Beyond Bananas – Rides and Hikes Around Salida

July/August 2022

10-20 miles or so at a time on the bike – 3-14 miles or so at a time on foot

I sat around. I hung out with my parents. It was slow and sedentary for that first month in America. It was okay, I had used a whole lot of energy in May and June wrapping up work and that section of life. A bit of rest and relaxation was in order.

But then… that level of couch potato was just too much. I have energy again. I want to use it. And I want to build a little bit of fitness, so that jumping on the bike when I get back to Oz is not quite so painful in those first weeks. Plus, people come to places like this for ‘high altitude’ training. Let’s take advantage of that.

So while my parents are doing their slow start to each day, I get up at 5.30 and go for a 7 or 8 mile hike in the hills behind their neighbourhood. I can put in a 1.5 or 2 hour hike and be home before they’ve finished their coffee. They live just a 15 minute walk from a trailhead that gets me into the S-Mountain trail system.

The S-Mountain trail system is an awesome biking/hiking trail system just on the edge of Salida. My parents live a 15 minute walk from the North Backbone trailhead which is the one that comes in from the top in purple.

Some mornings I hike into town and back to pick up bananas or other fresh food. Some days, when my parents go out to eat at places without gluten free options, I hook up a bunch of the trails and do 10-13 miles while they are out eating. I push myself hard and do the trails at a fast hiking pace. On some bits I pick it up and jog a bit. Without my asthma or hay fever bothering me and a good level of energy again, I feel a bit like a super hero in ability!

On the trail in the early AM. My parents live in that cluster of houses in mid-screen in a subdivision outside of town. They have awesome views of that Sawatch Range from their deck. There are several 14ers over there.
Lots of volcanic rock to hike through in the Arkansas Hills behind my parents’ place.
Looking down on Salida from the Sweet Dreams trail on S-Mountain. The big mountain behind town is Methodist Mountain.

On other days, I take one of my dad’s bikes out for a spin. I don’t go too far as it is a low-end ‘comfort bike’ and not really suited to serious road riding. I usually do about 15 miles but have done 25 miles a couple times. I still take it out onto the highways but cannot take myself too seriously on a bike like that. With the upright riding position and short top tube, I feel a bit like Kermit the Frog cruising along. Whatever, if it rolls, I’ll ride it. But maybe not too far since I’m not confident in the mechanics or quality of the tyres!

I feel exactly like this riding my Dad’s Marin.
Our bike rides often go by Frantz Lake. The guys always want to float with those big 14ers in the background for scenery.
Sometimes Verne wants to go faster, so he hitches a ride with my Dad in his ’32 Ford Roadster. See Verne over there in the pocket? There is normally an Ernie, or a cup of coffee, that rides in there.
My dad also had heaps of fun over a few months building two Chopper bikes for us to ride around downtown Salida. He used about 10 bikes from garage sales and thrift shops to build these cool bikes. It was a nostalgia trip for him as he had built me two different Chopper bikes when I was 12/13.

My dad fixed up the three bikes my parents own so that we could go for a ride together. They hadn’t ridden bikes in 6 years, so I was a bit concerned how it all might go. Old people scare me in traffic sometimes – reaction times and traffic awareness seems to diminish over time!

We loaded up the pick-up, parked in town and then rode three miles out to Elevation Brewery. There is a bike lane or bike path the whole way.

Oh dear, we’re not off to a good start. They are riding on the Australian side of the road!
There is a nice bike path from Salida to Poncha Springs that we used. Never far from a mountain view in Salida.
A ride along the bike path to Poncha Springs.

My mom had a bit of trouble getting off the bike at the brewery and had an ungraceful dismount, but nothing a beer couldn’t fix.

It would have been nice to do a few more rides with the folks, but my mom suffered an injury not long after this pic that has precluded further rides together. So I just take the Marin bike out for rides on my own and go places they wouldn’t feel safe riding. Note Verne and Kermit have a great new handlebar bag to ride in when we get home. That little bag goes on the front of a Salsa front roll which will house my tent on the mtn bike.

After the beer refreshment (not for me) break, my poor Mom couldn’t quite get her leg over the bike when remounting. She took a big fall, gashed open her finger and wrenched her back. I applied first aid while my dad rode back to get the truck. Our family bike rides were finished.

We have done some other hikes around town together and will hopefully get in some more family hikes after my mom’s back improves. She is slowly getting better and spending less time on the heating pad each day.

My mom on the Spartan West trail. Salida also has a big hiking/biking trail system below Methodist Mountain. The town in mid-picture is Poncha Springs.
My mom on the Spartan West trail. All of the trails on S-Mountain and Methodist Mountain are between 7500 and 9000 feet elevation, so the vegetation is mostly pinon pine-juniper forest. It is all very rocky.
The hike this day was another section of the Colorado Trail.
The guys got the chance for a float. We also took the bear my mom has carabinered to her backpack out for some fun, too.
On the Colorado Trail near Angel of Shavano campground. I think that is Mt Ouray in the background, another 14er.
Soaking up the parent time. When your folks get into their 70s, you never know if this is the last trip that you will see them. And some of these trails are the last time we will hike them together as their physical capacity diminishes and some trails just become too rocky or steep for them to safely hike in the future.

So amongst all the family time, you’ll find me out on the trails each morning getting my lungs, heart and leg muscles back in shape. I am feeling so good and have so much energy – all the work on the gut and the strict diet is paying off. Now we just need to build back the physical stamina.

Whether on the bike or on foot, I love moving through the landscape at first light in that cool, pine-scented air. When it is quiet, and the only sound is the crunch of gravel beneath your feet, anything seems possible, even the promise of a nearly-full recovery and all the fun and adventure that goes with having full stores of energy.

4 thoughts on “Beyond Bananas – Rides and Hikes Around Salida

    • Thank you! I did a hike on Thursday where my body told me that all was going to be okay. I am continually amazed at what my body can do now!

  • You rock Em! Congratulations on your perseverance and patience – it’s really paying off. And I’m so happy for you!!!

    • Thank you! There’s a long way to go with the gut stuff, but I feel like the ball is finally rolling (and in the right direction). I hope you have some spring touring plans getting put together and a chance for some travel finally.

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