Featured Image

Chasing Fall in the Sierra Nevada

Escaping the city for golden hues and tight singletrack

Sometimes the best adventures arise from a hearty dose of spontaneity. When Bike's new video editor Satchel Cronk offhandedly expressed a desire to chase fall last Thursday, no one expected a hard-drive full of autumn color to appear in the office Monday morning. After a last-minute invite, I hopped into the remaining spot in a gear-packed car and the two of us hit the network of California highways in search of trail fabled to be hidden among the changing seasons.

Waking up in sight of the sparkling ocean one morning, and jagged temples of stone the next.

While California is not necessarily known for brilliantly hued fall seasons, vibrant color can be found in certain micro-climates throughout the Sierra Nevada range. With snow-capped peaks reaching heights over 14,000 feet, the steep slopes at lower elevations rapidly fill with color, as aspen groves flourish along glacier-fed creeks. Below, the rich landscape melds and fades to the uniform color and geometric anomaly of dry desert and slickrock.

With a spirited determination to explore each unique landscape by bike, the days began early and finished late. Tiring in and of itself, the long days were exacerbated by lungs accustomed to coastal California living. Early morning ascents commencing at 10,000 feet seemed at first treacherous, yet became a welcome sacrifice for ripping descents through picturesque landscapes, slickrock playgrounds and tunnels of yellow hues.

29ers instead of 49ers, and a gold rush of a different kind.

To say it was a whirlwind would be an understatement, and to assume it was a restful weekend would certainly be false. But just like the season, this wonderfully fleeting and magnificently colorful 40 hours was a gratifying respite from the usual grind. One wild weekend chasing fall, and back to the office in time for Monday morning roll call.

Preparing fuel for the chase. With fall in the mountain air a warm breakfast is much appreciated.

 

Dropping into a slickrock wave.

 

The last of the sun’s show, in an amphitheater of giants.

 

Seek and ye shall find gold (and stoke).

 

The weekend weapon, perfectly matched to its surroundings.

 

Long roads, big views and a simple recipe for feeling small.

 

Breathtaking trail, and not just because of the thin air.

 

Earning every foot of vertical is a challenge up here, but the rewards are infinitely worth it.

 

Rewarded.

 

Tired bodies happily pause for a moment of reflection before the descent continues.

 

The dreams, the chase and the efforts paid off in some of the most joyful trail imaginable.