The last quarter mile of dirt road up to the Guacamole trailhead is on the steeper side. More importantly, it's tucked up against a north-facing rock wall, and doesn't get any sun this time of year. While the rest of the road was pretty well dry and smooth, this last bit was a sheet of lumpy ice. On a hill. Next to a cliff.
I started this trip with a newfound confidence in my car's AWD and ABS capabilities. This confidence was the direct result of an abundance of snowpacked and icy roads (and parking lots...) at home, combined with my own keen interest in finding the limits of said AWD and ABS systems. For me, the week before leaving looked a lot like this:
(Not me, not my car, not my vid, etc...)
Our only attempt at driving up the road was aborted at the crux move, as all 4 tires spun and forward progress turned suddenly to sideways progress. I backed the car down (Skippy was all-too-happy to get out and walk, under the pretense of giving direction), parked, then we unloaded the bikes and rode easily up.
Up top we found clean, dry rock, staggering views, an occasional ice-filled pothole, and an otherwise empty trail.
Traction on the rock was outstanding, prompting us to attempt and execute several, um, interesting sequences that probably should have waited until MUCH later in the day--when we'd finally found our feet again.
We'd been told that the trail was short--a mere 8 miles comprised the entire loop. But we knew better: the 'entire loop' merely scratched the surface of an ocean of seemingly virgin and interconnected rock.
Sometimes our exploring was necessary--it's easy to lose the thread of the 'real' trail and once you've lost it you need to circle out until you stumble back onto it. But more often we'd see an interesting feature and head over (if possible) to check it out.
It was emphatically a slow-speed, rock-crawling, on-the-ground kind of day. That's the kind of riding I prefer, and although I felt rusty and a bit disconnected from the bike, I was at least within my comfort zone.
Skippy, on the other hand, was not in a happy place. It's not that he's bad at rock crawling--he's actually really good at it. It's just that he prefers speed, and air, and, if possible, more air. He never really found his groove on this day, stacking hard once on a committing gap move and spending the rest of the day delicately limping around.
As with the previous evening, there was no real rush to get anywhere, nor to cover ground just for the sake of it. We rode, we scoped, we gawked at the gawkables. And, at least one of us wondered how the trail came to be named as it is.
Sunset threatened a little earlier than we had hoped, prompting me to ask (rhetorically, of course) when I had last burned 6 hours on a mere "8 miles" of trail?
Rhetorical question notwithstanding, I answered myself aloud if only to underscore the obvious: Too damn long ago!
As the sun slid lower we grudgingly yet cheerfully turned tail and headed from whence we'd come.
Back at the motel we feasted on a disgustingly blissful combo of freeze-dried lasagna, tortilla chips, Oreos, dark chocolate gelato, jalapeno cheese curds, winter-harvest huckleberries, and Nuun.
Two more days to go...