Day 2: Last Dollar hut to Spring Creek hut

Starting elevation 10,960′
Ending elevation 9,200′
Total ascent for the day 1,600′
Cumulative ascent 4,360′
Total descent for the day 3,360′
Cumulative descent 3,910′
Distance for the day 28.18 miles*
Cumulative distance 42.22 miles

* includes an extra mile or so because I made one wrong turn and missed another turn

After a wretched night of little sleep, I dragged myself out of bed Saturday morning at the first hint of dawn, just after 6:30. By that time, I’d already decided that I was riding toward Moab for at least one more day. I wasn’t certain yet that I’d make it the entire week, but I didn’t feel as bad as I’d feared. Not sprightly, but not debilitated, either.

This was my first departure from an SJHS hut, so I dug out my Biker’s Bible and assiduously followed the instructions for disposing of compostables, washing dishes without the benefit of running water, turning off propane tanks, burning trash, sweeping out the hut, and so on. At 10,960 feet, it was mighty nippy:

Frost at sunrise

so I was dashing through chores just to stay warm. I still didn’t get going until about 9:30, though, in some measure due to repeated stops to take more pictures:

Sunrise to the south, 6:56

The view to the south, just before 7 am, from about 50 feet in front of the hut. I have the same shot from inside the hut, but it’s not the same through dirty windows.

Sunrise to the west

The view to the west, also just before 7 am. I had no view of the sunrise itself because Whipple Mountain is east-southeast of the hut.

Sunrise to the south, 7:31

Another view to the south, around 7:30.

Last Dollar hut

The huts all look pretty much like this one: green boxes surrounded by trees.

Road before Last Dollar Pass

My last opportunity to whine about how difficult the previous day had been: this is the road to Last Dollar Pass immediately below and to the west of the hut.

The SJHS queue sheet for day 2 returned me to Last Dollar Pass by a different route than the previous evening’s grueling scramble. The way out was longer, more gradual, and much easier than the route up the ridge, and not just because it was downhill instead of uphill. Why they have riders come in the hard way at the end of day 1 is still a mystery to me.

Back at Last Dollar Pass, the day began with a long descent through an aspen forest over the week’s most common road surface: rough gravel. I was grateful for the descent, but I wasn’t in the mood for practicing first aid, so I rode the brakes quite a bit, and my average speed wasn’t much more than it had been on uphills the day before. The occasional break in the trees revealed exceptional views:

View to the west near Last Dollar Pass

The SJHS queue sheet said that the mountains in the distance are the La Sals, where I’d be on day 6.

View to the north near Last Dollar Pass

Shortly after this, I left the forest altogether and spent much of the rest of the day riding through ranchland.

A mere 1,600 feet of ascent on the route to Spring Creek hut was a relief after the previous day’s 2,800 feet of climbing in half the distance. Large swaths of the route were flat (see below), gradual ascents, or gradual descents. I walked one stretch of fresh gravel maybe a third of the way into the day, but the hill was no more than a half mile long, and it was a pleasant day for a stroll.

County road 28

County road 28, looking north.

Road Z60 at 59Z

Road Z60 where it turns north and becomes 59Z. That’s more log fence on the left and in the background.

Dave Wood Road

Dave Wood Road, looking north.

View of Dave Wood Road

The road cutting across this picture is a stretch of Dave Wood Road that I’d just traversed. Looking south from a spot about three miles from the Spring Creek hut.

Even with a late start, I made it to Spring Creek hut before 5 and, after a dinner of sunny side up eggs and a sandwich, I spent the evening writing up the first two days’ experiences. I’d just completed the easiest day, but even though day 3 promised more miles and more climbing than day 2, I decided to continue riding for at least one more day.

On to Day 3: Spring Creek hut to Columbine hut

Back to Day 1: Telluride to Last Dollar hut

Back to Mountain biking (and walking) from Telluride to Moab