Mt. Evans Ride with Fuji X-T1
January 30, 2016
I’ve ridden my bike up Mt. Evans at least once each year since I returned to road cycling in 2009. I’ve done the longer rides from Evergreen and Idaho Springs when I have had the fitness for them, but most of the time I just start at Echo Lake, as I did for this ride. However, this ride was special because the road was closed to cars.
I had heard that it was ok for bikes to go up, so I planned a leisurely ride up there with my camera as a chance to capture some of the scenery without the crowds and the traffic. The road can have a fairly high amount of traffic on summer weekends and I am usually just intent on getting to the top. This time I grabbed my Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55 zoom on it and clipped it onto my hydration pack strap with a Peak Design Capture Pro clip. It was not the most comfortable arrangement ever for cycling, but by clipping it high up on the strap, the lens rested against my arm but didn’t prevent me from comfortably holding the handle bars. I really wanted to bring my 16mm prime, but I needed to keep weight down and I also wanted to avoid changing lenses since I’d have to take my pack on and off. The whole point of the capture clip is to keep the camera ready to shoot.
Upon arriving a few other cyclists had confirmed that it was ok to ride so I walked my bike around the gate and set out. The ride starts in Colorado lodgepole forest at 10,600′, but the forest will give way in less than a thousand feet of climbing about three miles up the road.
Once you get above tree line, the views really open up and the winds tend to increase.In the first photo below you can see the last of the trees and the white like up ahead is the road above Summit Lake, around mile 10 of the ride. The second photo below shows a stretch that is almost always straight into the wind, and this ride was no different. In fact, the winds were worse than usual, and straight on, causing me to struggle along at about four miles per hour. Experienced riders know though, when you have a headwind in this section you can look forward to a long, mostly straight section below Summit Lake where the mountain will shelter you from the wind.
As I climbed higher and higher, the remaining drifts of snow on the sides of the road grew larger and larger. Somewhere above twelve thousand feet I stopped to take this photo of my bike against a huge drift of snow.
This view of Lincoln Lake is just beyond the area of construction. I have some photos of that from the descent.
The next two below are the long sustained climb up to Summit Lake.
The feature photo on this post is of Summit Lake and the one below is as well. For the photo below, I stopped my bike in a few inches of water and put a foot down on a rock to take the shot. The water exiting Summit Lake is supposed to flow under the road, but it is high enough that it is still flowing over the road and you have ride through it to get by.
The climb away from Summit Lake was so sheltered from the wind that I was hot in the high altitude sun. I didn’t stop much along there, but here is one view of the cliffs below.
After climbing away from Summit Lake there is a brief downhill before you reach the final relentless switchbacks to the summit. This is also where you get your first glimpse of the peaks to the southwest of Mt. Evans.
As I got into the switchbacks, I glimpsed my first mountain goat of the ride ahead in the distance. Also note the marmot living in the huge pothole up ahead.
As I got higher up I stopped to snap a photo of Mt. Bierstadt and take a breather. I have no idea which switchback this was taken from. They seem to go on for ever.
The summit sign at the top hadn’t been put out yet. I guess someone would likely steal it without staff up there. Instead, I took the summit photo looking back on the road. Here you can see the long, mostly straight stretch between the initial switchbacks and Summit Lake.
There were several goats at the top hanging around the visitor’s center.
And I caught this series of a goat climbing down.
The ride down is never fun. The road is so cracked and rutted that you have to descend carefully and feel the thump, thump, thump, of the many cracks across the road. To rest my hands a bit, I stopped to take a few photos of the construction that had the road closed to cars. You can see that a good amount of a lane was lost.
The road opened again in July and I didn’t make it up there again in 2015. I’ll be back in 2016, but it’d be nice to have the road closed to traffic again. It was nice to have a leisurely ride with my camera to capture these images. I think I’ll plan on jumping the gate again, as the opening nears next year.
Click below to see the full photo album.