29 October 2011

One Waterbottle and Imminent Danger

I live quite near the trails where I ride.  Near enough to feel a little bit guilty now and then about my seriously awesome proximity to some of the the finest trails in the southwest.

But, we don't really live in the woods; we live in a modest neighborhood, surrounded by houses.  I can see The Peaks from my backyard, but from my house, I can only actually see one trail;  I can see it when I'm standing in my driveway.  It's called The Lost Burrito.

The Lost Burrito is one of the oldest mountain biking trails in Flagstaff.  It was here long before I got here in 1991, making it's official debut as an aptly-named-trail in the very first-edition of my friend Cosmic Ray's Fat Tire Tale and Trails guidebook, which is now in its umpteenth revision.  In fact, before it was a mountain biking trail, The Lost Burrito was a sheep driveway which lead from the Schultz Creek drainage up to the bucolic meadows in the twin calderas collapsed lava domes atop the Dry Lake Hills.  You can follow the blazes, which are still set deep into the bark of the older trees, nearly from the top to the bottom.

Thing is, almost nobody rides The Lost Burrito anymore.

Back in the day, when I first started riding it, it was a hairball of a trail... 1200 vertical feet of crazy, rocky, steep trail, with a few genuinely scary no-fall zones near the top.  It was very difficult to ride up, and always required a few portages.  But it was pretty much rideable down, if you had the courage to stay on your bike while locked into a terminal skid on a steeply sloping trail.

I hadn't been on the Burrito in several years... perhaps as many as five, until today.  Since moving into our new house in June, I've been staring at it daily... and it's been calling to me... quietly but persistently coaxing me to come ride it.

So today I did.

No longer merely a hairball, the upper quarter of The Lost Burrito, quite frankly, humiliated me.  What had once been a rideable test-of-courage was now nothing more than a near-vertical screefield, a rockslide, a viscous, unpredictable talus-slope-of-terror.  I walked several parts of it.

Fortunately, the view from the top is still spectacular.  And descending the much-less-steep, still-swoopy-fun bottom three-quarters of The Lost Burrito trail is great enough to almost make you forget about the fear you tasted on the upper portions.  And seriously, how often does one ever get to descend 1200 feet in under a mile?  So I walked a bit of it.  It's still an amazing claim-to-fame for a trail (or sheep driveway) of any kind, fully rideable or not.


If you're curious you can view my entire Lost Burrito Loop at Everytrail; it was a shortish ride for a Saturday morning... Dogfood to AZ-Onceler to Little Gnarly to The Lost Burrito... about 11 miles... but a perfect just-one-waterbottle ride.  Watch as I descend at under 4 miles an hour!  Better yet: Watch-and-learn as I avoid Schultz Creek Trail in its entirety on a Saturday.


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey