This is the Wilderness Expeditions "base camp." We're staying in the cozy bunk houses on the left. This place was used as a dude ranch many years ago before Tommy and Kristi purchased the property.
Here is a good view of Salida from the north, on the top of Tenderfoot mountain. The Wilderness HQ is on the south side (off the left side of the picture), at the base of Methodist Mountain.
Aaron is ready to rock 'n roll!
Daniel Anderson leads the group in a "Trek warm-up." Here 3 different groups prepare to head out to their different mountains. Daniel is one of the guides with our group. He has been doing this for a long time...they are in good hands.
The boys are climbing South Antora. They took off from Middle Creek trail head about 60 miles southwest of Salida. The mountain is not far as the crow flies from where we are staying, so it is cool to see the mountain and know they are somewhere up there.
I also saw on the end of my "intro to Salida" cruiser, once back in town, 2 guys who were competing in the Tour Divide race. I recognized them by all the gear they had on their bikes and the weary looks on their faces. I rode for a few blocks with Bruce (his buddy Mark was a little ahead) and he told me they had started at Breckenridge that morning, a mere 96 miles ago. They had crested a 12,000 ft. pass at some point as well. He said sometimes on the ride you "just get tired," but that you also see some amazing things. I imagine in the 2,745 miles that it takes to get from Canada to Mexico, they see a lot. To check out this amazing race, go to http://tourdivide.org/. There's also a documentary from several years ago you can find on netflix. We actually met the girl featured in the film, Mary, when we were at the local bike shop in Idyllwild, CA, in June. http://www.ridethedividemovie.com/about/
Absolute Bikes is a stop some of the Tour Divide riders make on their journey. I had asked at the shop if any riders were passing through. They said some had already come through and others were still on their way. It was that evening that I ran into Bruce and Mark.
One of my favorite parts of Salida is the local eateries. I'm trying to limit myself to one meal out a day, but it's not easy. The first morning I went with the ladies (2 moms and their daughters who are also hanging around base camp while their sons are on the trip) hit up Patio Pancake for breakfast. Other favorites are Amica's pizza and the Ploughboy farmer's market. The espresso shop, pictured above, has become my favorite spot in the mornings. For $1.50 I can fill my coffee mug and hang out.
The day was amazing. Now I know why so many people love the Rainbow Trail. Oh yea, I also saw a Western Tanager. I had to look up what it was when I got back, but you can see from this picture I snagged off the internet why he was hard to miss: (from zuropak.com)
I forgot about this place when I was mentioning local joints earlier. I had a chicken sandwich, grilled vegetables, and sweet potato fries at the Riverside restaurant. Not a bad way to end a great day on the trail.