The Dragonflies of Muse

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Muse Camp: A three-day women’s retreat devoted to inspiring positive change in our personal lives, in our communities, and in our world. http://theworldmuse.org/muse-camp-by-world-muse/

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A large dragonfly thumped against the window, buzzing loudly in its desire to break through to the world on the other side. I tried to guide it toward the open door but it was stubborn, insistent on returning to the window where it would merely continue to buzz and bump the glass again and again.

I gave up on trying to guide the dragonfly and instead scooped it lovingly into my cupped hand where it grasped on tightly to my finger and let me lead it out the door to a life beyond.

I somehow knew that finding this dragonfly upon my arrival to Muse Camp was significant and throughout the weekend dragonflies attended our many activities. They would buzz loudly and aggressively, demanding to be noticed when we were silently meditating. While discussing our intentions, they’d dance overhead and flit amongst us as if spreading intentions of their own.

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Intention Tree

Intrigued by their presence I decided to read up a little on them and the symbolism behind their appearance. Did you know that dragonflies start to grow in water and then move into the air and fly? When they show up in your life you may be called to transform and evolve. The dragonfly inspires you to bring about the changes needed in your life in order to go on to reach your full potential. It’s an indication that it’s time for change. Just like the dragonfly changes colors as it matures, you may be called to live and experience yourself differently. No wonder they are all over Muse Camp!

We all showed up to camp hoping for something. I’m pretty sure not one of us was there with a wish to walk away exactly the same as when we arrived. Loaded with life experiences, some still trying to understand their journeys, the past and the future, each of us showed up with lessons to share – whether we realized that or not.

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I came to Muse Camp seeking inspiration, hoping for a nudge to get me to move onward. I’d been mentally standing in the same place for too long, desiring a new path but waiting to see it first rather than seeking it out.

I can see myself as the dragonfly in the window, guided toward an opening but always pulling back, returning repeatedly to bump against invisible restrictions in an attempt to find my way into the magnificent world I view ahead of me.

Muse Camp provided not just a nudge for me but an all out shove. A place of openness, acceptance, and encouragement. Stories were shared, souls were bared. The extraordinary women there, sensing my need, perhaps recognizing it in themselves, lovingly scooped me up in their welcoming arms. I grasped their fingers in mine and with laughter and tears they led me out from behind the restrictions I’d imposed and freed me into the world beyond.

It’s been 8 days since Muse Camp ended. In that time I’ve started writing again, hence this post. I found, joined, and attended a writing Meetup. I searched for and found some classes to take that will help me work toward an idea I’ve had for a few years now.  I even sat down and worked out the challenges involved and the steps to overcome them. Also, I’ve been wanting to get back to running consistently but I am one who doesn’t want to be pinned down to a schedule. I decided it was time to SHOW UP (read more about “showing up” in a future post) and I am now signed up to be a running coach. Training starts in 2 days. Thank you Muse Camp. And dragonflies. 

Information about dragonfly symbolism was found here: http://www.spiritanimal.info/dragonfly-spirit-animal/
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Abracadabra! Where did the Time Go?

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While growing up I would often hear people mention how time flies. Generally stated by those much older, it’s a concept not fully grasped until you become the person it happens to be flying by. I must be one of those much older people now, I’m beginning to see it happening to me.

Time is flying. It’s like I’m standing in the shower but it is time that’s washing over me instead of water.  It runs into my eyes, I can see but it’s blurry. It trickles into my ears, randomly muting out sounds. Each drop is a minute rushing away, never to be experienced again. I reach out, trying to hold on, but it has already slipped between my fingers and is long gone –  followed by another and another and another, so fast that they all move together in a steady flow.

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I’m pretty sure I had the same amount of minutes not that long ago. I was a wife, mother, employee and student all at the same time. So busy you’d think those minutes would have quickly evaporated while I was in the midst of them. But back then those 1440 minutes a day seemed to last and last. Little did I know that they were silently, gradually winding up and would eventually send me catapulting through my life.

My kids are grown now and no longer at home. I’m not a wife by law although I live and love as one. I no longer work a 40-hour a week job. I dabble with community college and miscellaneous classes on occasion. Although it would seem that I am less busy these days, my hours are occupied and moments spin wildly away.

