Pictures and trip report here:
This TR is part of a new website that is very much a work in progress. Any suggestions are welcome.
Here’s the plain text version of the TR (boring!):
Mt. Evans - 14,264 ft
Riders: George Barnes (solo - unicycle ascent/descent)
Route: Mt. Evans Road II, Class 1
RT distance: 29.2 miles
RT time: 6 hours
Time to summit: 3 hours 30 minutes
Time on summit: 20 minutes
Time to trailhead: 2 hours 10 minutes
Elevation gain: 3,700 feet
Coordinates of TH: 39° 39.61’N, 105° 36.27’W
Coordinates of summit: 39° 35.32’N, 105° 38.60’W
USGS Quadrangles: Idaho Springs, Harris Park, Mount Evans
The night before the ride I was thinking that I needed to do something that would prepare me for a climb of Long's Peak the coming weekend, as well as an epic 36" unicycle ride with Aspen Mike next week over Boreas and Hoosier Passes. I decided that a unicycle ride up Mt. Evans would do both - if it didn't kill me.
I left Denver at 7 AM, a little later than planned, but still not bad. After fighting morning traffic and stopping for gas in Idaho Springs I make it to the Echo Lake trailhead (10,600 feet) by 8:20 AM. I unload my unicycle, slap on some sunscreen, and head for the fee station. I received the usual suspicious looks from the ranger as I paid my $3 fee and head up the road just before 8:30 AM.
The road was largely free of traffic at this hour - apparently vacationers don’t like to get out of bed early. I made decent time up the road, averaging around 9 mph. I have Chris LeDoux “Sons of the Pioneers” stuck in my head, and will for most of the ride. Perhaps it’s time for some new CDs in the car’s CD-changer. When I reached the road above Lincoln Lake I stop for a breather and snap a few photos. I’m at over 12,000 feet now and I can tell it. Unicycling over 12,000 feet is harder than hiking at 14,000!
I soon decided sitting on the roadside was a bad idea as 3 different people stopped and asked if I was ok. I'm riding a unicycle up a 14,000 foot mountain, of course I'm OK (just a little crazy). After a few more switchbacks and a lot of sucking wind, I reach Summit Lake (12,830 feet) at around 10:30 AM. I head down to the water to enjoy a now powdered pop-tart (grumble) and snap some more pictures. I answer the usual questions as I make my way to the kybos. "Yes, it's a unicycle." "Yes, I'm going all the way." "Yes, I'm crazy." "No, I'm not riding across the country (huh?!)." The going gets tough after Summit Lake, and I'm wheezing like a leaky dirigible by 13,000 feet. Thankfully some goats have occupied the side of the road and I have a legitimate excuse to stop. Upon closer inspection, I note that there are about 20 goats, some with ridiculously cute babies. I reach the summit parking lot at around noon, and hike to the top for a summit photo. I've averaged a little over 4 mph including some lengthy stops, and I'm not terribly proud of it. I feel out of place with a helmet and gloves in the parking lot teeming with tourists in sandals and "Colorado" sweatshirts. There's something to be said for climbing peaks where at most you see a few other people at the summit. I decide it's time to gear up and head down. Clouds are occasionally blocking the sun and the wind has picked up so I don a rain jacket. I've become something of a celebrity by now, and every car that passes slows to take my picture. A few people are nice enough to take my email address so they can send me the pictures. I once again reach the goats, who have moved to a slightly different location. I'm still a sucker for baby goats, so I snap some more pictures. After rounding the last corner before Lincoln Lake I stop again for a "circulation break" and note that the clouds aren't looking stellar to the west. I forgot my Chamois Butter in Denver and I'm paying for it now. Spurred on by dark clouds I saddle up once again despite the discomfort. I decide I had better get some pictures of Lincoln Lake for the TR, so I stop again while keeping a wary eye on the clouds. I get back in the saddle anxious to reach tree line at ~11,500 feet.
After a few more quick stops I once again reach the ranger’s fee station. I ponder “natural selection” as I see people still heading up on bikes. I reach the car by 2:30 PM and it begins to sprinkle just as I load my unicycle. I feel a bit tired, but in general pretty good. I realize that I forgot to apply sunscreen to my legs, and have some nice red calves to show for it. After an uneventful run down I-70 I make it back to Denver just in time for “stop and go fun time on I-25”. The clouds over Denver are looking threatening and I see a handful of lightning strikes to the west.