We’ve got a great story about kayaking on the Bailey’s Canyon section of the North Fork of the South Platte River in Colorado, but it’s a paddling adventure. We’ll not go into detail here, but it’s sufficient to say that it was huge, a first trip down, and we’d hooked up with a West Virginia lunatic who’d soloed it in the dusky hours the night before. We met him on the highway at the takeout.
We did the run and managed to reach the takeout alive and mostly unscathed, albeit alive with a paddling buzz and a little weak in the knees. After a round of bullshitting and backslapping, we made the determination to rustle up some dinner. We’d heard that there was a pretty good burger joint in town. Now ‘town’ in Pine, Colorado, is a bit of a misnomer. It’s been a decade since we were there, but we recollect a small collection of dusty houses strewn along a 1/4 mile section of County Road 126, southwest of Denver.
We turned up the gravel road in downtown Pine towards Sphinx Park, a greenspace of sorts that beheld, unbeknownst to us at the time, Sphinx Rock. As we neared, our jaws dropped with disbelief. There towering above us was Sphinx Crack, a heinous splitter, straight up the imposing granite face of the rock outcrop. Legend has it that the crack was formed by some yahoos dynamiting something they weren’t supposed to be. Anyway, at the time, Sphynx Crack was a testpiece for anyone who thought they were a good crack climber. It was famous worldwide. We’d come for paddling, but landed squarely in a place that was a destination for serious rock climbing.
We were recently patrolling the IMBA website and discovered some information about one of their designated Epic trails. The Buffalo Creek Trail System rounds out the list of potential fun outdoor activities to be had there in Pine and the surrounding areas. The list also includes hiking on the Colorado Trail, awesome flyfishing on the South Platte River and skiing in the winter. It’s too bad that we didn’t have our bikes with us back then. We think we’ll add it to the growing list of places we need to go ride.
The Buffalo Creek Trails are listed as being intermediate difficulty. We suppose that we’d expect some sweet, flowy singletrack, a few spots of bare, decomposing granite, and some lungbusting climbs. The System is apparently about 20 miles in total, but from what we read in user reviews, it can be linked to other trails to make truly epic length rides. If we could go out there and ride it in 2.5 hours, we’d be doing well, considering we’re flatlanders from Arkansas. The Buffalo Creek Trails earned 4.5 stars on Singletracks.com and 4.4 chilis on MTBR.com.
The most appealing part of a return trip to Pine would be a post ride throwdown at the Bucksnort Saloon. It’s a special place, the kind that is just as good anticipated as it is by accident. The Bucksnort is a full service restaurant and bar, although it is family friendly these days. There is really only one menu option one needs to consider — the half pound Buckburger, a trough of fries, and a pint of their Antler Ale. We can promise that you’ll never imbibe in a more fantastic place. If you’re a fan of big rocks and cascading mountain creeks, you’ll love the Bucksnort.
This brings us to our first visit. We were all of age, so we planned to have the requisite beer and burgers. It took us a few minutes to absorb the atmosphere once inside. The walls and ceilings are covered with business cards and sharpie signatures. Ours are there, we’ll check on ’em when we go back. One detail that we’d love to see again was in the men’s restroom. One of our good friends returned laughing from a trip to relieve himself. When asked what was so funny, he only said that we needed to go check out the bathroom. With that, we had to go have a look. Once there, we took advantage of the facilities. As men sometimes do, a mid-piss neck stretch revealed the source of our friend’s comedy.
There was something stuck on the ceiling. Granted the restroom was a bit dark, being lit by a single, naked 40 watt bulb. It was a shock to see it. Most improbable was how it could possibly defy gravity. It took a few seconds to compute how a turd could hang there, unaided by any visible wires or hardware. It was even moldy. It defied logic. At the time, we were studying science, so there was no turning back. It couldn’t be real. The only way to get objective truth about the nature of this spectacle was to…you guessed it, we touched it. In true Pine, Colorado rock climbing tradition, we stemmed from the piss splattered rim of the toilet across to a Jackalope head mounted on the wall to be able to reach the turd with our outstretched forefinger. In a scene as worthy as ET phoning home, we debunked the idea that a real piece of shit, no matter how sticky, can adhere to an upside down horizontal surface. Ah, the beauty of science!
Anyway, we hope to someday get back to there and ride all of those trails that we know lay among the spectacular granite domes and soaring evergreens of the Platte River valley in Pine. We’re excited to stretch our legs and hammer some sweet singletrack. Being an IMBA Epic trail, we’re sure that it’s going to be awesome. A trip to Bucksnort will be icing on the cake. A Buckburger is not to be trifled with, so we’ll have to bring our A-game and that means we’ll have to run ourselves empty. We wonder if the surprise in the bathroom is still there. We hope so.