I know about being present, being here, enjoying the now – and I do.  But nowadays the nows seem fleeting. A magician’s trick. Abracadabra. NOW you see me, NOW you don’t. I’ve tried to slow down, to languish, to enjoy, to coax the moments to linger with me. Yet when I look at the clock, it’s always later than I expected. When I think I have several hours before I need to be somewhere, I blink and suddenly it’s time to go. I live in the moment but the moments are flying away. I want to grab a net, nab them, and bring them back.

Last year I went backpacking for several days. Each day in the wilderness felt long, drawn out and fabulously slow. We’d walk for hours and hours, then set up camp, filter water, make dinner, etc., all before dark. Once the darkness set in, we’d retreat to the tent to read and write. Awakened by the sun, I’d crawl from the tent seeking her warmth. And, of course, coffee. Breakfast and packing up followed at a leisurely pace. And then we’d do it all again. Aside from the hard work and heavy packs, the days were slow and luxurious. Time didn’t quite stand still but it felt as if it slowed its pace. I wanted to bring these longer days home with me, I had just enough room in my pack. Try as I might I wasn’t able to entice them along or persuade them to reveal their secrets.

Back home, time once again sped up to a ridiculous pace. It is hard to keep up with. How do you reign it in? I want to throw it off its game and make it SLOW down. Would it help if I tossed out or disabled my clocks? What if I spent my life outside walking all day every day? If I didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything, would those endless days feel welcome to come join me here?

Honestly, I don’t have time to wait around and find out. There’s always something happening, something to do, pets to care for, friendships to nourish, family to call and visit and love on. I want to do all of this now, vigorously and passionately, before those moments too wash over me and slip away beyond my grasp, long gone.

 

Every Mile is a Gift

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I have a love/hate relationship with running. More so when it comes to racing. I get excited when I sign up for events but start to dread them as they approach. For my most recent race, which was this morning, the same held true. I didn’t feel that great yesterday, nor this morning. My stomach had decided to rebel, which in turn caused my brain to shout even louder than normal, “LET’S STAY HOME TODAY!” It was ever so tempting to bail out, to crawl back into bed and to tell myself I’ll make it to the next one. But as I was drinking my coffee and perusing Facebook, I was reminded of how grateful I should be to be able to run.

Last year at this time I was newly off crutches and finally out of an orthopedic boot that I’d had to wear first for 8 weeks and then again for 6 more weeks due to a stress fracture in my foot that just didn’t want to heal. It eventually did get better but my concern over re-injuring it led me to be super cautious. I was slow to get back into running and haven’t put in a lot of miles since then. I only recently started working on getting my mileage back up — hence today’s EVENT.

Back to this morning. I ran across the picture above on Facebook and it stopped me mid-scroll. Run grateful. Every mile is a gift. Indeed. And grateful I am. This little reminder was all I needed to get out the door to the race start. I ran the whole way being grateful, silently sending a million thanks out into the universe.

What gets you out the door?  

Do you ever give thanks as you run?  I find it especially helpful when I am having a tough time.

Here’s the link to the article by Amy Pike that accompanied the above picture: https://ilovetorun.org/run-grateful-b-1802.html

 

What I Would Really Like to Do is Chain You to My Body

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Black and white photo of lake with mountains in the background and sun shining bright. Poem by Hafiz - The Sun Never Says

Wow, just wow – there is some fantastic poetry by Hafiz!

Never having heard of him before, this book basically fell into my lap last week when I ended up taking a 4-hour bus ride. A cute, very young, outdoorsy-looking guy boarded the bus and sat down behind me. He pulled out a pillow and blanket, ready to nap for the long ride, but we ended up chatting a bit first. Before he settled in to sleep, he handed me this book and said it was easy reading for the bus ride. I had my own book I had wanted to read along with a handful of magazines, writing material, and my iPad, but I was appreciative of his thoughtfulness so I took the book to look it over.

