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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Archives for October 2013

Bluegrass N’ Beers

Backcountry Brewery

So Travis heard of free blue grass night at this bar downtown in Frisco. He wanted to catch up with some people back at his old job at Backcountry Brewery so we swung by there first. Jeff hooked us up with free beer the night, which was awesome. I had about three or four pale ales and watched some videos of them on Facebook climbing in Moab, Utah. That place looks sick, especially the rope swing they set up. Just plain ridiculous.

We ended up getting tipsy and talking to this guy named Chip, full sleeves, 12-inch beard, biker dude who wanted to live off the grid. Travis left the conversation at some point. I lost him for an hour or so, but I talked to Chip about how I got to Colorado and my plan for the future. He thought I settled on the right approach. Traveling, even with no plan, is better than living with no purpose at a 9 to 5 job. His dream, now that his kids grew up, to move to Santa Fe or some part of New Mexico, off the grid, and live in a self-sufficient home. We talked about Into the Wild and Chris McCandless’ real reason for dying out in Fairbanks on Bus 142. He suggested I look into the books “Unbroken” and “One Man’s Wilderness.” If he sees me there again he said he’d give them to me for free. He thinks I would highly enjoy them. It pretty much talks about living off the grid, traveling and being your own person.

It got close to 11 and we decided to head out to catch the Blue Grass show downtown. We rushed out the door and I ended up leaving my hat and gloves there by the fireplace. I turned around to grab them, but by this time of night the glass doors locked and no workers left cleaning up for me to grab my cold gear.

I walked back to the other bar and met up with Travis. I decided to call them in the morning to see if my belongings still sat next to the fireplace. We jammed out to Blue Grass, which I’m not used to being from Delaware. The music actually sounded fairly decent. I bought Travis and I a PBR. It was the least I could do with all these free drinks he got me at the Backcountry Brewery. We ended up smoking a joint with some other dudes from Colorado. This one guy Kevin was waiting on his medical card. I spoke to him a little and told him about my story of how I ended up in Colorado. Before I knew it I was getting free pizza as a departure gift for the bus ride home, which was perfect. I gave Travis a piece since I knew the munchies affected him probably just as bad as they did me at that moment.

Travis, a rock climber originally from Michigan, moved to Colorado last January living out of his car in -18 degree weather on the north side of town until he found a place with our landlords, Tim and Kate. Travis graduated from college with a degree in Materials Science Engineering. He, much like myself, has no plans on using his degree until he wants to settle down, have a family and buy a house, which I completely understand. There is no point making all that money, enduring all that stress, when you can’t even enjoy the money stacking up in your bank account.

We ended up coming home at 1:30 AM. I made us a few PBJ sandwiches and we ended up crashing in our beds. That night I realized a mouse lived in my room. I heard his footsteps piddle, paddle across the floor and into the walls. I didn’t mind other than his noisy motions kept me up most the night, which is why I slept in so late today. All in all, a great night. I got wasted for the first time since I hitchhiked back from A-Basin with Will, and Kristen.

Cyclin’ to Baker’s Tower

Boreas Pass

I left around noon headed for Baker’s Tower cycling over Boreas Pass Road.  Kate mentioned a hike near the tower if I had the time to do so.  I cycled a total trip was about 30 to 40 miles total.

I ended up using Strava and my GPS to guide me as I cycled up the roadway.  I took the bike rec trail from Farmers Corner through Breckenridge down Main street and followed Highland Terrace, which is a dead-end street.

Water Tower Climbing Boreas Pass Road

I propped my bike up under the ladder to climb up on the seat and leap for the fencing!

My GPS sent me through part of a hiking trail, which I ended up pushing my bicycle up a hill for about two tenths of a mile until turning left on a neighborhood roadway.  Although, a shorter distance than Kate’s recommended route, the road grade being 6% made the climb extremely tiring and long.  I would think with all the technology, elevation grade, would be calculated into distance traveled especially cycling on a bicycle.  I would rather cycle two more miles on a gradual pitch than a 6% grade for half a mile or so.  It’s just not worth the wear and tear on my joints, knees and legs.

