Going Places: Tales from the road: Telluride to Moab, Day 4
Virtual adventure: Telluride to Moab
Hail, hunters, and hash
September 11, 1996
7:15 a.m.: The clear sky has clouded up again and raindrops begin pelting me. I gather up my stuff and head back into the box for a little more shut-eye.
11:30 a.m.: After an acceptable breakfast of cold cereal and tea, and some half-hearted hut cleaning, we are generally ready to go. I take the liberty of writing a note to the next group that will come along, informing them of the water we found down at the unoccupied house, as well as advising them to not bother complaining to Joe since he
11:50 a.m.: A few minutes down the road, we run into Rachel, who Joe sent up to resupply the huts. The first words out of her mouth are, “Don’t bitch at me, it’s not my fault.” She has water for us and intends to stock the rest of the huts.
1 p.m.: Today’s route is almost annoyingly straightforward. We ride 32 miles from Spring Creek Hut to Columbine Hut along the same, gravel Forest Service road. It’s not particularly challenging, with 1,800 feet of both ascent and descent. Plus, it’s not at all technical. Sometimes the washboard does beat us up a little bit when there’s no way
1:25 p.m.: Turns out, we’re in for a lot of weather. It starts hailing and raining in sheets, along with some serious wind. Oddly, like most storms in the region, it passes quickly. We continue.
1:40 p.m.: Annabel and I, pressured to ride hard by the storm’s urgency, have taken a bit of a lead. We stop at a trailhead and dump our packs so the others will know where we stopped and decide to explore a little off to the side. We pass a veritable hunter’s metropolis where nearly a dozen camp trailers and tents are set up. We can tell
2:10 p.m.: After a brief rest with the reunited group near the trailhead, we head out again. This time, Paul and I take a fairly early lead trying to warm up again after sitting. At a steeper section he pulls ahead.
2:25 p.m.: I come to our next big milepost–the junction with the road to Montrose, Colorado. Paul has pulled away from me and is nowhere in sight. I look around and figure he must have decided to keep making good time and head off.
3 p.m.: Paul’s still nowhere to be found. I start to worry that the main group is too far behind, but with the thunderclouds still a threat, don’t want to fall too far behind Paul either. I ride faster.
3:30 p.m.: I still haven’t seen Paul, and I’ve nearly made it to the hut. I see a group of cattle ranchers off to my left and ask if they’ve seen him. They’re ranchers in the classic sense of the word–horseback, floppy weathered hats, and friendly drawls. No, they haven’t seen Paul. I ask them if they know where the hut is, having only a
3:45 p.m.: I make it to the Columbine Pass, about a mile short of our hut and still haven’t caught Paul. Now I’m a little concerned.
4:45 p.m.: After scouring the area where the hut is supposed to be and finding nothing, I begin to doubt myself. I go back to the main junction and hunker down under the porch of an empty Forest Service building and wait. Another cloudburst comes through, dumping hard. I’m glad to be on a covered porch.
5:34 p.m.: From the porch, I see Paul and Mark whiz by. Paul had been behind me all this time. After catching him and the rest of the group, some sense is made of the situation. Paul had pulled off the road to look at some mushrooms. I flew by him in hot pursuit, only at that point, in hot pursuit of nothing. Keil had a flat tire, so Mark went
6:02 p.m.: Having regrouped, we go together to the hut. Paul and Keil have the precise directions and the keys so we find and enter it with no problem. The evening from then on proceeds uneventfully. I whip up some canned corned beef hash, a personal favorite, and Annabel boils some potatoes and makes some more soup. We also are treated to
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