Now this is the kind of book that would have enticed me to pick it up had I seen it sitting ANYWHERE and I spent the better part of the bus ride enjoying not only the poems but the feel of the book in general. Where had this book been? The pages were soft and well worn, many of them dog-eared, some stained by food, others filled with underlined sentences. Graffiti-like drawings in both pencil and pen were scattered throughout its entirety. And penned onto one of the front pages of the book was a note addressed to the young traveler from someone who wanted him chained to their body, saying they would sing for days. I felt like I had happened upon an incredibly personal note and was reading something I shouldn’t. How unusual a thing for someone to write, I thought, but how cool, intense, and very sweet. As I continued to make my way through the book, I found the original someone that wrote those very words.

“All these words are just a front. What I would really like to do is chain you to my body, then sing for days and days and days.” – Hafiz

IMG_4579I thoroughly enjoyed the time I got to spend with Hafiz on that day and ended up writing down a few of his poems to take with me. At some point I’m going to have to find a copy of this book for myself so I can linger even longer over each page and add my own drawings, underlines, and dog ears. Maybe I’ll inscribe a note in the front, borrowing one of my favorite pieces from Hafiz himself. Then perhaps I’ll loan it to a stranger so they too can linger – and wonder.

Durango to Moab Hut-to-Hut Mountain Bike Trip: Day 7

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Day 7 stats as listed on the hut-to-hut site:

35.6 miles, 2142′ ascent, 7473′ descent, max. elevation 10,552′

Today was a long one, a tough one for me. We added in an extra 4 miles or so by having to go down to pick up our bikes where we’d dumped them in the trees because of the muddy slog. Before we could even take them back up to the hut to begin today’s actual ride, we had to clean them. This entailed chipping and scraping off dried mud to even get the wheels to roll. And the dried mud was everywhere. Once the wheels could spin, we pushed them the 2 miles back up to the hut and finished cleaning them off there. Following breakfast and hut cleaning we hit the trail, eager to get in to Moab.

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JOJO HEADING OUT ON OUR FINAL DAY.

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THE REST OF THE GROUP GATHERING AND GETTING READY TO GO.

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FINALLY GETTING READY FOR SOME DOWNHILL.

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GETTING CLOSER TO MOAB!

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Somehow, instead of going straight down into Moab, we ended up riding up above and doing several more miles. I think there was some miscommunication about our route and, like the cattle we soon ran into, we followed along without thinking.

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CAUGHT IN A CATTLE DRIVE

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THIS ONE GOT SCARED AND TRIED TO RUN AROUND US BY GOING UP THE HILL RIGHT ABOVE US.

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This ‘other’ route took us to the Kokopelli trail and added several extra miles to an already long day.  We rode on with what little energy we had left and watched another thunderstorm rapidly building nearby.

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Chillin’ in the beer cooler of a  convenience store upon our arrival in Moab… and pretty damn happy about it.

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STORMING IN MOAB THE EVENING OF OUR RETURN

I don’t have much to say about this day and didn’t even write anything down that night after we got in. We were busy eating, drinking, and enjoying the storm from a safe location. I will say that it was a LONG day and it got pretty toasty warm. I tried to enjoy the scenery as we cruised down through the beautiful slick rock areas outside of Moab but I was spent.

 

 

 

 

Durango to Moab Hut-to-Hut Mountain Bike Trip: Day 6

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 Day 6 stats as listed on the hut-to-hut site:

22.5 miles, 5370′ ascent, 1010′ descent, max. elevation 9750′

Good news, I found the photos off my phone I thought I’d lost. Here are a couple of photos from our wonderful evening at Paradise Produce with Greg and Marty.

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ENJOYING SOME POST-DINNER CONVERSATION. (MARTY AT THE FAR END OF THE TABLE AND GREG, FAR RIGHT, WITH THE YELLOW CAP ON.)

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OSO THE CAT LOOKING OH SO COMFORTABLE.

Wow! What a crazy day. We all knew today would be the hardest day but we had no idea what bonus challenges were awaiting us. We were up at 5a with a plan to leave at 6a and an actual departure time of 6:30a. No hot breakfast on this day, we needed to beat the heat.

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PARADOX VALLEY HUT

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HEADING OUT ON DAY 6

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THE ROAD LEADING OUT OF PARADOX VALLEY

We had a crazy, approximately 6-mile climb out of Paradox Valley. We had to walk most of it, it was too step for us to ride and our legs were already tired. Luckily we had left early enough that we managed to get up most of the way before the sun found us.

