Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 4…Onward to Hut #2…

Technically, although I continue to refer to this as Day 4, it was really only Day 2 of the official hut trip. All of our route guides, maps and itineraries, kept telling me this but my mind doesn’t work that way so you’re going to hear it the way I process it. This is Day 4 of our adventure, despite what the route packet says and despite the fact that we were only starting on our second day of the hut trip. Actually, all you need to know is it was Tuesday. Which to be honest, I wasn’t even sure of, since when I’m on vacation I don’t really care.

So there...Now that I’ve gotten you totally confused, let me begin….

The storms and clouds that accompanied us most of the previous day had blown through and we woke to partly cloudy skies with an abundance of sunshine.  Breakfast was pancakes and bacon and copious amounts of coffee.
Note - In case you hadn’t noticed from my previous posts, coffee is a critical part of my being able to function and unsure of what we would find in the huts, we had purchased a pound of Wake and Bake’s finest blend for this trip.

Chris, in addition to being our navigator, turned out to be a really good cook.  He could look at the pantry full of miscellaneous items and turn it into a delicious meal.  (Jerry and I on the other hand, proved to have an amazing talent for eating and lounging during the meal period – hey, don’t laugh. Being able to relax while other people do the work takes real talent.)

After eating, drinking and paying our last respects to the composting outhouse, we got on the trail.   Where the end of yesterday’s adventures resulted in a brutal hike-a-bike up to the hut, today started with a nice steep, flowing downhill run back to the route.  Plus with yesterday’s rains, the trails were perfect with no dust and amazing traction.

We continued to lose elevation for most of the morning before leveling out for some long grinding runs on farm roads in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  The views were incredible and went on for miles.  In a couple of spots we came across mud, nothing too bad, but enough that it clung to the tires and slowed us down.  Luckily, most of the middle portion of the day was flat and the weather wasn’t too warm.

We passed several developments as we rode along offering ranch homesites from 40 – 400 acres.  It seems amazing to me that people live out here, so far from anything….I guess you really have to plan the runs to the grocery store to make sure you don’t forget anything.

Where the roads up in the mountains would wander and meander, following the flow of the land as it wound its way down, now the road made sharp, perfect 90 degree turns as we cut our way across the valley floor. Evidently it’s easier for the engineers to draw straight lines with right angles than to put curves into the roads.  Gone too were the Aspens and the Pines, replaced instead by miles and miles of green, rolling hills dotted with scrub oak and sage.

After stopping for lunch we continued on, eventually beginning to climb back up towards the trees.  Nothing brutal or dramatic, just a gentle upward trend back up into the hills and the shade of the trees.

It was pretty warm by now and the relief provided by the shade was immediate and we gratefully accepted its cooling properties.  At some point we missed the supposed water source along the trail, but that was fine. We all had camelbaks and a water bottle on our bikes so dehydration was never a concern but it would have been nice to wash the salt of the helmet straps and the dust off our faces.

After turning off yet another farm road onto a double track, the incline increased slightly. This was to be the last push up to Hut #2 and we were definitely looking forward to getting off the bikes. The day had been longer than the first and although it was only 27 miles and almost all downhill, I was ready to be off the bike.

This hut, like the last one, was clean, nice and very well stocked. After opening a beer, we broke out the maps and began planning the next day’s route. After 2 days of farm roads and double track we decided to try to find an alternate, read more exciting, route to the 3rd hut.

According to the maps there was a single track hiking, biking trail that ran pretty much parallel to the day’s route so we mapped it out and decided it was a plan….

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