TR: Mount Elbert Bike Descent (2 Oct 2015)

(Last Updated On: October 13, 2015)

Through the darkness I could still see shadows. As I gazed up toward the summit of Mount Elbert, there was an absence of light – shadows had engulfed the peak before my eyes. Those shadows were in the form of clouds.

“It was a starry night as I drove over Cottonwood Pass,” I explained to Jessica Martin and Joey Klein who had spent the previous night in Leadville to meet me at the Mount Elbert Trailhead. “I don’t know where these clouds came from.”

Jessica Martin making her way down on the technical trails of Mount Elbert.

The week prior, Jessica had finished becoming the first woman to mountain bike all of Colorado’s legal 14ers. By legal, we mean those fourteeners that are not in Wilderness, where the Forest Service has trails that are not closed to bikers, and that are not on private property. After much research, Jessica has rounded it out to a nice number of 14 peaks. We’ll have an interview with Jessica about her project in the future, but for those wanting to know – yes, biking is nearly the same as skiing. The bike must go to the summit 🙂

Joey Klein descending the North Mount Elbert Trail.
Joey Klein descending the North Mount Elbert Trail.

Though Jessica had finished her quest on Pikes Peak, she wanted to go back and bike Mount Elbert. Though it was the first fourteener she had biked, that had been a few years before. Upon returning, Jessica could now say she had biked all of the legal 14ers in one bike-season.

In the wee hours of the night, we began ascending the Mount Elbert Trail.
The start of the mountain biking trail on Mount Elbert.

To be honest, the weather did not look promising, and the forecast was questionable. But, we ascended anyway, in hopes that something would work out.

Spirits lifted as we rose above the clouds and into this magical scene.
Sunrise from Mount Elbert

The clouds had been the result of an inversion, and we were there to capture the blanket of clouds that guarded the valley below.
Sunrise on Mount Elbert

Sunrise on Mount Elbert.

Sunrise on Mount Elbert.

Mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

The summit of Mount Elbert lay ahead under crystal clear blue skies, still a couple of hours of climbing to go.
East Ridge and summit of Mount Elbert

Jessica soaking in the moment.
Jessica Martin climbing Mount Elbert

Me.
Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey riding a short section of trail.
Mountain biking on Mount Elbert

As we climbed, the clouds thinned.
Thinning clouds on Mount Elbert.

Of course, I always have skiing on the brain. These lines look fun 🙂
south Elbert

Close to the summit now! Jessica likes to carry her bike on her shoulders when traveling through talus like this, rather than push it over the rocks.
Mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Mountain biking on Mount Elbert

And there it was, Jessica stood on the summit of Mount Elbert for the second time with her bike.
Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

The Connections

It was a stark classroom completely devoid of windows. A sweet scent of phosphate chemicals hung in the air while 20-some-odd adolescent brains were being stuffed with chemistry. It was my classroom at Standley Lake High School and Jessica Martin was one of my most eager-beaver students.

Jessica and I reconnected a few years later, through email, after I had made the move to Crested Butte. Through FaceBook, we stayed in and out of touch. But, I was quietly watching her on the sidelines becoming friends with more and more of my connections on the Front Range.

You see, Jessica never noticed the dozen or so mountain biking posters I had clinging to the walls of my otherwise boring classroom, mixed in with various inspirational quotes and chemistry-related jumbo. But, I’d like to think that these mountain biking posters sent her a subliminal message, and that’s why she decided to take up the sport, thrusting herself into it whole-heartedly. And every time I saw her post something on FaceBook, she was biking something rad.

I watched Jess start and finish her fourteener-biking project with her periodic updates on Instagram. Reminiscent of my own fourteener-skiing project, I knew we had a lot to share. It was time to really reconnect.

So, I shot her an email and found out her plans to return to bike on Mount Elbert. Well, Mount Elbert is old hat for me – for both biking and skiing. I first biked it back in 2006 with Frank, who has probably ridden it a dozen times now. So, returning to bike Elbert with Jess seemed only natural.

The Route

Jessica’s plan was to ascend the traditional East Ridge, descend the more technical Northeast Ridge and loop it back to the trailhead via the Colorado Trail.

The Descent

While on top of Mount Elbert, we had to get our full gathering of summit pics.
Mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Then Jess decided to celebrate. After revealing she had brought up cupcakes to celebrate my birthday earlier in the week, she then busted out her Paul Frank – rainbow tutu costume…. complete with champagne for extra celebration.
Jessica Martin celebrating on the summit of Mount Elbert.

Selfie just before the ride.
Joey Klein, Jessica Martin, Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

The descent was loose and technical for the first third, then got a bit easier. The last half was about as fun as can be 🙂 Here’s a few miscellaneous pics.

Jess.
Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Recovering from a “tripod” move. It totally counts 😉
Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Jessica Martin mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Joey.
Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Joey Klein mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

Me.
Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

It snowed for just a few minutes…
Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

Brittany Konsella mountain biking on Mount Elbert

As soon as we hit treeline, the trail became flowy and fun!
Mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

The segment of the Colorado Trial we took south to meet up with our original trailhead was beautiful and easy riding.
Mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

We knew we were close to the end of our Mount Elbert bike descent when we reached the beaver ponds.
Beaver Ponds on the Colorado Trail

Mountain biking on Mount Elbert.

What can I say, I’m proud of my former chemistry student turned badass 🙂
Jessica Marting and Brittany Konsella

Can’t wait for more adventures together!

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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Summary
Article Name
Mount Elbert Bike Descent
Description
Join Jessica Martin as celebrates her accomplishment of biking all of CO's legal fourteeners with a sweet Mount Elbert bike descent!
Author

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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