I made it up the hill and from there on a steady climb continued as I cycled up Boreas Pass Road for the rest of the trip.  I really needed a mountain bike for this trail since it switched to a one-way dirt road mixed with snow and mud.  I continued to trek up the mountain stopping above the dam, which partly frozen, reflected a luminous blue up through the mountains.  I could see pieces of ice in the water below and in the distance nothing but mountains covered in white near the peaks.  Clouds forming their own weather system around them.  The view, breathtaking, made me bask in the beauty of the outdoors.

After breaking for a half hour I continued cycling up the mountain, my tires making a “squish” sound with the mud underneath them, as I pedaled up the gradual grade.  Mud flung up covering my rear rack and the lower portions of my bike, but my slow pace made it impossible to get completely covered, at least not yet.

Baker's Tower Boreas Pass Road

This is Baker’s Tower on Boreas Pass Road!

I stopped at a tower that I thought might be Bakers Tower, but later found out it was just another water tower, this one for Boreas residents.  The ladder locked with a gate and fence continued over the ladder for ten feet or so off the ground.  I perched my bicycle underneath the ladder and balanced myself on the seat.  This gave me the proper leverage to leap for the ladder.  I jumped and grabbed on the fencing and gate door pulling myself up until my feet planted on the locked gate door.  Climbing the ten foot did not faze me.  I just planted my feet and found hand holds until hopping over into the ladder shaft.  I grabbed some cool pictures of the mountains from above and scurried down after seeing a few vehicles go by me.

Water Tower Climbing Boreas Pass Road

The steep climb up Boreas Pass Road tired my legs, but the incredible views made it worth it!

Water Tower Climbing Boreas Pass Road

A long trek up the road! This is meant for a mountain bike, but I went road bike status!

Baker’s Tower – Cycling Over Boreas Pass Road – Boreas, Colorado

Water Tower Climbing Boreas Pass Road

Boreas Pass Road does not loop around so I needed to go back the way I came, which luckily was all downhill!

Bakers Tower, even more of a challenging climb, sat perched by the dirt road near the trail-head of a hiking trail.  I did not climb this one as too many people drove by and I risked getting caught.  I just remembered the place for a later date.  I continued cycling for four or five miles past the tower until turning around.  Boreas Pass Road does not loop back around like I originally thought.  The rest of the 15 mile ride, all downhill, got me completely covered in mud.  My pack turned shades of brown and red from the muddy clay squirting up beneath me.  My shoes crusted over with a film of dried mud and my socks became cold and wet from all the debris flinging up as I descended down the mountain.

Water Tower Climbing Boreas Pass Road

The view of Breckenridge Mountain from the very beginning of the trail head right before climbing the water tower!

I ended up cycling 30 miles for the day and I stopped at Godspeed Tattoo to schedule an appointment for a chest piece which I might get done today.  It will join my trip here from Delaware via bicycle and depict skiing, hiking, hitch hiking, cycling and Anarchy…the nomad’s lifestyle.  I’ll post pictures here later.

bouldering, hiking, cycling, backpacking

Swan Mountain

I woke up and hung out for a bit before grabbing my new GoLite JAM backpack, some essentials and my bicycle, which somehow still runs from all the abuse I have put it through.

I set out for bouldering on Swan Mountain, which if you remember from the earlier blog posts was the mountain I trekked over after camping at Prospector Campground.  After pedaling at a steady 7 mph pace up the side of the mountain 2.5 miles I reached the plateau point where the Sapphire Point sign stood.

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I locked up my bike and hiked around the loop, snapping pictures of Dillon Lake below, soaking in the view of the overlooks down on Breckenridge.  I never got the chance to stop there earlier in the year due to extreme exhaustion, blistering cold temperatures and the fact I just wanted to find the Fireside Inn to relax.

Anyway, the trail looped in a circle, which made it easier to get back to my bicycle.  I hopped on and descended down the mountain towards Prospector Campground.  The park, still closed, (Government Shutdown?), but passerby’s allowed to walk the trails freely as they please.  I locked my bike to a wooden fence post and hiked up the trail next to the closed gates.  The trail, covered in dead wood, soft dirt and debris, continued on for a few miles.  Kate told me cliffs for bouldering existed at the end of the trail.  I took the wrong path though because I peeped down the end of the trail and did not see any bouldering cliffs.  I decided to veer off the trail and continue up the mountain towards the ridge line.  Bam…I looked down at 5 to 10 foot cliffs perfect for bouldering. Mixed in between the cliffs included lone boulders, fallen dead trees, and an old, crusty rock climbing shoe with a few holes near the sole.

