Sometimes the road ends before the destination; this is where you leave your car or truck behind and the adventure begins. Logging and mining roads wash out, get reclaimed, bridges get pulled out, or the road gets forgotten and overgrown. Sometimes the best backcountry hiking and camping spots are kept hidden due to closed or roads not navigable by car or truck and are accessible by ATV only.
Heading off the beaten path towards your adventure on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) puts a whole new spin on planning and preparation; remember you are relying on a machine put together with nuts and bolts to get you out there and back. Bringing your quad/bike/side by side in for regular maintenance will help prevent unpleasant breakdowns in the backcountry. Golden is home to two ATV dealerships capable of selling and servicing every make and model of every recreational vehicle you can think of.
When the weekend hits and get packed, gassed up, or strapped down. My scatterbrained lifestyle has been working for me so far without any major hitches by following this general timeline; I would suggest streamlining you’re a little.
5:01 PM: Floor it home from work
5:12 PM: Unpack sleeping bag and air mattress from the receptacle it was in since last weekend and shake sand off. Repack into cleaner-ish receptacle.
5:37 PM: Locate one dirt bike boot.
5:52 PM: Throw dirt bike shorts, jersey and gloves into wash.
6:17 PM: Head to grocery store for supplies.
8:25 PM: Return home, then return to grocery store to get forgotten items from 1st trip.
8:57 PM: Arrive back home, switch laundry into dryer and locate other dirt bike boot.
9:36 PM: Lay everything required for a dirt bike accessed summer ski trip out on living room floor.
10:10 PM: Consolidate all required gear into bag and throw in truck.
10:34 PM: Load up dirt bike, and gas up
10:58 PM: Return home to retrieve dirt bike gear from dryer. Phone Jesse to tell him I was too scatterbrained to get myself together to leave that night and we should just head out in the morning only to find out that I’m more together than he is.
8:07 AM: Crush a cup of coffee and head out the door to pick up Jesse. 1 day late but I don’t really expect much more from myself anymore.
Finally on the road; driving down the highway with the morning sun glaring through the windshield and the wind whistling past the weathered and worn window weather stripping on my old Ford. The dust on the dash serves as a memory from the last trip as we turn off the highway onto a logging road; as the radio frequency sign flies by I reach over to the glove box and rummage around through the duct tape, random rusty tools and crumpled insurance paperwork. Bingo. Found the radio. After a bouncy ride for 30 km or so in the truck we stop at an old bridge and unload the bikes. The game of gear Tetris begins as we struggle to strap, jam, and tie gear from two totally opposite seasons to our bags and bikes. We flash up our bikes and head up the trial, travel is fast through valley bottom but we were soon slowed as we climbed up through the moraines; old creek crossings require all of our attention as we fumble our bikes across the wet boulders. Climbing up higher on the old mining road it ends in a rockslide 30 meters from the ridge we planned to camp on; after turning the gas off and laying the bikes down we hiked up the rest of the way. Choosing our camp spot was a no brainer as soon as we crested the ridge; a boulder with a flat spot directly behind it with a un-obstructed alpine view of the valley. After zipping up in our sleeping bags and waiting out a couple squalls complete with high winds, rain, and snow the sun cracked and we strapped on skis and made our way up the glacier. Working through the burning leg muscles we hit the top of the glacier and were rewarded with 360 degree panorama views of the Bugaboos, Catamount Glacier, Mount Assiniboine, and Farnham glacier. The conditions were perfect for the leg roasting decent as we smashed through soft, slushy cups kicking up spray that cooled us off from the scorching heat that was magnified off the glacier. A short hike and we were back at our camp crushing dinner and taking in an alpine sunset; the weather was perfect for an alpine bivy as we passed out under the stars.
Despite my scatterbrain unpreparedness, we managed to pull off a great weekend of summer skiing, camping, dirt biking, and exploring a new glacier. There are so many places like this near Golden so load up, pack a few things and find your own adventure.