I think all six hut sleepers at the Dry Creek hut slept fairly lightly on night 3. The rain pitter pattered and then loudly pounded constantly on the hut's metal roof. If we had had a helicopter pick up scheduled for the morning of day 4, we might all have found the rain's voice a lovely sound, but instead, we rested fitfully knowing we might have very tough going with knobby tires on mud instead of rotor blades on air.
Less than 10 feet from the hut and already mud slicked shoes.
So we started out from the dry creek hut by carrying our bikes the quarter mile from the hut to the improved gravel road. After just that little way, we had to spend 15 or 20 minutes cleaning our shoes and bikes to be able to ride. But the skies were clear and the forecast was for just a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, so we began another day of pedalling.
As a matter of principal, mountain bikers normally stay far away from pavement. But when our route description gave us two choices: 1) more pavement leading to some singletrack on a rocky ridge, or 2) faster flat dirt roads through the heart of the Dry Creek basin with potential for serious tire-stopping mud, we had to choose the first. We had tasted what Dry Creek basin mud could be, and wanted no more of it.
Option 1 meant a good 7 miles in a pavement mileage-eating pace line. none of us “mountain bikers” showed the least bit of distain for our roadie environment.
Especially because that pavement took us to a pretty fun section of singletrack up a rocky ridge and down the other side.
But we soon abandoned the longer singletrack option to rejoin the dirt road route as we raced the rain clouds. We did not want to find out why the hut directors had given us directions and instructions for bailing out of the hut system here and getting a hotel for the night in the nearby town.
But despire our best pedalling efforts, we got caught out in a thunder storm, ... on a ridge, .... with knobby tires. A very bad situation. The previously smooth fast dirt road turned into a trap. Riding was out of the question - the tires became so clogged with mud, the wheels would not turn. We also risked damaging our drivetrains miles and miles from a bike shop.
Although we werre only a few miles from the hut, we were in a bad situation. We were at the highest elevation around with lightning not far away. We tried to carry our bikes, but with our backpacks and probably 20 pounds of mud on each bike, it was slow going. At one point, somebody suggested abandoning the bikes, hiking to the hut, and coming back for the bikes later. Clearly, we were desperate and delusional.
The storm moved off, we carried the bikes to the top of the final hill and cleared the tires enough so we could coast downhill a mile to the Wedding Bell hut. We were never so happy to be safe and off the trail.
We spent the next hour cleaning bikes and recovering from our ordeal.
But the hut master in the sky must have thought we had proved our hut worthiness because warded with fantiastic view and the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen!!!!
|Dolores River from the Wedding Bell Hut|
There were some old mining ruins and associated trash next to the hut.
This half sunset took our breath away!
We soaked in every last ray of that incredible view before a dinner of spicy vegetable soup. Tomorrow we would face the Catch'em Up trail, but for tonight, we rested in friendship.