Monday, October 15, 2012

Living On The Brink

Those of you who are mountain bikers and live in or have visited SLC know that we are blessed with a plethora of great riding in these parts.  Between Salt Lake, Park City, and Provo there are literally hundreds of miles of super fun trails.  However, despite the extent, quality, and variety of trails here, our venerable friend Peter Donner only rides one:  The Brink. 

The Brink is a route known by most, ridden by few.  After climbing the thousand feet to Big Mountain pass the climbing then really starts, with the next thousand feet happening in not much more than a mile of mean switchbacks, and that's just the beginning of the ride; many more climbs and technical descents await. Here's Ash on one of the mellower- but quite scenic - sections:

  with the notorious "Woods Of Despair" (I'm the only person who calls it that, as far as I know, but I'm hoping it sticks!) looming ahead.  The WOD a 1-2 mile section of trail traversing a huge aspen grove that has the requisite amount of downed aspens, exposed roots, and sharp gully ascents/descents.  The reward is a sublime view of Emigration Canyon, the Salt Lake Valley, the Central Wasatch, the Wasatch back, and even the Uintas in the distance, and then the descent; 2000 feet of fun, technical, brake-burnin' fun.   While "the ride" officially starts at either the top of Emigration Canyon or Little Dell reservoir, we like to start from home and spin up Emigration for an hour before hitting the dirt.  This puts the entire ride at something over 40 miles with approximately 6000 feet of vertical. 

Peter Donner has done this ride.....brace yourself.....approximately seven hundred times! 

Call it a silly obsession (as he does), an odd habit, or a lifestyle, but Peter really likes it and doesn't feel a need to do any other rides. So for the past dozen years-plus he's done The Brink from his Sugarhouse home an average of 55 times/year (and has recently broken his record and is now at 63 for 2012).  And the esteemed photographer Scott Markewitz - as an Emigration Canyon resident, couldn't help but take notice of Peter chugging up the canyon several days a week all summer laden with his huge fanny pack heading for The Brink. As a photographer always looking for a interesting story, Scott suggested a story on the Brink's benefactor for Bike Magazine, which they approved. So Saturday Peter, Ash, Scott and I went out to formally chronicle a Peter Donner Brink, forming a veritable Donner Party, as it were. 

Here's a shot of the little mountain ridge traverse, which after an inch of rain the night before, was a little gooey in places:

here's a rock that flipped up and got stuck in the clay:

and a nice descent after the grinding climb:

Here's Scott doing what he does the best of anyone:

and fueling up because he's toting 30 lbs of camera gear!
Part of Scott's photography acumen is the fact that he is strong as an ox and can hang with nearly anyone on a bike or skis, even with a phat camera and several lenses. 

Here's a shot of the big terrain we were traversing:

The Woods of Despair, claiming another victim:

despite the ramp on the uphill side of the log that Peter painstakingly put in with a trowel (in addition to his saw and axe work every spring).  On this wet day the WOD was more treacherous than usual due to the rains the night before. 

We usually associate The Brink with summertime's searing temperatures, but Saturday was damp and chilly enough to remind us that winter is on the nigh. And of course the leafing was primetime. 

Peter Donner, living on The Brink.....

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