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IT WAS A STEEP CLIMB. WE ALTERNATED BETWEEN RIDING AND PUSHING OUR BIKES BUT IT SEEMED WE WERE MAINLY PUSHING.

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THE VALLEY DROPPING AWAY BELOW US

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BUCKEYE RESERVOIR

We wound along with many ups and downs and across a beautiful plateau before dropping down to Buckeye Reservoir. Some water was filtered there and we stayed long enough to eat our lunch there at the group picnic area. Clouds were building over the mountains but we were hoping those storms would blow past.

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GROUP PICNIC AREA

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STORMY SKIES

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With about 6-7 miles to go, the lightning got too close for comfort. We dropped our bikes on the side of the road, grabbed our rain jackets, and huddled under a big bush off the side of the road. There were trees on the nearby hillside and other higher points around us, so we felt like we’d made a pretty safe choice.

The rain came, lightning cracked (again and again and again). The thunder roared around us angrily. Then the hail came, and got bigger, and didn’t want to stop. The ground was covered. The road turned into a creek, a creek that decided to rage right through where our bikes were laying with saddlebags and helmets attached. The ground underneath our feet and our butts became puddle ridden and soggy. I sat on my backpack, which soon was sitting in water – very muddy water. My shoes were full of water. Bugs were crawling onto them to escape the deluge, and I let them for the most part. When I would try to brush them off, it would let in could air and water under the warmth of my jacket which was pulled tightly around my knees as I huddled to keep warm. I had my head tucked down and the warmth of my breath flowing inside my jacket helped keep me from getting totally frozen. The air turned icy cold, chilling us all to the bone. And the hail kept coming.

The lightning was intense. I mostly kept my head down, praying for the storm to end, praying for our safety. Even with my head down, I could see the lightning reflecting off the water that was all around us. On one occasion when I did raise my head to look around, a big, beautiful deer stepped out into the road just 100 feet or so from where we huddled. She stood there for a moment looking almost like she was posing for a wintery postcard scene through the thick white shroud of the hail storm. She noticed us immediately, looking and probably wondering what the heck we were all doing hiding under a bush, the same thing I think we were all wondering at that time. I felt much more at peace after seeing her, as if it was a sign of some sort. Such a peaceful vision.

The storm continued to rage around us. We huddled there for an hour and twenty minutes, the storm refusing to budge from overhead. It seemed like forever yet also not quite that long. We were all soaked and very cold and needed to get moving to avoid becoming hypothermic. The lightning slightly moved away although the thunder was still ridiculously loud and scary. We decided we needed to make a run for it so we grabbed our bikes and wet gear and headed up the road.

The road was muddy and still flowing with water, so we ran while pushing our bikes along. Here and there we were able to ride. Another storm came over and the lightning ensued as did the rain. It continued that way until we were about a mile or so from the hut.

The road we had to turn off on to get to the hut was a double track dirt road, raised in the center with deep tire ruts on each side. Water poured down each rut like two little streams.

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It was mostly uphill and as we tried to push our bikes, mud clung to the tires making them impossible to push. In trying to push them, we slid all over the place with each step. We tried just pushing the bikes through the water as much as we could as it helped to get a little mud off the tires but it was too much work. Especially considering all the effort that already had gone into the climb today, the energy lost sitting in the cold rain and hail and being fearful of the storm. We decided to park our bikes in a stand of trees and come back for them later.

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THE NEVER ENDING ROAD OF MUD

We thought it was only a mile from where we dropped the bikes to the hut but it was more like 2+ miles and the road to the hut was relentless. The rain continued as did the lightning.

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FAKE SMILE IN THE RAIN, ALTHOUGH I WAS MUCH HAPPIER AT THIS POINT (HAVING DUMPED THE BIKES AND WITH THE LIGHTNING EASING UP).

We climbed and climbed carrying our backpacks and bike bags, sliding in the mud the whole way. Just as we made the last little climb to the hut the sun came out.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were so happy to find a stove in this hut. Much of our clothing got wet. Glenn started a fire right away, we changed out of our wet clothes and cracked open the bottle of Fireball along with some cider and beer.
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LOOKS LIKE A YARD SALE!

