POSTED BY SANDHYA: As the snow comes down in slush and quickly turns to puddles, Joey and I can't help but dream about the alpine riding awaiting us this summer. High mountain passes with chests heaving and and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers filling the meadows - what mountain biking bliss! This summer we hope to be able to take my friend Kelly Ryan up on her offer to ride the San Juan Hut System's Durango to Moab route.
Kelly and I went to Colorado College together, where she was the senior, bad-ass mountain woman and I was one of the freshman newbies in her Outdoor Leadership training program. It came up in conversation a few times amongst us newbies in awed wonder, "Did you know that Kelly's dad STARTED the San Juan Hut System?" "Yeah, he, like, built all of the huts up in the mountains by himself for his friends to be able to backcountry ski to in the 80's." "That's so rad! Kelly must be so tough growing up like that! I heard Kelly that once came across a recently road-killed deer and rather than let it go to waste, butchered it up on the tailgate of her truck - at night! during the winter! alone!" So the stories grew with each retelling. (If you joined us for the Valkyrie race you might have met both Joe and Kelly Ryan.)
Now, Kelly is living in Ridgeway running the San Juan Hut System with her dad and we've reconnected through a love of mountain biking, small mountain towns and homegrown backyard veggies. The San Juan Hut route from Telluride to Moab was opened to mountain bikes awhile back and the route from Durango to Moab has recently been opened to two-wheeled travelers. What sets the huts apart is that they are fully stocked with food, water, cooking stoves, sleep gear, bunks and composting toilets!
Compared to the typical roughing-it bikepacking trips that Joey and I have gone on together this seems like a plush way to spend a week riding through some of the best mountain bike terrain in the country, if not the world! The huts provide an excellent option between completely self-supported trips (which we fully promote here at Velorution) and expensive, guided, vehicle-supported group trips. It sounds pretty nice to ride with day-trip gear for a week, but still be self-guided and independent.
By riding the route at some point this year Joey and I hope to bring back some tips from the route - What bikepacking bags are most appropriate for the ride? Was the route well-spaced from day to day? And most importantly: How was the food? Plus lots of photos, of course.
If any of you have ridden the Durango to Moab route with the San Juan Huts before we'd love to hear about it! If you haven't, you might want to look into it! Not to be sexist, but this could a great entryway trip to get your girlfriend or wife into semi-bikepacking. I know for myself I'm only willing to do so much hike-a-bike WITH a full load of bikepacking gear before I get a little grumpy (Joey will attest to this). Apparently I'm still working on my bad-ass mountain woman status.
Anyways, can't wait until the summer, how 'bout you?