Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday the 16th, 2009 - Colorado Trail and a broken wrist

Yesterday, Friday, I went with Jeff on an epic mountain bike/hiking trip on the Colorado trail. Cheri had to drive us into the mountains towards Deckers. The trail head was about 1/4 mile south of the river junction where the North Platte and South Platte converge and then head east down to Denver. We started up the trail around 2:30pm. At first I thought the trail would go up a bit and then follow the river. My son said it wasn't a bad trail. Later, we would find out he had only been on a small part of the trail on the other side. The trail ended up being an expert mountain biking and an expert hiking trail. It was only 18 miles so I thought, what the hell, at the worst we could walk some of it.

After two hours we reached the first summit. We had biked and hiked continuous steep trails and switchbacks. The elevation at the base was 6,000 feet. The summit was just over 8,000 feet. The weather was absolutely perfect and the views were straight from post cardville. We had brought eight 28 ounce bottles of water and gatorade, a few bags of nuts, five protein bars, and layers of clothing in our backpacks. I really didn't think we would need all of that, but I was wrong and we were prepared.

On the second summit (markedly higher than the first) Jeff started to get altitude sick. He got a headache, nausea, fatigue, and very winded. The air was thin and we had been taxing our physical limits just to get up there. I told him to buckle up because there was simply no turning back. We were already at least 5 miles from any other people and on steep rocking terrain.

After a break we started down the backside of the mountain. The trail was narrow and very challenging, but we were able to ride some of it. We would come to these rocky inclines where we had to hike and carry our bikes. At this point we were about seven miles into the trail and I hit a rock. The trail was fairly steep and the ground and rocks were loose. In order to control your decent you pretty much needed to keep your brakes full on. I came up and over a small hill and jumped one rock only to hit the second large rock. It happened pretty fast, but I remember flying over my bike and hitting the rocks with my helmet first and rolling from my belly to my back. When I stopped my bike was on top of me and I was kissing dirt. My helmet and my backpack saved me. I did a quick inventory and found that I wasn't really hurt and my bike was in one piece. When I got back on the bike I realized my thumb was broken and my wrist hurt. Nonetheless, I started to ride to catch up to Jeff. It was very painful to brake with my right hand. We rode several more miles before the trail got nasty and my hand hurt too much to keep riding. From that point on we had to walk our bikes up and down insane obstacles. At one point, we had to carry our bikes down a long series of boulders that ranged from two to three feet drops. By now it was dark.

Our only light was from my son's cell phone. We hiked in the dark with our bikes for about five miles. Finally, when I was to about to call it a night and camp, we reached the Waterton Canyon trail and we knew we were maybe a mile from the dirt road. We made it to the care taker's house and called Cheri (other than being a flash light, our cell phones were useless). This was a gated trail so Cheri had to call the sheriff. When they reached us around 11:30pm, we were still relatively warm, dry, hydrated, and just starting to get hungry. When we told the Sergent where we had come from, her mouth dropped and she was amazed. Even she said that was an insanely difficult trail. If I hadn't been in such good shape, I never would have made it. My 18 year old was completely spent. Other than my hand and some blisters, I was okay.

When they dropped us off at Cheri's van, I realized my head hurt pretty bad, so the sheriff escorted us to the emergency room. They gave my head a CAT scan and x-rayed my hand. If I had a concussion it was mild. My thumb and wrist were bruised, swollen, and fractured. They put a partial cast on my hand and sent me home with pain pills. Now that the swelling has gone down it hurts more. On Monday or Tuesday after all the swelling has gone down, they will re-examine it and put a full cast on it. When we finally got home it was 2am.

My workouts will have to be adjusted, but I can still ride the virtual bike and work on some of the weight machines. Other than the hand and a sore neck, I'm not much more sore than I am after a long road bike ride. If I can get my butt out of bed early enough, I'll try to hit the gym before the football games. I weighed 313 this morning. Finally, more progress.

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