We climbed up a gravel logging path, and it got steeper with each turn. Dallas and I resorted to pushing, Craig rode it until the hike a bike started.
The hike a bike was up a steep avalanche chute. We were supposed to climb a ways, then catch a trail to the right to make it into the saddle between two mountains. It was so steet and hard to hike, everyone just looked at the footprints in front of them and tried to keep going. At one point we saw the leaders up by a cliff band at the top of the mountain, after who knows how long of burying ourselves trying to climb this thing, and it dawned on us collectively that this was wrong. Dallas had bolted right earlier without really being seen. 20 of us grouped together, probably about spots 8-25, and bushwacked right and down the mountain, after starting a chain of questioning down the mountain to see if anyone could see ribbons to the right (no answer came back). We were worried (through earlier example) of showering rocks down on the people below if we descended that way. I was cramping bad at the top from the climb.
Eventually we made it to the trail, which was fresh cut and hard to navigate with cramping legs. I finished all my fluids and we rolled down to checkpoint 2, where among other things I got a large blister on my right arch taped up.
From there it was the Bear Creek climb, which we spun out at a moderate pace without seeing anyone. The Bear Creek descent was awesome, we rode it solo other than passing one team of Norwegians in the last 10 minutes of it. Such amazingly challenging trail in there, it was super fun.
Blasted down the gravel road, with one final steep climb to Nipika. We finished 7th on the day, and were surprised Dallas wasn't in yet. He spent some quality alone time in the woods, and came in only a few minutes later.
Turns out our 6.5 hour effort should have been moderated. Everyone had opinions on the subject, but the end result was that the day's winners would receive prizes, but day 1's GC would hold. It does make sense, although it doesn't put much credit to anyone's ability to problem solve on the mountain side - front groups race each other so hard, when they screw up, it takes a long time to self diagnose. The Italians fixed their issue and finished 4th (descended with our group), but all those leading Rocky Mountain teams made different calls appparently.
Tomorrow is a TT with very, very sore muscles for a lot of people.