I have a pretty good map collection, especially of the fun parts of Colorado, and with an overnight adventure on the horizon, I hauled what I thought would be all the maps I needed up to Winter Park so Scott and I could map gaze, ponder, and put together a good route for a final ITI shakedown for next weekend. Somehow, over the course of the first two days of the weekend, I stumbled across the High Lonesome Hut on the internets. I quickly pulled out the maps after reading the website description of the route and was gutted when I realized that the one map I really needed was sitting at home. Luckily, I had this map to go off of.
I guess in the end, while I was posturing the entire time that we’d be able to make a loop of it, starting in Tabernash, riding past the hut to Lake Granby, and then coming back on the highway, I really only had about a 2% confidence level in the route actually going past the hut, which was a two mile pedal up the road, and then three miles of trail. Perfect for a ‘2-hour L2 ride’. But I know better than to lead Scott on an out-and-back, at least intentionally.
So I parked the car as if we were going to do the loop and started off in 2-degree weather, quickly climbing into the sun and out of the inversion. The road went smoothly, and the trail to the hut, well the trail to the hut was nothing short of snowbiking heaven. Well packed, reasonable gradient, wide enough to not fall off, narrow enough to require attention, skill, and finesse.
And as I’d expected, the trail stopped at the hut. But there was a fainter, less packed trail that seemed to go in the Granby direction. What’s the worst that could happen? So we went, and lo and behold, the trail from the hut hooked back up with the road, and was remarkably rideable for having knee-high banks on either side. This is going to go all the way to Granby! I bet people were accessing the hut from the Granby side and we’re going to have smooth sailing the whole way.
It was delightful trail. Until the trail ended.
We consulted the GPS. 0.38 miles until a semi-major road. So we wallowed, following trail markers, devising new techniques for getting the Monster Truck ponies through deep powder. And we found the road…entirely untracked. So the pushing continued. And continued. And continued. Eventually we stopped to ponder the situation.
‘What do you think we should do?’ I asked.
‘I think we should eat this chocolate toffee bar,’ was Scott’s reply.
So we did, and after the deliciousness was consumed, we continued going forward because we both hate backtracking. Surely, the closer we got to civilization, the higher our chances of finding a rideable surface.
After about seven eternities, the Universe smiled, or maybe it was a smirk, and we found a snowmobile track. A snowmobile track that was a day old, set up solidly, and almost completely rideable. We followed it to civilization and snow covered roads. We followed the snowcovered roads to paved roads. And we followed paved roads all the way back to the car.
It wasn’t quite two hours. Even my self-imposed Law of Cosines couldn’t explain away the length of the rides in terms of the training plan, but for someone who was looking for a little bit of adventure, a little bit of unknown, it was downright perfect.
Who knew going off a hand drawn map of an area I’d never explored could end up so well. Embrace the unknown, and if you completely screw up the training plan, be sure to eat well, recover well, and chalk it up to experience.