Friday, July 12, 2013

Bushwhacking Adventure with Cioppa.

I can’t help it, it’s in my blood.  When faced with the decision to follow the more predictable and straightforward path, I always take the one less known.  I like to challenge myself, remind myself that I only live once.  I love exploring places I've never been, especially in the back-country.  Most of the time I find myself on a completely different path than I bargained for, I guess that’s kind of the point.  And most of the time I’m by myself, yesterday I was not; maybe not the best time to go down the unknown trail no matter how alluring it may have seemed.  I couldn't have asked for a better partner to go exploring with me though, Jenn Cioppa was a true sport.  I never even heard her curse although she promises she was, just not within my earshot.  I told a little lie prior to our “ride”:  “How long is this ride?” she asked, I lied and told her it was 4-5 hours.  I knew she wouldn't go if the time and distance were uncertain, details that don’t mean much to me.  I did however know, that if she did go she would for sure have an adventure, and I wanted that for her.  She’s one of those unassuming people that totally kicks ass on her bike, all on platform pedals and tennis shoes.

This trail is steeper than it looks.

I knew she was strong enough to do the "ride". 

I think we've died and gone to Little Elk!

    I wasn't sure however, as we were literally bushwhacking down at least  2,000 feet  of shrubbery, prickle bushes, downed trees, and loose dirt, if she wanted to kill me for leading her astray.  I decided to ignore the current state of ridiculousness and encourage her that we were surely “getting somewhere”.

Although this picture doesn't do it justice, this is "somewhere".
The plan was Jones to Dutch to Little Elk to Hermosa.  Pretty straight forward except for the minor detail that the Durango Latitude 40 Map likes to point out, specifically once you gain Little Elk:  “CAUTION! Route finding may be difficult in this area”.  This should really read:   “CAT MORRISON!  Do not attempt this trail!”  Yet another detail that causes a paradoxical reaction in me:  I must see where this trail takes us.  

Straight down the side of a ravine into an unknown creek is exactly where the trail took US.  Now looking back, we suspect where we may have gone wrong, and it was Jenn’s fault actually, not mine.  That’s the thing about adventures though; you have to be ready for anything.  I was confident that we were not lost but just didn't know where we were, with the exception of a momentary, 30 second, loss of reason, when I got a little concerned.  Any somewhat experienced back-country explorer (that should be me) knows that when in doubt go downhill and/or follow the drainage out.  Not knowing but guessing (wrong) what drainage we were in contributed to those 30 seconds of doubt.  We somehow ended up on Dutch Creek Trail and quickly found a creek to douse our scrapes, sore legs, and hot heads in.  It was the most refreshing creek I have ever experienced.

Happy girls after finding the Dutch Creek!
Jenn commented on my “thick skin” as she noticed my legs were not nearly as bloodied as hers, not sure what that’s about.  I had my share of scrapes however, more recognizable after my shower that left the bathtub full of very brown water. 

Jenn, showing off her sexy legs.
The four hour ride turned into an almost 8 hour day, but I figured we only rode for 5 of those hours, so I wasn't too far off!  Thanks Jenn for being such a great companion.  Next time I’ll bring my GPS.  

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