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SHOE DRYER

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CUPBOARDS AND SHELVES FULL OF CANNED FOODS AND EDIBLE GOODS.

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CHEFS IN THE KITCHEN.

We had nachos with chili sauce then later on JoJo made grilled cheese sandwiches and Glenn made mac ‘n cheese with green chiles. Good stuff!

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HUT LIFE. DRYING WET CLOTHING.

The hut was toasty hot and felt heavenly after our ordeal.

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SMOKE! AT FIRST WE THOUGHT IT WAS FROM A LIGHTNING STRIKE BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THE LANDOWNER WAS DOING SOME BURNING.

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VIEW FROM THE CLEARING BEHIND THE HUT – FILTERED

We wandered over to the clearing behind us where you could see the nearby mountains. This deer was in the clearing when we got there. After we sat there for a bit, she began to venture out farther into the clearing, nearer to us. She was big and healthy looking and so beautiful!

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IN THE CLEARING BEHIND THE HUT

In the morning we will have to get up early to go back for our bikes. This will add an extra 4 miles or so and an extra 700 or so feet of climbing to our already long day. Hoping we don’t get any more rain.

Durango to Moab Hut-To-Hut Mountain Bike Trip: Day 5

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Day 5 stats as listed on the hut-to-hut site:

32.3 miles, 3100′ ascent, 4190′ descent, max. elevation 6990′

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THE ROAD TO AND FROM THE WEDDING BELL HUT

There were no signs at all this morning that anything had happened overnight. Had I not shared the experience with 6 others, I might have thought the storm was just a bad dream.

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THE WEDDING BELL HUT, AS VIEWED FROM ABOVE, WHILE WE CONTINUED ON TO THE PARADOX VALLEY HUT

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It was another long ride today and another hot one and I didn’t feel nearly as physically strong as I did yesterday. It was a pretty ride though, winding along dirt roads, past old mines, overlooking a beautiful canyon. There were huge boulders and rock formations along the way.

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THERE WERE SOME AREAS ON TODAY’S ROUTE THAT LOOKED LIKE THIS. ALTHOUGH IT ALMOST LOOKED LIKE THIS DIRT WAS GROWING, I THINK IT WAS JUST FROM THE POUNDING RAIN AND RUNOFF. WEIRD. MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE WILL BE ABLE TO ENLIGHTEN ME.

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One of the scenic highlights was this wash that dropped into the canyon below.

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It would be very cool to see this during some hard rainfall, I’m sure there’d be an amazing waterfall.

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STANDING ON THE ROCKS AND FACING INTO THE CANYON

I certainly wouldn’t want to be standing at this spot if there was any flash flooding around.

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ANOTHER CAR

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PARADOX VALLEY

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TAKING IN THE VIEW AS WE REST FOR A MOMENT ABOVE PARADOX VALLEY.

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PARADOX VALLEY

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CATCH-EM-UP TRAIL

We ended up dropping down into Paradox Valley from the Catch-Em-Up Trail, a very steep, rugged, narrow and rocky trail – a cattle trail, I believe.

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A CHALLENGING CLIMB DOWN

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IT ALMOST LOOKS RIDABLE HERE, BUT IT’S NOT FOR YOUR AVERAGE RIDER FOR SURE!

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PASSING BIKES OFF

It was a little hairy at times trying to get down over the rocks with our loaded bikes and backpacks, especially while wearing bike shoes. It was all a hike-a-bike for us. At times we formed a line and passed bikes down from one person to the next.

As we got about half way down or so we started hearing thunder and could see the rain sweeping into the far end of the valley.

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THESE TWO WERE HEADED UP THE TRAIL.

Nearing the bottom we came across this guy walking with his stunning horse, they were on their way up the trail. He had rescued the horse and was training it, getting it accustomed to all the things it had been fearful of and working on making it a stronger climber.

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YABBA DABBA DOOOOOO!!!!!

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We finally made it down the trail with sore feet and bruised ankles, stopping at the Bedrock Store (closed and for sale) for a short rest and a photo op. A lady that pulled up to take some photos told us this store had been used in the filming of Thelma and Louise. Also parts of the movie were filmed in the La Sals, where we are headed next. I will definitely need to go watch that movie again.

