We too, must shatter the mirrors. We must look in to ourselves and root out the distortions until that thing which we know in our hearts is perfect and true, stands before us.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
Today was a blessed day of straight, fast riding. We took off from Dry Creek (after our morning routine of cooking/eating/cleaning/bike-repair/packing) and headed off down the single track. We came upon an abandoned cattle ranch. Dave S said something like, “Looks like a good place to catch the hantavirus.” I decided to do some exploring.
The wood looked awesome. It was not to be the last abandoned structure we would see today.
The trail was pretty easy going- flat if not smooth. Almost restful after the many long climbs over the last few days. We eventually hit the highway and I turned my phone off airplane mode. I received a handful of messages- most of them unimportant, only one of interest to me. We were able to get a call out to my sister, Tammiy, who was watching our kids, and I was able to talk to Trinity. I made an attempt to send other messages, but service was sketchy at best.
With the rain of yesterday, we determined that the standard route to Wedding Bell Hut would be better for us. So we rode the flat/rolling roads. You’d think it would become tedious but it was really quite fun. We talked and joked and took pictures. We stopped for lunch at a cattle guard and laughed at Jeff taking down his pants to apply Mom Balm to his wounded butt.
The road eventually became more “jeepy”, and we had a serious of short descents and climbs until we got to the hut. It was amazing to reminisce about the variety of terrain we had passed through these few days: high mountain meadows and passes, groves of aspen and pine, open prairies with views for miles, junipers sparing with groves of oak trees, and now red dirt and a view of sculpted canyons.
At one point on the ride I saw what looked like a pile of old, rusted cans. I stopped to check it out. Dave C joined me. It turned out to be a rubble pile from around 1940 (we guessed from the type of cans/logos). My favorite find in this pile was a Pepsi can, bottled and distributed from Grand Junction, Colorado. I regret not getting a picture. I also found a porcelain button. It was clearly trash from miners.
We got to the hut and began the recovery routine. It was amazing how fast we had knocked out the miles today! We were at the hut and it wasn’t quite 3pm. Jeff went exploring, and when he came back he said something like, “Well I’m insane. I haven’t had nearly enough riding today! Who wants to go ride with me some more!” Ha ha ha! No, it wasn’t really like that. But he did want to explore some of the alternate route. The other boys were too tired, and wanted to use the water they had rationed to wash themselves off a bit (after hiking away from the hut quite a ways).
So I went with him. My motivation for adding to today’s mileage? I wanted to remember what it was like to ride without 25 pounds on my back. I didn’t want Jeff wandering off alone. AND I wanted to see the alternate route as well.
We took off and it was clear we weren’t going to be able to go far (at least I wasn’t). Though I felt fine enough to ride, the sand was loose and my rear tire was tractionless (aka “bald”). I don’t know how far we went when we came across an abandoned mine camp site. The first thing we saw was the outhouse.
We hiked up to what looked like the radio room and work house- we didn’t bother looking for the mine shaft- and we had fun trying to determine the dates that this place was occupied. Further down the slope we found an old stove, piles of trash which were fascinating- old mason jars with lids intact and soda pop bottles promising a 5 cent return.
Jeff was great company to talk about politics, religion, philosophy, and life in general.
When we got back to the hut the others were refreshed and dinner was in process. Dave C is a phenomenal cook! I took the liter of water left in my pack bladder, my gray pants and tank, soap, razor, and an Old Chub on a hike. When I found a spot with a fantastic view and 1/ 2 the Old Chub was gone, I hung my water on a tree and proceeded to wash myself. The water was cold, the soap was peppermint scented, and when I was done my legs were like silk. I stood there on the edge of the canyon with the La Sals taunting me on the horizon, and dried in the breeze that was blowing in a thunderstorm. It was one of the best moments of my entire life.
I lotioned and dressed and hiked back to the hut to a dinner ready for consumption. And another Old Chub. We ate out on the picnic table as the storm blew in from the west. The rain started and we grabbed what we could and hid inside the hut just as the heavy drops pelted the metal roof, making a racket we had to compete against. Fortunately we were up to the task. Jeff in particular was in rare form tonight. He went off about things he liked, good experiences he had, but was particularly eloquent in his dislike of certain things (honeydew melons, the Afganistani-look to this particular hut….)
Wave after wave of storms passed over us. The pattern always the same. Strong wind, light rain, heavy/aggressive rain, light rain, silence. Repeat. Before long, I was exhausted. I put in my ear plugs, bid the gentlemen good night, and I dropped off to sleep.