.  We could also see over to our route from the previous day and down into an amazing green basin.  Apparently their is a 10th Mountain Division Hut buried somewhere down in there…would love to be up there in winter.

On the left side of the picture, you can see Mt. Crested Butte. Also known as Heaven on Earth.

The Wave of Snow.

Biking up to Pearl Peak and Pearl Pass.

After 5 hours of riding and close to 4,000 feet and 11.5 miles of climbing, we finally reached the 12,705 foot Pearl Pass.  2 days of climbing was finally over.

We made it! Pearl Pass.

Christine heads down Pearl Pass…all downhill from here!

We were on a mission to get down as quick as possible, but never in my life have I seen so many snowfields on a road in June.  We would ride for 100-200 yard stretches…get off the bikes, hike them across snow (a whole new challenge).   Not to mention the countless creek crossings/snowmelt runoff crossings.  Our shoes were soaked.  We would change socks to get dry and run into another creek around the next turn.

Finally we made it below the snow level and onto open road.  We let it lose and enjoyed being so close that we could taste it.

Amazing waterfall on our descent.

Christine was super stoked!

Shortly after the waterfall, we were back on asphalt for the final couple of miles of our journey.  To be going downhill on smooth, black asphalt felt amazing.  Feeling a sudden burst of energy we pushed our speed up 36 mph and pedaled home.

2 Days. 50 miles. 8,000 feet. DONE.

Day 2 Totals:
Elevation Gain: 4,277 ft. (9,156-12,694 ft.)
Time: 6:55

Miles: 50.55
Elevation Gain: 8,301 feet
Time: 15.5 hours in the saddle

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