Bouldering on Cliffs in Swan Mountain, Colorado

I found it! This was the bouldering spot she referred to last night!

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I messed around on some of the smaller rocks scaling them with relative ease and then decided to put on my pack and follow the cliffs down to where they overlooked the park.  I climbed a few spots with my pack on and my minimalist shoes.  I jumped a few five foot gaps, hopping back and forth between cliffs before stumbling upon a 10 foot boulder overlooking Dillon Lake.  I placed my fingers on some small holds crimping the boulder in front of me and found a few foot holds to wedge my feet into the cracks of the rock.  Within a few minutes I scaled to the top.  Snapping a few panoramas and pictures overlooking Prospector Campground and Dillon Lake.  I sat there for maybe a half hour soaking in the sunlight on the warm 60 degree day and enjoying the beautiful view overlooking the city of Breckenridge.

I continued to follow the cliffs back towards where I parked my bicycle.  My phone works now so GPS and Strava defined my place in correspondence with my bicycle.  I took a different trail back, the one I was supposed to take originally, but I overlooked it in the beginning since the grass covered the trailhead.  As I continued on hiking over the rocks, ascending and descending some small cliffs, I noticed a huge overlook where the true climbing existed.  Twenty to thirty foot walls perched between the ridge line and the tree line between the campground.  I didn’t climb them since I did not have the proper gear, but bolts for leading stuck out of the rocks, so I will definitely be back here in the future to boulder and possibly lead (once I learn of course).

I ended up back where I locked my bicycle and enjoyed a steady downhill descend back to Summit High School where I followed the Bike Rec Trail back to my home in Breckenridge.

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I have an interview tomorrow with Wendy’s (Yes, I know, fast food, what the fuck, you have a college degree and should do something with your life), but no one wants those jobs because they suck.  So you can always find work there.  Between that, part-time Algebra tutoring and working at Blue River Sports, I should save up some money over the next six months or at least break even while I ski for the winter.  Then it’s off to continue my wanderpunk lifestyle, which will advance to hitch hiking, train hopping, leather tramping, and cycling.  A nomad at his fullest potential.

I also plan to bike the Boreas Pass loop tomorrow.  Kate said it’s about 40 miles total.  I might bring my GoLite JAM backpack and hike up to the ridge line to snap some pictures and view the scenery from up there.  There’s also an old tank up those parts so I’ll be doing some climbing again.  It’d be great to camp up there too, but I am still waiting on my tent to come in the mail, which should arrive on the 28th of October (Happy Early Birthday Dad).

Peace!

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.:Jungle:.

cycling, backpacking, golite

Without a Glove

Cycling to Silverthorne

I woke up and ended up cycling to the library in Frisco to use a computer.  I needed to see how to fix my tablet.  In the past few days my phone and tablet broke down, but I managed to fix them after buying some parts on Amazon to reflash a few custom roms.  After several hours of tinkering with roms, radios, and different settings with NoGood we finally got it to work completely well.  My service is actually better now after flashing that radio.  I don’t understand that, but I’m happy.

Anyway, I spoke with Kate and she suggested I go to the GoLite store in Silverthorne to get a GoLite JAM backpack.  I thought the nearest place was in Denver, but after confirming with her and checking Google Maps, sure enough, one was in the Outlets.

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I ended up biking down the Frisco Bike Rec Path headed towards Vail and Copper Mountain instead of veering towards the library.  The breeze felt great since the weather this week yielded warmer temperatures compared to the past few weeks of blistering cold weather and snow.  I ended up following signs to Frisco and stopped at a visitor information center where the woman behind the counter gave me directions to Silverthorne.

Cycling to Silverthorne to Buy a GoLite JAM Backpack

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I followed Route 9 towards 6th Avenue and turned on Dam Road.  Much of the bike path meandered around Dillon Lake.  The scenery, even more beautiful from this side of the lake, depicted shadows of trees in the reflection cast from the sun peeping over the mountain tops.  I stopped to take in the scenery and snapped some pictures.  The best part of the bike ride came when I crossed over the dam.  Nothing but miles of clean, blue water spread throughout the dam with mountains of brown and green blended into the background and snow tops of white touched the clouds.  The temperature began to drop and I continued looking for the store not knowing the exact location since the GPS on my phone did not work.  I rode around for a bit asking for directions until finally someone gave me the correct ones.  I arrived at the store and spoke with Randy who advised me to go with a small frame GoLite JAM backpack.  I really wanted a 50 Liter, but only 35 Liter packs dangled from the store shelves.  A small 50 Liter would be on backorder until December.  I could not wait that long so I took a chance and bought the small GoLite JAM 35 Liter.  He told me if I returned it in 30 days I would get my money back or could exchange it for something else.

