Going Places: Tales from the road: Telluride to Moab, Day 3
Virtual adventure: Telluride to Moab
Spring Creek runs bone dry
September 10, 1996
12:20 p.m.: After a long, leisurely morning cleaning the hut (which we did fastidiously), eating breakfast, and packing our things, we finally set out. We have a 26.3-mile route ahead of us, much of which is descent from the Last Dollar Hut. For the first few hours we bomb gloriously down a rough, rocky old Forest Service road. In parts it
1:50 p.m.: Gradually the terrain has leveled. We now climb up and down–but pleasantly, mostly down–through random ranches and farmland. It’s extremely pleasant riding, but a stormcloud has moved in overhead and we’re now getting a little wet. This time of year that’s common. We fly down a few fabulous downhill stretches with pouring rain
2:15 p.m.: We’re spread out a bit now. In groups we pass by the actual ranch where True Grit starring John Wayne was filmed. For true Americans, I’m sure that’s sufficient reason to try this tour.
3:35 p.m.: Except for a brief section of paved road, the riding might be accused of being monotonous. But it’s too beautiful. We pass by old ranches, windmills, and modern palacial estates. I really cannot get over the aspen trees.
4:50 p.m.: We all flop down for an extended rest in the grass alongside the road. We’ve come just over 20 leisurely miles today and decided to chill before we take on the hill in front of us. Annabel pets a couple of horses while we all relax.
Suddenly, a blue pickup pulls up. Joe, the guy from the San Juan Hut System office, jumps out of the truck and throws a box to us. In it is an extra digital camera, some batteries, and a software upgrade for our original Kodak DC-50 camera. We had been having some serious problems capturing images since the day before and couldn’t explain why. A phone call to Kodak revealed
6:30 p.m.: We arrive at the Spring Creek Hut, a name that would soon prove ironically tragic.
6:40 p.m.: We unlock and enter the hut and find out that, apparently, gambling has been legalized in Colorado. Except instead of doing the whole casino scene, they invented “Hut Trips.” Here’s how it works: Go to Telluride. Ante up $425 at the San Juan Hut System. Then (here’s where the gambling starts) head out into the backcountry with a few
Just as this realization is setting in, we notice that the last group didn’t wash their dishes–they’re sitting in a nasty pile on the floor. Next, we start poking through the food stores and find them pretty depleted, just a random selection of canned soups and vegetables and some odds and ends.
7 p.m.: After a brief pow-wow, Paul, Annabel, and I head down the road with a couple of empty water jugs looking to fill up from a spring supposedly down the road. Instead, we find an unoccupied log home with a pump on the back side. We’re able to fill our jugs plus a few random Nalgene bottles. We’re very glad to have the water, because the
7:30 p.m.: After a seriously annoying mile trying to cart three gallons of water on my bike, I come to the hut. I thankfully had a rack on my bike and was able to make a little better time than Annabel and Paul. I turned around to go back and help. As I did, Joe from the office passed me on his way up. “I got your water,” he said. I turn
7:45 p.m.: Joe dismisses the lack of food and water as the result of one group of riders who “took baths and wasted it.” He’s scarcely apologetic. Frankly, none of us believe that with about two dozen five-gallon jugs in the hut, they couldn’t have kept it stocked somewhat better. Joe says he had just swung by to check on us because he had some
A quick poll among the members of the group later reveals the following evaluations of the San Juan Hut System: “Mickey Mouse,” I say. “Bush league,” says Paul. “Lame,” says Mark.
8:30 p.m.: We finish cobbling together dinner and begin thinking about bed. The food Brenda had sent up does a lot for morale–not to mention our energy stores. More tomorrow.
©2000, Mariah Media Inc.