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Last night at the Wedding Bell hut, Glenn had a great idea. Since we had cell service there, he called and made reservations at this placed we’d heard about through San Juan Huts – Paradox Produce Company. The owners, Greg and Marty, will make you a dinner for a very reasonable price and even shuttle you to and from the hut if you want.

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We hadn’t scheduled to be shuttled but after riding 6 more miles from Bedrock to the hut, none of us really wanted to ride the 2 1/2 miles from the hut to their place to eat. We wanted a shuttle at that point but no one had any cell service to call and ask them for a ride. Since there was icy cold beer at the hut, we sat in the shade and drank beer until it was time to ride over to dinner.

Once there, we were actually able to hose ourselves off quite thoroughly and clean up with soap!  Their only rule for hosing off was no nudity, and we were happy to comply with any rules just to get cleaned up.

After “bathing” we sat outside under an easy up and had the BEST dinner. These people were awesome, so friendly and nice, and the food was delicious. They made us big, juicy hamburgers with peppers and mushrooms and cheese, a huge salad full of all kinds of veggies, and 2 potato salads. (The menu can be changed for those with restricted diets, allergies, or special requests.) There was ice cold soda and water and they even brought us ice cream cones! Such a treat after 4 days of riding and eating canned foods.

They sat and chatted with us while we ate. Marty wanted to know about everyone. It turns out she loves Bend and Black Butte Porter – that’s my kinda girl!

They had a sweet, black feral cat named Oso that reminded us of a neighborhood cat (Jack Black) that spent a lot of time at our house last year. He lounged in a chair at the table with us until dinner was served.

We slowly and happily returned to the hut with full bellies to prepare for an early start on the next day’s brutal ride. Only 22 miles but we were to climb from Paradox Valley up to the La Sals. Ugh! The weather here was great, we didn’t get rained on and the temperatures were much lower than usual. We were almost back to the hut when we spotted a coyote. I’m sure there were tons out there and lots of other wildlife around that we weren’t seeing.

I had a few other pictures taken with my cell phone while we were at dinner but, sadly, I think they inadvertently got deleted.  😦

 

Durango to Moab Hut-to-Hut Mountain Bike Trip: Day 4

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Day 4 stats as listed on the hut-to-hut site:

33.5 miles, 2500′ ascent, 3320′ descent, max. elevation 7294′

We woke to a beautiful morning. Clouds far off in the distance moved in quickly, but thankfully they were just little ones and not the storm gathering clouds we’d been dealing with so far.

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THIS PLACE WAS JUST BELOW THE HUT IN DRY CREEK BASIN.

We dropped into a basin as we left the hut. There were lots of puddles and mud bogs. Serious mud bogs. Jo Jo went through one and ended up coating his bike with thick mud.

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LOTS OF MUDDY SPOTS ON THE ROAD OUT.

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JO JO TRIED RIDING THROUGH THE FIRST ONE. NOT A GOOD IDEA.

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SUPER STICKY MUD!

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SEMI-DRY MUD

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A BRIEF RIDE ON A PAVED ROAD, THE ONLY TIME WE SAW ANY OTHER PEOPLE ON THIS DAY.

We rode a LONG way on on dirt roads with no one around anywhere until we had to briefly ride on a highway. We saw 2 or 3 cars along that route and that was it. There seemed to be no one other than us out there.

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SEE THOSE MOUNTAINS OVER THERE? THOSE ARE THE LA SALS. WE WERE TO EVENTUALLY PASS THROUGH THERE BEFORE DROPPING INTO MOAB.

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WHERE THE ANTELOPE PLAY!

We saw an antelope today, all by himself. So beautiful and so nice to see some wildlife in this seemingly desolate area.

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A HOT, DRY RIDE.

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THIS WAS MY STRONGEST DAY OF RIDING. PROBABLY BECAUSE IT WAS FLAT MOST OF THE WAY.

We stopped to eat lunch finally with only 8 miles to go on this 33.5-mile ride. It wasn’t the nicest place to stop – by a natural gas pipeline – but there weren’t many other options. At least there a little shade there under a tree. Apparently some cattle had once enjoyed the shade there too as our dining area was decorated with dried cow pies.

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NOPE. THEY’RE NOT ANY CLOSER. I JUST ZOOMED IN A BIT.