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He entered my name in the email list, which entered me into a drawing to win a base layer, puffy, waterproof lightweight jacket and waterproof ski pants all weighing under 3 pounds.  If I win I’m going to ditch my other gear and sell it on eBay.  Then I’ll have some more room in my pack for bread and peanut butter.  Everything else fit though.  A snug fit, but it’s interesting to know that everything I could need to live off can fit in a 35 Liter backpack that cost me $100.00.  This includes all my cold gear.  I stashed everything in there to see how it would hold up in summer conditions at the bottom of the pack.  Now to get down organization for future hitch hiking and train hopping trips.

I ended up talking to this guy for forever and before I realized it the sun started to set and dusk brewed over the mountains.  I left not realizing the temperature dropped about 40 degrees so my hands stuck to my handle bar for over an hour.  The skin changed to white as flakes started to peel off the crevices between my fingers.  I touched my face, my pants, the bike and did not have feeling at all in either hand.  I have broken my growth plate in my shoulder, and torn a tricep, both painful, but nothing nearly as painful as this experience.  Cycling home in the dark, not really knowing the exact direction of home, and barely being able to distinguish street signs due to my horrible vision made this a very interesting trip.  My only worry being frostbite.  Everything else felt warm, but your body takes blood from the least important areas first before reaching your organs.  So it’s very possible I could have gotten frostbite if I never made it home and slept in those conditions with no sleeping bag, snow pants and other warm layers.

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I ended up cycling home and as soon as I walked in the door I kneeled down on the floor crawling between the couches.  I rolled over on my back and sat on my hands for a good 20 minutes.  The blood rushing back to them felt more painful than being outside in the cold.  I began to  get cold sweats and felt like I was going to pass out so I did not stand up for about a half hour.  Everything started to come back after a half hour and within 45 minutes I sat up and finally regained feeling in both hands, joints and fingertips.  Never again will i forget gloves.  The temperature in Colorado changes so drastically, but I guess that would explain the extreme amounts of snow that get dumped here each year.

Anyway, I ended up cycling a total of 26 miles.  We drove over the dam before, but the experience of cycling on a bicycle is far better than a shuttle bus or vehicle.  I appreciated the scenery much more.

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Hiking Frisco Peaks Trail

Hiking Frisco Peaks Trail

Hiking Frisco Peaks Trail

Hiking along the bicycle path that goes between Breckenridge and Silverthorne, CO

I ended up hiking for about three or four miles today through National Forest finishing up in Frisco near the hospital.  The perfect day for hiking.  I changed out of my cold gear and trekked up the side of the mountain in sweat pants, minimalist shoes and a techwick t-shirt.  The breeze felt nice and I remained fairly warm for most of the hike until I stepped on snow and into soggy puddles of mud and goo beneath the white frosted brush.  For part of the trail I connected on roadways that looped around past Summit High School, but for the most part I just followed the noise of vehicles echoing from the highway and knew I would eventually end up in Frisco if I continued hiking in that direction.  I hiked through the forest, branches fallen over every few feet rotting on the ground, perched in between the dead trees that stuck out of the ground before me.  I followed the barbed wire fence that ran parallel to the road until reaching the Frisco Bike Rec Path.  I ended up hiking that for about a half mile until reaching Frisco where I took the bus back to Summit High School and wandered home.

Hiking Frisco Peaks Trail

Hiking down dirt roads to nowhere!

Hiking Frisco Peaks Trail

I stumbled upon some wildlife tracks either elk or deer!

While hiking, I saw two buck, bear tracks and a variety of elk tracks along the way pressed deep into the muddy trail.  I let my landlords know of my find so they can possibly scope out the places I hiked for potential hunting spots.  I took a bunch of pictures with my GoPRO…some great views of the forest and Dillon Lake are below.  Enjoy!

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