Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday on ATVs

ATVs. All Terrain Vehicles.

Sunday morning of the family reunion we loaded up and headed out.

We had 16 people on 13 ATV's (3 people were on doubles). The youngest rider was Savannah, age 10. The oldest rider was Uncle Ray, age 77. And we had a blast.

I was concerned at first, as were several of us, that 13 ATVs on the trail together at one time would be way too many but that was not the case. We spread out enough that it was never crowded.

But, back to the beginning. We drove to Salida to the rental shop and did all the requisite paperwork, and picked out helmets. Then it was up the mountain in our cars to Poncha Pass. The rental place trailered the ATVs up, gave us operating instructions and off we went. Omar, who you remember has climbed all 54 of Colorado's 14ers and knows these mountains well, was our guide.

The first half of the trail was a combination of eating the dirt/gravel thrown up by the ATVs in front of you, blasting through mud pits (those were the most fun), and struggling up steep rocky climbs. We had great views of streams, beaver ponds and dams, and fields of yellow wildflowers. We climbed up through the aspens and eventually came to an opening with great vistas of distant (and not so distant) mountains.

We drove down through Starvation Creek where I never did see a creek but we did have more great mountain views. Then it was on up to Marshall Pass at 10,800'.

Along the way we had several “gather-up” stops and a couple of water and snack stops. By the time we got to Marshall Pass many of us were happy to see “facilities”. After all the water and bouncing around – I think that the restrooms might have been best view of all.

The second half of the trip was – of course – downhill most of the way. Now we were on an old railroad bed and it was all dirt and gravel and you could really get your speed up. However, more speed means more dust and dirt in the air. We tried to space ourselves to keep down the amount of dirt inhaled but it was the eyes that really took a beating. Even with glasses on I felt, and still feel, like my eyes had been sand blasted.

That was a small price to pay however for the amount of fun that we had. If anyone did not have a great time, I did not hear about it. Uncle Ray had never ridden a motorcycle or an ATV or any type of off-road motorized vehicle and I honestly think that he had the best time of anyone there.

There are many great ways to spend a day with family but this ranks up there with the very best.

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