CT 01 Training – Waterton to Rock Quarry

Since we got new bikes last week, I wanted to get out and do a big training ride to work out any kinks.   New bikes always have minor issues, including bolts that loosen, cables that stretch, etc.  We decided to do the first segment of the Colorado Trail from Waterton Canyon up to an old rock quarry above the South Platte River.  When we officially start the trail on the 5th of July, we’ll take an alternative start which is a bit higher in elevation, takes some distance off the first segment, and is more bike friendly with sweet singletrack.  But I had heard that the ride up Waterton was quite pretty, and if we were lucky, we’d see bighorn sheep that call the canyon home.

Day 1 – Waterton Canyon

CT Denver terminus
CT Denver terminus

The initial ride from the parking lot is a gently inclining road that hugs the South Platte river for several miles.  This river is a major source of water for the Denver metro area, and as you climb you pass the Marston Diversion Dam.

Marston Diversion Dam
Marston Diversion Dam

At six miles you pass the Strontia Springs Dam, set back from the main road and protected by gate.  It’s a cool looking structure, over 240 feet high with water flying out of the base of the dam.  The dam was completed in 1983 and is the exit point for the 7700 acre Strontia Springs Reservoir.  

Strontia Springs Dam
Strontia Springs Dam

Beginning the Climb

At this point the road thins out and starts a steeper climb.  And then the road becomes a real trail.

start of the trail
start of the trail

As we got going on the trail, we were pleased with how the bikes rode, as well as our fitness level.  Kyle specifically noted that “This is easier than the Kokopelli,” which was music to my ears – our increased training since March was paying off.

Another improvement over the Kokopelli was finding water at several places along the trail.  

figuring out how to use a Sawyer Mini filter
figuring out how to use a Sawyer Mini filter

We stopped at a few creeks to refill our bags, and to take pictures of waterfalls.

one of two waterfalls we found
one of two waterfalls we found

I read there was a fair amount of “hike-a-bike” along this section.

hike-a-bike
hike-a-bike

As we ascended, the wildflowers start to show up.  The columbines in particular were plentiful.  As the day warmed, the scent of pine became really intense.

wildflowers beginning to show
wildflowers beginning to show
columbines in droves
columbines in droves

The Summit

Sure enough as we got near the summit Kyle’s bike started to act funky.  The bolt which binds the derailleur cable to the bike had come loose, and the cable got wound up in the derailleur. We pulled over and using our trusty built-in Stumpjumper toolset, were able to get it back in place and get 10 out of the 11 gears working. Kyle groused a bit about not having the 11th, which is admittedly the most important big ring for climbing, but dealt with it.  A big part of this ride is learning how to deal with adversity.

We got on our way, and as we got to the top we were treated to great views.

great views at top of climb
great views at top of climb
we are headed to that burn zone
we are headed to that burn zone

South Platte River

From this point, we had a fun steep technical section of switchbacks down to the South Platte. At the river, we crossed over the river and parked on a bank.  

crossing the South Platte
crossing the South Platte

There we refilled water, washed socks and bandannas, and just hung out for a few hours.  

washing stinky socks
washing stinky socks

Finally, we fired up the stove and had our ‘slop bag’ dinner. Eat it up, yum!

Kyle is not a fan of pasta primavera
Kyle is not a fan of pasta primavera

The Rock Quarry

After dinner we packed up, and began climbing up to the rock quarry. At about 7pm we arrived, and were quite pleased with the spot.

the 'rock quarry'
the ‘rock quarry’
and old truck and other crushed vehicles
and old truck and other crushed vehicles

We put up the Z-Packs tent with no issue. I love how easy the thing is to set up.

tent setup
tent setup

We got out of our bike clothes and into our thermals, and by 9:30 we were out. The next morning we needed to decide whether or not we’d go onto Buffalo Creek and do the Little Scraggy loop.

Gallery

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