The Gentleman’s Wasatch

Got a chance over the weekend to get after a ride I’d heard about a year or so ago, down in To-Hell-You-Ride, CO. A buddy of mine who lived there for years told me of a gondola-assisted high country affair they liked to call “The Gentleman’s Wasatch” a.k.a. The Wasatch Connect a.k.a. Nellie Mine Trail. Something about steep alpine singletrack and a 3500′ descent piqued my interest, something fierce.

I had a crew that was going to mission this one last summer during the Mountain States Cup race, but we got rained out on the day we planned it, then simply ran out of time the rest of the trip. This year’s Yeti Tribe Gathering was in Telluride, and we had a wide open day to make it happen on Friday. The weather looked dodgy so we got after it early, hoping to avoid afternoon thundershowers. The ride starts at a little over 12,000′ near the top of the Gold Hill Express lift and drops in to the Bear Creek drainage, just outside of the Telluride ski area boundary.

Below are a few photos that my friend Mike and I took from a pretty epic day on the bike…

We started off from our campsite on Ilium Road, and pedaled in to town on some sweet singletrack via Galloping Goose and Valley Floor trails.

Once in town, we bought a map at a local shop, got some additional beta, and hopped on board the gondola. At the top, as we were readying for our ride a fella named Corey introduced himself by asking if we minded if he tagged along. “Oh… do you know what we’re riding?” I replied, thinking plans of our route might have been overheard at camp. “No idea,” said Corey. After explaining that we were basically climbing straight up the ski area and expected a fair bit of hike-a-bike, but would finish with a really steep, long descent… he decided he was game and off we went. Steep was definitely the defining word of the day… and I really feel this image puts a pretty good perspective on our climb/hike/ride.

Almost to the top. Let’s do this.

Dropping in was delicious… a narrow ribbon of scree-filled singletrack starting from over 12,000′ and traversing 50 degree slopes with steep, tricky switchbacks. Corey coming across the first traverse, Hirsch behind.

Taking in the views and potificating life. Such a different perspective from here.

Switchbacks. Did I mention switchbacks? If you look closely, you can make out the trail zig-zagging across the face of the slope, and you might even spot Hirsch if you look hard enough.

As the trail drops to Bear Creek it gets easier, but not easy. Lots of techy moves and rock ledges exposed over 20′ + sheer drops to the creek. This is the view towards Telluride after descending to the creek, about to start the traverse along it.

Wildflowers were POPPING brilliantly everywhere. Hirsch against a blown-out, cloudy gray sky that threatened to unleash hell on us but never did.

Once through the exposed stuff, the trail got SÜPER fun eventually giving way to steep, winding, over-grown, rocky, amazing singletrack through lush green forest. Descending this was a lesson in keeping your eyes up, but back, and braking fingers at the ready as the trail descends all the way to the Bear Creek Trail, which is basically 15′ wide town trail strewn with rock gardens. Once back in town, we explored a local bike shop (Telluride Gravity Works) then made our way back up the gondola to tick off a bike park lap and a couple of “in town” trails that took us back towards camp. We finished back down Galloping Goose, a little over 30 miles and 6,400′ of descending for the day.

**The brighter, moar awesome pictures are credited to Mike, the duller ones are mine. I really should take my photos in to post before posting.

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