Day 1: Mountain Bikepacking: the La Platas
At 5p.m. Wednesday, July 14, Doom and I left our house in Mancos, Colo., to do some mountain biking. We rode until dusk into the San Juan Mountains (specifically the west side of the La Platas). It has been raining daily for weeks, and our forecast was a bit grim, with major thunderstorms predicted for our entire trip, through our weekend at Eric Johnson’s Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge. But, summertime temps are typically so hot that neither of us cares much about the rain. It sounded quite nice to be cool and wet for multiple days. However, despite beautifully moody and cloudy skies, it barely rained on us the entire trip, and the ground was equally not that muddy. Our first night we camped in a random clearing in the forest, where ranchers had just re-dug their irrigation ditches, disturbing the landscape so much so that we didn’t feel anyone would notice our impact. We dined on delicious Heather’s Choice meals, cheese and avocados and enjoyed beer and my new favorite drink, hard Kombucha. Yum.
Day 2: Uphill the Whole Way 😰
We peddled uphill almost the entire day, up to and over the Morrison Trail, down to Rico, and then back up to the Calico Mountain Trail. Big day for me. Not sure how many miles we did, or even how many miles the entire trip was. But I took a nap immediately upon reaching camp, getting up only for dinner. Steve, of course, is an energizer bunny and never tires. He took photos all evening. We set camp atop a mountain ridge with full views of the shadowy mountains all around us. What a sunset! The uphill hike-a-bikes were particularly brutal this day, but the views and peaceful camp made the suffering worthwhile.
Day 3: Downhill! YAY!
Definitely the most fun day of the trip, we peddled a lot of single track until we reached Lizardhead Pass and the highway. It started dumping rain on us upon reaching the road, but we didn’t mind, as almost the rest of the entire day would be a downhill ride. YAY! A few miles after getting soaked by passing cars and pouring rain, we picked up the Galloping Goose Trail, which we took all the way to Telluride. FUN! It’s an old railroad track, and so 90% gentle, but fast downhill on a really clean trail. A bit of uphill took us to Telluride’s fun and flowing valley floor trails. The rain really picked up as we made our way to Max and Hilary’s house in town. Hilary made us a delish dinner of salmon and salad, and we rested and relaxed.
Days 4 & 5: Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge
Steve, Max and Sarah Swallow rode up to the Mount Hayden Backcountry Lodge, and, because I hurt my back pretty badly, I hitched a ride with our friend Tyler to Ouray, where the lodge’s proprietor, Eric, gave me and Saddle dog a ride up to the lodge. We spent the weekend there enjoying friends, playing games, eating delicious food made by Eric, hot tubbing, walking the dogs, hiking around his gorgeous property, and just, in general, enjoying being in the mountains. It rained every day. No one minded. After 20 years of drought, all rain is welcome in our world.
What a trip! We don’t have permits to guide this entire trip, but we can guide some of the trails and roads that we rode days one and two. And I think next year we’ll work on putting a similar route together, ending at the Mount Hayden lodge. What a way to end an awesome mountain bikepacking adventure. WOW.