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Riding on top of Button Rock

A Saturday morning ride with Duncan is bound to involve some hike-a-bike. Typically this means pushing bikes up a steep downhill trail. But yesterday’s ride acheived an entirely new level of transferring bikes along routes that cannot be ridden, we rode off the top of Button Rock. Maybe you’ve heard of Button Rock reservior, the Button Rock trail, or Button Rock mountain. Well, all of these are named because they are within sight of one giant hunk of granite that is the actual ‘Button Rock.’
  Six am is our normal start time for Saturdays, and this day found us bumping along a steep, rutted dirt road in the small town of Pinewood Springs. We had turned off of Highway 66, onto County Road 47 and were heading up to the Johnny Boy camping area. We parked at the trailhead and stepped out to the soothing sounds of a generator running outside a fifth-wheel camper. As the sounds of camping faded behind us we pedaled into the vast network of trails that make up this area.
   The Pinewood trails fall mostly in the category I would describe as ‘rolling.’ I trailed along behind Duncan and Brian, and I felt like I was never quite ready for what came around each corner. I would think we were settling into a downhill section. I’d drop my seat a little and grab a few gears, then just as I built up speed, we’d pull through a tight switchback and onto a technical hillclimb. I’d struggle to shift into a climbing gear, torque down on my pedals and slog up another short climb. When I’d reach the top I’d find myself dropped by the others who had already started into another fast downhill. The trails are a fun combination of pine forest singletrack and riding over big rock slabs.
  Riding without any flow or rhythm is a very inefficient way to burn a lot of energy. I can’t say I learned to predict when the trail was changing, but keeping my chain closer to the middle gears helped. Finally, we reached to top of the trail, or at least the top of the ridable trail. We pushed our bikes across the soft pine needles of the forest floor and arrived at a rock face. Here we each shouldered our bikes and began a challenging scramble over the rounded granite.                                                                         


We were all happy we were riding flat pedals and sneakers without cleats. Duncan was especially pleased with how well his 5.10 brand biking shoes gripped the rock. Go figure. The scramble wasn’t especially steep or technical, but we did climb past a climbing bolt.

Seriously, a climbing bolt.

The top of the rock has a nice flat rest area. A natural basin set in the stone was full of rainwater for a temporary pond complete with reeds and frogs. We sat for a while and enjoyed the view.




  Then it was time to get off the rock. We started riding along on the granite slab. The rock provided plenty of traction, right up to the point where gravity took over. Some of the rock faces were so steep, that our tires just skidded along towards the fall line. The best we could do was settle in over the back wheel and feather the brakes for a little bit of control.
  Once we came down out of the rocks we joined up with a trail that leads all the way down to the Pie Shop in Pinewood. The trail is in pretty rough shape. The floods of 2013 came pouring through the creek bed along side the trail. Deep ruts ran through some sections, while downed trees ensured some more hike-a-bike. A disheveled hiker with two tired dogs met us on his way up and asked how far to the rock.
Hiking along washed out and overgrown trail

  Between washouts and tree crossings, we got a taste of how the trail used to be. Curving singletrack weaved through thick forest at a nice pace. It was a fun cool down after the crazy path we had covered. Riding on top of Button Rock isn’t very easy or practical, but sometimes it’s just fun to put your tires off the beaten path.


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