| Grays Unicycle Decent
Yes, yet another standard route trip report about Grays. While many 14ers.com readers might be bored with a detailed report on one of the more "user friendly" and easy mountains out there; this one is more about trail conditions for fellow MUni Riders.
Going up was the same as usual for hiking. Going down was a bit different. I was riding on one wheel. I didn't get a single picture on the way up. Many hikers took pics and video throughout the day. If any get forwarded to me or to this site, I'll add them to the roport. The snow is long gone so no need to show the conditions and the mountain looked the same as other with dry weather. Oh, and I had my hands full pushing/carrying my unicycle up the trail.
I slept in the back of the truck the night before. I had intended to sleep from 8pm-4am, but my short 2 hour ride the afternoon prior turned into a longer 4-1/2 hour ride that went into the evening. ---I often ride the trail with my running club. This time the trail was extra long: trail---> beer stop---> trail---> bus ride---> trail---> beer stop---> trail---> titty bar---> trail---> train ride--->trail---> On-In for beer, circle and pizza. 7:30pm and I was finally on my way to camp and hike the next day. I was tired and sore from the ride, didn't get to bed till 10:00 pm. There were vehicles pulling in all night long, semi rousing me from my slumber. I heard one group pull-in around 4:00ish saying that it was 37 degrees. Screw that! I stayed in my bed, rolled over under my nice warm 3 blankets and went right back to sleep. untill about 6:00. I'm not sure what the temperature was when I finally got up, but it seemed better than what I had heard a couple hours prior. After my late arrival, I had went straight to bed, leaving all my prepping and packing for the morning. I didn't hit the trail until 7:30---ooops, almost forgot the camera, and lip balm, and sunscreen. 7:40, and I was off for real. I rode across the road, over the bridge and after starting up the trail, I knew that I needed to save my energy for later. I walked 99% up the mountain. There are alot of ridable terrain headed up, but I had all my protective gear in the backpack. I did still ride the fflat stuff.
For all you fellow mountain unicyclists out there, I'll try to detail the useful information.
I was riding a KH24. It's the first year edition, so yeah, it's a few years old, but still runs great. The aluminium frame helps to keep some of the weight down. I'm riding a 3 inch wide tire that is 2-3 years old and been rotated a few times for more even wear. The tire still has a few knobs that are very worn, thus the tire did slip a couple times on a few uphill rocks and once up high coming down a dirt section. Next year my ride will definitaly see a new tire. (I miss the traction of my old 3"x24" Gazzaloddi!)
Summit shot; getting ready to ride. Yes, I had a helmet and leg/knee pads with me.
View of route back to the trailhead. (Click pic for bigger version.)
View to the West. (Over the back side.) (Click pic for bigger version.)
The trail is rideable directly off the summit. The trail is mixed with loose rocks that have been flattened my a million hikers, some 5-10 inch rocks that are just loose sitting there on the other wise flat trail, smoother dier sections, dirt with rocks firmly planted within, pedal strike rocks on the sides of the narrower trail segments. I was on and off the wheel quite a bit for the first few switchbacks off the top. The farther I decended, the better the riding was initially. You do come to a few steep sections of steep loose sandy dirt mixed with rocks that is better walked. I tried riding one which resulted in the only real fall. My gloves and KH knee/leg armour really saved the day there. Of course there were too many UPDs to count, but none of those were spectacular and I was able to grab the back of the seat on most of them. My brake handle survived the day, if that's any indication.
There is a longer section that I walked appoaching the big cliffy drop-off. After that it's ridable again for a bit. As the trail disippears behind the hillside, it steepens, gets loose and sandy and the largest 3-4 foot rocks on the trail are here, some you have to hike over and around. After you pass the rocks that tower over you on the right, the terrain becomes markedly grassier and far less rocky.
Now the real fun begins. The trail is still loosing elevation, but now it's flatter with stone steps/drops; one drop after another after another. Most are about 12-18 inchs, but some are 2-1/2 feet or more. Most have good runnout, but some fall into the next drop. The trail is dug-out here, so you do have to try to stay centered to avoid pedal strikes, but it's often wide enough to allow for two or three line choices.
After you pass a tiny stream you quickly enter the willows. The trail is mostly good here, but the willow encroach apon the trail from both sides, nearly touching and hide rocks from time to time. The closer to get to the trailhead, the wider the trail becomes as it traverses the hillside. Eventually, the trial begins to switchback down through the willows. By now it's 6-8 feet wide, sometimes wider. Also there are drops every 2-3 tire revolutions, sometimes closer. The trail is wide enough that you will fine a good line on everyone with a good runout everytime. I stopped multiple times to let my legs rest. It's a near perfect trail with firm dirt and the rocks are not loose. Any loose rocks on the trail can be easily threaded around.
After you break out of the willows, you gain sight of the parking areas. About 5 more minutes of steps and drops, with the last of them in the form of wooden beams. On across the bridge, up the hill to the truck.
It had taken me about 2-3/4 hours to hike up, then I ate lunch and took some summit shots, and about 1-3/4 hours to ride down. A great day on the mountain. The weather was mostly cloudy but the sun did shine through enough to make for a pleasant day. I was back at the truck at 12:30 pm. No rain or thunder.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):