Adventure Magnet

Last weekend our family headed up to the mountains for a little fall camping at one of our favorite spots. We loaded the camper with ingredients for smores and chili, tossed in sweatshirts and jeans and a couple vintage I Love Lucy movies for good measure. This was our first camping trip without our son as he is now a college freshman. Our oldest daughter was unable to join us also so this was really going to feel different. Our baby, now a wise tween of 10 years was feeling a little displaced now that she had become ‘an only child with a big brother and sister”. Not sure how to help her with the new family transition I invited my two young cousins who had recently relocated to our state. A substitute big brother and sister if you will.

The first day we decided to try out a new trail. Armed with his ATV/4Wheeling in the Mountains book my husband had found a nearby trail we had never explored before called Red Cone Mountain. According to the trail guide most of the trail was rated easy to intermediate. Confident we could handle ourselves at that level we headed out. The trail guide did warn of a couple of spots rated very difficult but it looked like we could avoid the bad spots and stay within our comfort zone.

We loaded the Ranger with snacks, a lunch and lots of drinks, camera and even a video camera, extra jackets and the appropriate riding gear like helmets and pads. Once at the staging lot we geared up and headed out. According to the trail guide we were starting on the easy path, and the next one was intermediate and difficult. OK, let’s go!

The next trail was far more advanced than anything we’d been on before but it was exciting and had not crossed over to terrifying so we bounced on. Rocks and more rocks covered the path causing us to ramble over them reminding me of the old tv footage of the moon ranger on the moon! Before very long we were above the tree line staring at what was obviously Red Cone Mountain. The ground was virtual rainbow of reds, oranges, browns obviously from all the minerals in the soil. The mountain stream quietly running downhill next to us was completely orange casting an eerie glow.

Soon the trail became one switch back after another only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time which was fine until you encountered someone around the next bend driving right at you! The drop off to my right was impressive, not a sheer cliff but a threatening cone of several hundred feet. The mountain to my left made me think of hugging it as I tried to maneuver the Ranger safely around and up. Matt was duly impressed by now having never been on a trip quite like this before.

Soon we were at a summit of sorts, the wind seriously trying to blow us off the top of her mountain. The kids posed for goofy pictures and we celebrated with a family picture thanks to a couple of friendly 4-wheelers.

Red Cone Mountain was to our right and it was awe-inspiring. It seemed to rise steeply up the face of the mountain. This was clearly marked DO Not Enter One Way. You did not have to mention this to me twice, I was scared just looking at it but when I saw two tiny specks on the rim and realized it was two 4-wheel drive Jeeps coming down I had to stop and watch. Wow. No way I would ever do that!

Red Cone

 

We held a quick family meeting and decided we could handle a little more but would stick to the easy/intermediate trail that was all we could handle and head down the back side of the mountain toward Breckenridge.

As soon as I started the Ranger I noticed a funny sound. Looking over at Matt I could see he heard it too. Ever the cautious one I stopped and had my husband listen. He confidently determined everything was fine and we started out again. Within a few hundred feet disaster struck. I hit a good-sized rock with my left front tire and suddenly heard a load boom. Peeking around the steering wheel I looked at the tire-flat as a pancake. Oops. Soon we were all gazing sadly at the now completely flat front tire. Now what?

My husband, the Eagle Scout quickly went to work and pulled out a can of Fix a Flat and went to work. The plan was to fill the tire with the gooey stuff, let it set up and it would hold until we got off the mountain. Nice plan but it didn’t work out that way. The gooey stuff started spewing from the holes in the tire. Yes, I said holes, multiple ones. Inflating only a tiny bit the tire was still flat as a pancake. I started searching the trail for the AAA rescue vehicle and the sky for signs of the ever-present afternoon thunderstorms the Rockies are famous for. How did we get into this pickle. We aren’t crazy people, we don’t do dangerous stuff. Yet here we were, 8 miles from the truck on a wild ATV 4 Wheeling trail on the back side of summit almost 12,000 feet in elevation. We were almost above the tree line, late in the afternoon with only a cooler of drinks and a lone dirt bike. Crap. My blood pressure was trying to erupt like Mount Saint Helen’s but my husband remained calm and reasonable.

Now what? I said in a high-pitched voice. Matt was suddenly busy with Maggie off to the side of the trail. I am sure he was thinking why did I come up here with these nut cases?

In a very matter of fact voice my husband announces to us all to get loaded up. He will drive the dirt bike, I will drive the Ranger and we will go back the way we came driving with the flat tire. He said it calmly but I know enough to know you are not supposed to drive a vehicle with a flat tire, it does something bad to the rim. “really?” I asked. This plan did not seem all that good. Looking at him through squinty eyes I waited for something a little better. “let’s get moving” was all I got. “Oh ya, just drive slowly and by the way don’t turn. Just drive straight. You’ll be fine.” he stated.

“What! don’t turn. Are you nuts! Did you see the trail we just came up on. Did you notice that not more than 10 feet of the 8 miles was straight. Did you notice that it was one switch back after another. How am I supposed to drive this thing with a flat, up and over the mountain, not hit any other rocks and get another flat, not roll off the mountain and NOT TURN!” I am sure I gave him quite the look. You know, the we’ve been married for 23 years, you are freaking out of your mind look!

What have I gotten myself into now?

 

I had no real options here. A storm could come up at any time. It was already cold and would soon be getting much colder, maybe even close to freezing, we couldn’t all ride the dirt bike and 8 miles was a long walk……crazy thoughts raced through my mind. Maybe I could drive the dirt bike and my husband could drive the Ranger. No I could not handle that big bike on a flat field much less on this trail. Matt knew less than I did about these trails and my 10-year-old wasn’t even licensed yet. No one to get us out of this mess but me. Crud.

Slowly, carefully, we wound our way back up to the summit. My knuckles were white when I looked down. Maggie was kind of sacred so I turned up the radio and sang along like this was no big deal. All I could see was the flat tire lurching us along like a bad cartoon. No one else was on the mountain any more. Great, where did everyone go when you needed them!

Midway down I caught Matt’s eyes and we grinned. Good thing I have nerves of steel right? Ya he agreed. Good thing! Finally we made it. The end of the trail. I had managed to limp us along down the mountain, the tire looked pretty bad, the rim was bent but we were safe and sound.

Pretty proud of myself I stepped off the Ranger and grinned at my husband. Well that was fun. Talk about exciting!

Realizing that I had just done something pretty amazing. Something I surely wouldn’t have thought I could do. It hit me, sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Believe me, if I had been able to come up with ANY other option I would have gone for it in a heartbeat but the fact was that I just had to do it. And I did. Wow. I think I am turning into an adrenaline junky. Who would have thought!

Serious Tire Issue

 

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list”.

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