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THE DOLORES RIVER, WAY DOWN THERE!

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THE WEDDING BELL HUT

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AT THE WEDDING BELL HUT

When we got to the hut today we went off to check out an old car that is nearby. How it got there and how they got this hut here is perplexing. The roads are not really roads, they are pretty rugged and very narrow in places with crazy drop offs.

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THERE WAS A LOT OF MINING IN THIS AREA.

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SPECTACULAR VIEW!

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The views from the Wedding Bell Hut are outstanding! There are layers of plateaus below us, dropping down to a rugged canyon that the Dolores River carved out. The La Sal mountains loom off in the distance. They rise up tall on the skyline and look quite imposing, likely because that’s where we are heading.

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HIDING OUT FROM THE HEAT IN THE ONLY SHADE AROUND.

We hid in the shade alongside the shelter, reclining on stadium seats from the hut and rocks that had been stacked to form little chairs and a love seat.

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THE ROAD IN, AND OUT.

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A MINE COVERED UP WITH A GRATE.

There are mines nearby. Lots of rusty pieces, parts and cans around.

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WATCHING A STORM BUILD

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GORGEOUS SUNSET

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ANOTHER WITH THE FILTER

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ENJOYING THE SUNSET WITH THE TEMPERATURE STARTING TO DROP

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THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

As the sun was setting, the wind came up strong. It had changed direction and was blowing from behind us, coating us and pelting us with dirt just as the temperature had finally cooled enough to enjoy sitting out front at the picnic table.

We ended up moving around to the back of the hut on the little deck where we were sheltered somewhat from the wind and blowing dust. From there we were able to enjoy a colorful sunset and a storm forming seemingly a long ways away. Gradually this storm moved closer and by 10:15 p.m. it was very close by. The wind howled and gusted so hard that the little hut shuddered and rattled like crazy. Each gust of wind felt like a wave crashing into the hut. Lightning flashed all around. The roar of the wind, for the most part, covered up the sound of the thunder but you could hear it echo and roar in between gusts.

It was scary for awhile there as we sat in this metal hut perched on this little plateau – propane tanks right outside. I was wishing I’d stuck in my earplugs and gone to sleep before the storm arrived but I had been engrossed in a very good book. The lucky guys who fell asleep before the storm hit were obliviously snoring away in their bunks.

I found it so odd that throughout the storm the crickets chirped constantly as if it was a peaceful summer evening. The rain started falling and smelled so good!  I lay awake in unease from the severity of the storm, thinking about the clay roads we’d be riding the next morning and hoping the rainfall would be short-lived.

 

Durango to Moab Hut-to-Hut Mountain Bike Trip: Day 3

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Day 3 stats as listed on the hut-to-hut site:

35.2 miles, 2061′ ascent, 5457′ descent, max. elevation 11,066′

Loud thunder boomed overnight, lightning lit up the inside of the hut repeatedly, and the rain came. Thank goodness for earplugs or I would never have slept.

When morning arrived, Cresen created a delicious breakfast of pancakes a la bananas foster, and bacon. I was thankful for her willingness to cook so creatively for all of us.

Before we could even begin the day’s journey, our gear got doused by another quick rain shower and we ended up starting our ride a little later than usual.

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JUST WAVING, NOT HITCHHIKING.

It was another beautiful ride and although it was only 2061′ of ascent, it still felt like we climbed quite a bit.

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I BELIEVE THESE ARE CORN LILIES.

We rode through some showers on and off throughout the day but all were very light, not requiring us to don our rain gear. We saw a deer in a meadow and Jo Jo saw a bear somewhere on the way as we neared the hut, otherwise just lots of chipmunks, small birds, and a hawk or two.

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LOTS OF CORN LILIES!

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WAITING FOR SOME ALL TERRAIN VEHICLES TO PASS.

We missed a turn here, even as we stopped and chatted with some ATV riders who actually questioned where we were going and our route to get there. DUH! We ended up having to backtrack a mile and a half or so.

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QUICK BREAK AFTER A 2-3 MILE MISTAKE.

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FUN BUMPY, ROCKY, MUDDY, WET RIDE.

We rode a wonderful section of muddy, rocky, downhill double track. It was a little bouncy and rough, slippery in many spots, but super fun.

