Uncompahgre National Forest

Blue Lakes Hut Day 1: A little slice of heaven

 

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

 

How to explain? I am at a loss for words.

 

Let me just say a few things, and I’ll share the story of today in pictures. I’ll tell you what made this trip, this day, such a joy: I could not have asked for better company. Dave, Eric, Sara, Eric (aka “The Hoff”) and Kelly. These people, though relatively new to my acquaintance, make me smile, laugh, and be filled with deep appreciation for every single moment of the two days we spent together on this little trip. Even though I had a metaphorical hat to wear, and probably a reputation and image to protect, I felt like I could really just let down my hair, my guard, and be myself and that was okay. Priceless. I feel privileged beyond words to know these excellent people. Thank you. Thank you. From the depths of my heart, thank you.

 

Now for the story-

 

It started with an idea, like most things do. I’ve been coaching Kelly through some business planning for San Juan Hut Systems. Here was the logic: most of their clientele partake of their summer bike experiences, right? Well if you can engage those same clients year-round there is an opportunity for an addition revenue stream, right? And this fat bike thing is taking off like a Delta 747 out of SLC, right? So if we can successfully prove fat bike as a viable method for getting to one or two of the huts via fat bike, then they can be engaged in partaking of this growing market segment, right? Okay, you follow.

 

I proposed (or maybe Kelly did) that we set up a trial trail trip. We get some fat bikes, take a whole lot of media, and trip up to a hut. Spend the night, come on back. Take a crew of mixed ability….offer the media spots to the shops that loan us the bikes and use a bunch of it to promote San Juan Huts…assuming the experiment works.

 

I invited a handful of potential candidates and was excited to get a crew together. Eric is a pro downhill racer, and his wife Sara is a total badass on the mountain bike. They own All Sound Designs and their tech knowledge is off the hook (can I use that term? Yes. Yes I can.). Eric Hoffman is Sara’s brother. He also works for All Sound, and has been helping Eric develop material for his new project, Spintertainment. Kelly, as aforementioned, works with her dad, Joe, with San Juan Huts. Dave is the executive director of the Grand Valley Trails Alliance (of which I’m board chairman), and is also the guy that makes the Grand Junction Off-road happen. And then there was me. Six of us on six big ‘ol fat bikes.

 

(Okay, so I’m still kinda new at this blog thing. The pictures aren’t entirely in chronological order. Forgive it and get over it. Thanks!)

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Here I am riding! This was about 3 miles into the ride when the track narrows and turns into what we dubbed the “White Ribbon”- the 12″ hard-packed (read: rideable) surface…

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Here’s Dave with a good look at the mountains in the background and the “White Ribbon” of singletrack. The only real problem here was that on either side of this little snow trail certain death was awaiting you to step off. Okay, maybe not CERTAIN death, but maiming for sure. If you stepped off you sunk immediately into 2+ feet of unpacked snow. You had three choices: 1. Jump off quick and try to keep your foot on the trail, 2. Fall into the snow then have to struggle back up like a turtle attempting to climb back onto the diving board, or 3. rail yourself. 

But the falling off wasn’t even the challenging bit. The hard part was getting back on and moving once you did stop. It required traction, so the tires were deflated to maybe 4psi, and energy, which you lacked because you were just turtle-ing on the ground, and at times it was a fairly steep grade.

At one point I found myself completely alone in the woods- Dave and Kelly too far in front of me to see, and the others coming from behind- and I thought I was going to lose my mind. I kept trying and trying to get back on the bike and get moving, but I couldn’t do it. It took some real mental focus and concentration to relax and breathe and try again. I did, obviously, eventually make it, but it was MENTAL.

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Dave again. To get this shot I had to lay down in the snow. It actually felt pretty good. 

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So I ended up getting back on the bike and just going non-stop until the final steep incline up to the hut. I pushed up the hill, took a sigh of relief, set my bike in what we lovingly dubbed “God’s Bike Rack”, threw down my pack and started running down the hill to help the others. 

Dave was next. I carried his pack while he pushed the bike up to the hut, opened it up, and got a fire going. Then Eric. I took his pack and bike and he ran down to help with the sled set-up. Then Sara and Hoff pushing bike/trailer. Then Kelly. So I think I made 5 total trips up and down that last incline. The others probably thought I was crazy (well, duh), but really it was for purely selfish reasons. It was funner than heck to run down that hill, and even more fun for me to help them all out. I wish I could have done more.

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Here’s our cozy little fire.

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Dave took this one with his FRONT/BACK app.

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Dave stretching in the doorway.

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The Hut windows at night.The Erics ended up setting up a sweet time-laps of the hut and stars. I can’t wait to see it!

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Okay, I told you they are out of order. This was way way back when we first got to Ridgeway.IMG_5423

 

The crew.

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Sweet tire/sun pick (I got a lot of these. The fat bikes are like supermodels- they know how to pose,and they always look good even when filthy

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Dave before we get started. He looks so serious. 12 hours later he was cracking the most offensive (and hilarious) jokes. 

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View out the hut window.

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Sorry, no shot of what I packed. But here’s what Dave packed.IMG_9691

 

All the bikes in “God’s Bike Rack”. If Jesus had a fat bike, he’d ride here, too!IMG_9692

Kelly!

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Hoff!

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Okay, another one of all the bikes. In my defense, we HAD to take a lot of bike pictures for our trip sponsors!

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Here we are on the climb up. This was less than 2 miles in. The sun was pristine. We all got pretty hot on the climb and started shedding layers.IMG_9697

Me and Sara chatting it up. I can’t tell you how much I respect this woman. She is, like, the bomb. And I really only use that phrase for people I REALLY like. IMG_9702

 

This was the view. Ha ha ha

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Kelly. I could say the same for her. She’s a few years younger than me and has already had some experiences most of us only dream of. She’s well-traveled, excessively smart, and genuinely cool. Again, a total privileged to be able to call her my friend. IMG_9707

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Entering the backcountry.

 

Stay tuned!