Reckoning inevitable

It’s 5:30 AM and you’re in the outhouse, it’s 10 below zero and all you’re wearing is a down coat and some slippers.  Something serious is going down here…. and it’s called winter.   The dirt is gone and unexpectedly one has to dig deep to recon what has commenced to happen, after all, it was 65 degrees just last week.  The bikes sit frozen in their tracks atop the pickup.  The potential for attitudinal free-fall is on red alert!!

winter in del norte 2013 002

Looking out the window it becomes apparent that we are the ones in the driver’s seat here and to avoid a crash an attitudinal correction is in short order.  Yeah, OK, we can do that… done it plenty of times before.   So, here it goes…..

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Let’s get real here…. we live in a stunningly beautiful place amongst good friends, in a cozy cabin that is simply, just saying,  what warm fuzzies are all about.

looking NOrtheast to the Sangre de Cristo snow covered range of 14,000 foot peaks.
Looking Northeast to the Sangre de Cristo snow-covered range of 14,000 foot peaks.

On a ranch that offers a seemingly endless play ground and wildlife refuge.

Looking North and West to the LaGarita's
Looking North and West to the La Garita’s

And a river that is dynamically changing and will soon provide skiing and ice skating potential.

NOrth fork of the Rio Grande.
South fork of the Rio Grande.

With an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods…. kind of entrance bridge.

Bridge over the North fork of the Rio Grande.  The main entance to the Off Island Ranch.
Bridge over the South fork of the Rio Grande and the main entrance to the Off Island Ranch.  We’re grateful for the large braces that prevent any potential slippage into said river 🙂

Getting right to the core of it….. our day revolves around getting out there to play.  It’s what energizes us, it’s what drives us, it’s what makes us grateful for this magical place in which we live, it’s where our minds are free to expand and dream and create.  So…. our answer to a potential emotional meltdown and attitudinal winter train wreck  is to GET OUT THERE AND PLAY!!  And here’s what that looks like……

From the top of San Franciso Creek about 1000 feet above the town of Del Norte getting close to the San Juan Mountain range.
On San Francisco Hi Road, heading South of Del Norte to the San Juan Mountain range. The mountains in the background are the Sangre de Cristos.
A relatively small bevy of skis are parked outside the cabin.
A relatively small bevy of skis are parked outside the cabin.
Gary kickedin a sweet 2 1/2 hour track throughout the ranch.
Gary kicked in a sweet 2 1/2 hour track throughout the ranch.

Patti’s Pick:  Ski-Run-Ski.  My favorite thing to do is to ski out along this track to where a ranch truck has packed down the snow, change into my running shoes and run the distance  and back to my skis and ski home….. sweet, eh??  This is followed, at times, by a bike ride into town to take care of, well, whatever.

Running on packed down tracks.
Running on packed down tracks.
beyond this is where I turn around to head back to the skis.
Beyond this is a bridge where I turn around to head back to the skis.
Thick hoar rost is everywhere and at times it feels like your skiing or hiking on a polar bears back :-)
Thick hoar frost is everywhere and at times it feels like you’re skiing or hiking on  the back of a polar bear 🙂

Of course, there really is a life outside  the inner sanction of the ranch, one complete with friends and one where the public lands offers unlimited potential.   We have ventured out a little such as to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument last weekend.  It kind of rocked, and kinda looked like this….

Shawna Marie Off, up to her old tricks ::=)
Front to back: Sue Kommerick, Kevin Off and Shawna Off
Shawna Marie Off, up to her old tricks!!  Yeah!!!
Shawna Marie Off, up to her old tricks!! Yeah!!!
Kevin Off, skiing into the sun
Kevin Off, skiing into the sun
There were huge variations of snow and sand.
There were huge variations of snow and sand, almost all skiable.

Don’t worry folks, we haven’t gone off the Pollyanna high dive here ….. we’re generally good with winter in the San Luis Valley until January after all the holiday parties have been attended, all the over eating has been accomplished and all the “newness”of winter and it’s beauty has worn a hole.   But , this year is distinctly different in large part because we’re not working and our lives are more than ever of our own design…. so who’s to blame????, You got it, absolutely no one.  Have no fear, come January these fledgling snowbirds will be bugging outta here and heading south where our souls can thrive in warm sun, clear skis, flowers, vegetation and last, but not least, dirt.  And, OK, granted, we’re only in week two of this winter season, but come on, we CAN rise to the occasion because, at the end of the day, at this moment  “IT’S  ALL GOOD”, it’s all very good.

Looking South from the cabin into the San Juan Mountains/
Looking South from the cabin at sunset.

Gary’s perspective-

Winter came early and harsh to the San Luis Valley this year. We’ve had an inversion since the last storm, around Thanksgiving, with lows well below zero and highs in the teens most days. Denver, one day, had a high in the sixties and we were around 20 degrees, for the high.  Normally we’d find this a bit depressing but since we aren’t planning to be here the “whole” winter we’re fine with it.

winter bike 002

It turns out that XC skiing aggrevates my shoulder so I’m hiking , snow shoeing and riding. Everything  is from the front door of our cabin. Because of the cold and the lack of wind the 2-tracks are in as good of condition as I’ve seen. Hunting season is still on for women and children, this means the local jeep roads are getting a bit of traffic so the snow is packed well and with the cold there’s virtually no ice or mud.

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As soon as the winds start these ruts will fill with wind blown snow and will be virtually unrideable, even a fatbike would flounder.

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All this is within an hour’s ride from home.

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The bikes are back in ‘trail mode’. Mine has Arch EX rims set up tubeless,  2.2 Saguaro on the rear and a 2.4 Ardent EXO up front, Magura Marta SL brakes, 180/160 rotors. The Fox F29 Fit 100mm fork is installed with the motivation to give my shoulder some kindness. Dinglespeed gearing- 32/20 and 35/17. Patti’s has her  Rythm wheels and tubeless Saguaro (rear) and Ignitor (front). Otherwise, no changes. Before we left on our big trip she gave me firm instructions to not mess with her bike. She likes it just the way it is, so heavier wheels were the only changes I made.

I ran across this quote and thought I’d pass it along-

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

.. Terry Pratchett, “A Hat Full of Sky”

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