Bill and Jaci are incredibly generous people, who over the years have taken many young people under their wings, taught them so many skills, including work ethics, appreciation of the environment, living in a community, and much much more. I am honored to be a part of their extended family, and to be able to call them friends.
I have been back a couple of times since our first visit, but this is Ju's first return visit. It feels like we have never left. A fantastic atmosphere. A great place to work, and such lovely people. Great to catch up with Matt and Anika, who were in their early teens when we first came here, also to meet some of this year's guides.
Did I mention that they do amazing raft trips, all over the SW of USA. Check out.............www.dvorakexpeditions.com
So the trip through the goat head thorns cost us 4 tubes. They had so many holes in them that they weren't worth fixing. Oh well. Lesson learnt. We spent a couple of minutes identifying the plant so hopefully it won't happen again.
Then we went out to Buena Vista and rode the Midland Trail. What a fun ride. Going in an anti clockwise direction the trail follows an old mining railway, ducking off into the scrub where ever there used to be a bridge. It passes through some really lovely railway cuttings, and climbs steadily for approx 8 km. Nice riding. Then it follows Shields Gulch for 5km, a climb on a sandy 4 wheel drive track. Hard work, but worth it. Then the downhill. Maybe 10km of really fun 4 wheel drive track, passing through spectacular rock outcrops, with stunning views of the Collegiate Range and the Arkansas valley, all the way back to the van. Nice.
Our plans were to leave for Monarch Pass, but the hospitality, unfinished trails, and perhaps an afternoon rafting Browns Canyon kept us here. How to fit it all in???? As it turned out, the weather was a little cool, so we headed back into Salida and the Arkansas Hills trails.
Climbed up the sealed road to the Trailhead of Backbone. What a lovely route. Perhaps our first high desert ride (there were cactus beside the track). Just a little technical, and a couple of places where the track was a little washed out, but a great journey through some lovely country. Hanmer definitely needs a track like this, that offers a journey, with views, adventure, and ridable for reasonably competent cyclists. I rode it twice, and loved it. Then we connected with a couple of easier trails, and a couple of school groups, that returned us to the car park. Great riding. Thanks Salida. And we saw fresh mountain lion tracks.
This weekend there are a series of mtb races happening here. Salida is a fun place to be if you are in to outdoor stuff, and great bars and food. Our Mexican meal the other night was great. But we need to move on. Graham Allen and the crew are in the air heading towards us and our second month of single track USA is about to begin.