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COWS!

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LOVE THE ASPENS AND FLOWERS.

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MIRAMONTE RESERVOIR

We eventually dropped down to a reservoir that Jo Jo had been gushing about for days. Apparently, the last time they rode this route they stopped here to bathe, eat, and wash their clothes. While they were there he ended up riding his bike off the dock into the water. All he could talk about was doing it again.

This time around it wasn’t very feasible to ride down the dock so he chose to barrel down the boat ramp instead. When he hit the water, he sailed over the handlebars into the water and came up laughing like crazy. We took photos and videos as he did this and he spent the following few days watching the videos again and again, laughing like a maniac each time.

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BATH AND LAUNDRY TIME.

We washed up in the reservoir and did some laundry. As we sat there drying off and eating, we couldn’t help but notice the dark clouds building across from where we sat, in the direction we needed to go. Only 7-8 more miles to the hut from there and it looked like we were going to get stormed on.

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The bad part about that was the fact that we had to cross a plateau, not so fun if there was lightning. Bad part #2 was that the last little section from the road to the hut was all clay. Sticky, heavy, nasty when wet clay.

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We hurried to get to the hut before the rain came but we didn’t exactly make it. It came down lightly and then the thunder started up. We had a strong headwind and were trying to get over a pass and onto the downhill before the rain got worse.  But after all the climbing we’d done the past couple of days, I struggled and ended up walking my bike up the last hill.

We all flew down the hill the last 4 (I think) miles with raindrops splattering on us and the storm coming right at us. We got onto the clay road, which was already damp, sticky, and a little clingy but not yet BAD.

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At the hut, we unloaded our bikes just in time as a nice little downpour took place and then quickly passed. Mother Nature was having a grand ole time messing with us on this trip.

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DRY CREEK BASIN HUT

This hut was great! There was no stove but we were at a much lower elevation and the temperature felt great. It was a little chilly with the sun starting to set but comfy dressed in pants and a light jacket. There were flies and gnats but no mosquitoes! There were also tons of cacti, along with juniper, pinyon, sagebrush, and such.

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The hut overlooks a beautiful valley. Across the valley I could see a dirt road, a tiny strand winding steeply up the hillside. I pondered whether that might be where the next day’s ride would take us. (Thankfully, no, that wasn’t our route.)

Glenn and I made a stir fry dinner tonight. Mostly Glenn but I chopped some things up for him. It consisted of canned chicken and rice in a sesame vinegar with garlic, onion, carrots, cabbage,asparagus, corn and green beans — and it was really good!

This was the first night we were able to sit outside. The first night was rainy and on the 2nd night there way too many mosquitoes.

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HUT LIFE PANORAMA

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BIKE PARKING

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HIKING AROUND THE HUT

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LOVE THIS FILTER

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found it very peaceful here as I sat on a crazy, twisty tree root, the wind blowing gently through my hair while the sun set in a soft glow.

Durango to Moab Mountain Bike Trip: Day 2

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Day 2 stats as listed on the hut-to-hut site:

29 miles, 3722′ ascent, 4450′ descent, max. elevation 11,420′

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Morning fog at Bolam Hut

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Setting off on day 2 of riding.

The weather gods were on our side today, although it didn’t seem like it at first. We awoke to clouds and a very cold hut and there was fresh snow down low on the mountains around us. We were rained on just after we left the hut and it stayed chilly for a while.

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Yikes!

This first of 3 crashed/destroyed old vehicles we saw on the trip.

This first of 3 crashed/destroyed old vehicles we saw on the trip.

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Hut #2

Black Mesa hut.

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Typical hut scene.

Trail behind hut leading to sweet view!

Trail behind hut leading to sweet view!

Taking it all in.

Taking it all in.

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Happy to be there.

Glenn made us some nachos when we arrived. JoJo (not his real name) made Mac ‘n Cheese with spam for dinner (don’t judge- you use what you have available up there – and it was good!) and peas, and Cresen made a peach and pear cobbler on top of the wood stove.

Unfortunately, there were tons of mosquitoes out, so we spent most of our time there INSIDE the hut. Another good reason to choose those you do this with wisely!

Day 3 photos and notes to be published soon!